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The Number 23

Movie review by
Charles Cassady Jr., Common Sense Media
The Number 23 Movie Poster Image
Absurd, dark, and a miscast Jim Carrey. Yuck.
  • R
  • 2007
  • 85 minutes

Parents say

age 16+
Based on 9 reviews

Kids say

age 14+
Based on 13 reviews

A lot or a little?

The parents' guide to what's in this movie.

Positive Messages

Characters suddenly go from normal and sympathetic to shifty, paranoid, and potentially psychotic. There is, however an ultimate message about the redeeming power of family love and support and "doing the right thing."


Threatened knifings. Multiple suicides and suicide attempts via slit wrists, standing in front of a bus, hanging, jumping out the window, and a gunshot to the head (the last is usually off screen). One throat-slitting (presented in a surreal, fantasy way). The hero gets a bloody dog bite and later tries to kill the dog by running it over.


A few sensuality scenes, which are much obscured by abstract, music video-style gimmicky visuals, editing, and foliage. Some females are dressed in revealing bustiers. A takeoff on lurid detective-story clichés includes a girl who indulges in sex with kinky, violent, and murderous overtones. The (married) hero turns down an offer of sex from a co-worker, then worries about his wife's fidelity.


A few uses of "s--t" and "f--k," as well as "bitch" (in both canine and human contexts).

Drinking, Drugs & Smoking

The hero drinks to steady his nerves.

What parents need to know

Parents need to know that this isn't a Jim Carrey comedy. It's a thriller in which suicides are epidemic (three characters take their own lives -- or try to -- in often-bloody detail). The surreal, MTV-style filmmaking unfortunately makes at least one of the suicide victims look like a gauzy Victoria's Secret model who's ready for a turn on the fashion runway -- not a good message to send. There's also a subplot about a girl who likes to have kinky, abusive sex. Other violence includes murder (usually offscreen) and the threat of murder; there's also some language and drinking.

User Reviews

  • Parents say
  • Kids say
Adult Written byjohnmcclane3 April 9, 2008
Adult Written byghjghjkghk April 9, 2008


okay, well i had just recently saw this movie and i enjoyed it very much. It has a twist you will NVER SEE COMING! After i left the movie i could not stop count... Continue reading
Teen, 14 years old Written bydirecterdude123 April 9, 2008

not that bad

This movie has a lot of violant killings and alot of people killing themselfs violantly. The language was not bad at all and I think this will be ok for kids 14...
Kid, 12 years old January 6, 2012

dark thriller not for kids

very dark thriller and quite good

What's the story?

Carrey plays Walter Sparrow, a happy-go-lucky animal-control warden (yes, it's impossible to get Ace Ventura: Pet Detective out of your head while watching) whose wife, Agatha (Virginia Madsen), gives him a birthday present, a secondhand novel called The Number 23. Walter fixates on the prose, which viewers see acted out -- with Carrey in the role of a tough-guy cop whose lover is into kinky sex at crime scenes and who discovers some sort of conspiracy centered on the numeral 23. Walter is shocked at parallels between the novel and his life, including street addresses, license plates, letters in names, calendar dates, room numbers, etc., all of which add up to 23. What makes it creepier is that the 22-chapter unfinished manuscript predicts that its 23-haunted hero will kill the one he loves.

Is it any good?

Somehow a second-rate story from an old horror comic escaped, shanghaied some decent actors, clothed itself in fancy computer-aided cinematography, and turned itself into a movie. Too bad it wasn't one of the cool stories that made the comics' covers. It's more like one of the inferior ones in the back, near the bodybuilding and mail-order Venus flytrap ads, dashed off in a hurry to make the publishing deadline.

It's called THE NUMBER 23, and it marks a rare non-comedic (well, not intentionally comedic, anyway) role for actor Jim Carrey. Carrey has done credible drama before (in The Majestic and a few others), but he's really marooned here in pretty hopeless material that might have functioned in print.

Talk to your kids about ...

  • Families can talk about why Jim Carrey, known for slapstick comedy, would undertake a movie like this. What makes this movie a thriller? What's the difference between thrillers and horror movies? Families can also discuss the supportive message about the mentally ill that's hidden underneath the movie's gaudy, feverish visuals.

Movie details

For kids who love scares

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