The Number 23

  • Review Date: July 15, 2007
  • Rated: R
  • Genre: Thriller
  • Release Year: 2007
  • Running Time: 85 minutes

Common Sense Media says

Absurd, dark, and a miscast Jim Carrey. Yuck.
  • Review Date: July 15, 2007
  • Rated: R
  • Genre: Thriller
  • Release Year: 2007
  • Running Time: 85 minutes





What parents need to know

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).

Not applicable
Drinking, drugs, & smoking

The hero drinks to steady his nerves.

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.

Parents say

Kids say

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?


Attention, comic-book collectors. Somehow a story from an old horror comic escaped, shanghaied some decent actors, clothed itself in fancy computer-aided cinematography, and turned itself into a movie. Unfortunately, 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.

Families can talk 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

Theatrical release date:February 22, 2007
DVD release date:July 17, 2007
Cast:Jim Carrey, Logan Lerman, Virginia Madsen
Director:Joel Schumacher
Studio:New Line
Run time:85 minutes
MPAA rating:R
MPAA explanation:violence, disturbing images, sexuality and language.

This review of The Number 23 was written by

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  • ON: Content is age-appropriate for kids this age.
  • PAUSE: Know your child; some content may not be right for some kids.
  • OFF: Not age-appropriate for kids this age.
  • NOT FOR KIDS: Not appropriate for kids of any age.

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What parents and kids say

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Kid, 12 years old January 6, 2012

dark thriller not for kids

very dark thriller and quite good
What other families should know
Too much violence
Too much sex
Teen, 13 years old Written bySanjay407 November 10, 2011


Rated R: Strong Graphic Violence, Sex, Language, and Drinking
What other families should know
Too much violence
Too much sex
Too much swearing
Too much drinking/drugs/smoking
Teen, 16 years old Written bybradley4846 June 23, 2010

Unrated Review

Very Tense once you get into it, and carrey was great. Sex: A lot of sex scenes in unrated, one breast Violence - not much violence just blood language - a few fwords and minor words
What other families should know
Too much violence
Too much sex
Too much swearing


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