A lot or a little?
The parents' guide to what's in this movie.
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.
- 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?
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.
- In theaters: February 22, 2007
- On DVD or streaming: July 17, 2007
- Cast: Jim Carrey, Logan Lerman, Virginia Madsen
- Director: Joel Schumacher
- Studio: New Line
- Genre: Thriller
- Run time: 85 minutes
- MPAA rating: R
- MPAA explanation: violence, disturbing images, sexuality and language.
- Last updated: September 20, 2019
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Common Sense Media's unbiased ratings are created by expert reviewers and aren't influenced by the product's creators or by any of our funders, affiliates, or partners.
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