The Number 23

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The Number 23
Theatrical release poster
Directed by Joel Schumacher
Produced by Beau Flynn,
Tripp Vinson
Written by Fernley Phillips
Starring Jim Carrey,
Virginia Madsen,
Logan Lerman,
Danny Huston
Music by Harry Gregson-Williams
Cinematography Matthew Libatique
Edited by Mark Stevens
Firm Films
Distributed by New Line Cinema
Release date
  • February 23, 2007 (2007-02-23)
Running time
98 minutes[1]
Country United States
Language English
Budget $30 million[2]
Box office $77.6 million[2]

The Number 23 is a 2007 American psychological thriller film written by Fernley Phillips and directed by Joel Schumacher. Starring Jim Carrey, the film was released in the United States on February 23, 2007. This is the second film to pair Schumacher and Carrey, the first being Batman Forever.

The Number 23 was considered to be unsuccessful both critically and commercially. Carrey was nominated for a Golden Raspberry Award for Worst Actor for his performance in the film, but he lost to Eddie Murphy for Norbit.


The plot involves an obsession with the 23 enigma, which is the idea that all incidents and events are directly connected to the number 23, or to some number connected to 23.

Walter Sparrow (Jim Carrey) is an Animal Control Officer and married to Agatha (Virginia Madsen); they have a son, Robin (Logan Lerman). At a bookstore, Agatha begins looking at a book titled The Number 23 written by Topsy Kretts. She later gives Walter the book as a birthday present.

Walter starts reading the book, noticing odd similarities between himself and the main character, a detective who refers to himself as "Fingerling". Walter begins to have dreams of murdering Agatha. Walter becomes obsessed with the number 23 - just as Fingerling does in the book - and tries to warn Agatha that the number is going to "come after her". She tells him he is crazy.

Walter comes to realize that he is Topsy Kretts, having written the book as a way to rid himself of the guilt he felt over murdering a woman named Laura Tollins (Rhona Mitra). He was never suspected of the crime, and a man named Kyle Flinch (Mark Pellegrino) was convicted and imprisoned instead. He then remembers that he had dated Tollins 13 years earlier, but that she had left him for Flinch. Walter stabbed her to death in a jealous rage, and left the scene of the crime moments before Flinch arrived and touched the knife, leaving his fingerprints and implicating himself in the murder. Wracked with guilt, Walter decided to kill himself and began writing a suicide note, but found that he could not stop writing; the note became the book. He then jumped out of a window, but survived and was left with amnesia.

Fearing he will hurt his family, he leaves home and moves to a hotel - the same one in which he had attempted suicide. Agatha finds Walter at the hotel and tries to assure him that he is no longer the person he was when he wrote the book. He insists that he is a killer, and tells Agatha to leave before he kills her, too. He leaves the hotel and runs into the street, where he nearly allows himself to be run over by a bus but steps out of the way at the last minute when he realizes his son is watching. He turns himself in to the police and is awaiting sentencing, having been told that the judge will likely go easy on him. A funeral procession takes place in front of Tollins' grave, where it is implied her body has finally been laid to rest, as Flinch observes, a free man.



Although being nominated for two Teens Choice Awards, the film has received negative reviews.[4] The film received a rating of 8% on Rotten Tomatoes with one critic stating "Jim Carrey has been sharp in a number of non-comedic roles, but this lurid, overheated, and self-serious potboiler is not one of them. The Number 23 is clumsy, unengaging, and mostly confusing."[5] Of the few critics who liked the film, Richard Roeper and critic George Pennachio of KABC-TV in Los Angeles stand out, as they gave the film a "2 thumbs up" rating on the television show Ebert & Roeper (Pennachio was standing in for Roger Ebert due to Ebert's illness).[6]

However, Michael Phillips, filling in for Ebert on the Worst of 2007 show (aired January 12, 2008) put The Number 23 at No. 7 in his list of the worst (Roeper did not include it in his list). Peter Travers of Rolling Stone declared the film the year's worst star vehicle on his list of the Worst Movies of 2007,[7] while Colm Andrew of the Manx Independent said the film "delivers a rambling, confusing narrative with only a few stylistic elements thrown in".[8]

For his performance, Carrey was nominated for the Golden Raspberry Award for Worst Actor at the 2008 Golden Raspberry Awards, but lost the "award" to Eddie Murphy for Norbit.

Box office[edit]

On its opening weekend, The Number 23 took in $14,602,867, coming in behind Ghost Rider's second weekend.[9] After five weeks of release, the film grossed $35,193,167 at the domestic box office and $42,373,648 overseas, for a worldwide total of $77,566,815.[2]

Home media[edit]

The film was released on Region 1 DVD on July 24, 2007; the release contains both the theatrical version and an extended version, which runs an additional four minutes. Special features include deleted scenes, such as a much more abstract alternate opening and an alternate ending that gives a few more details about Walter's prison sentence and hints at the possibility that the son could be subject to the same obsessions as his father. The disc also includes interviews with mathematicians, psychologists, and numerologists. The DVD shows the film over a set of 23 chapters. As of August 24, 2007, The Number 23 has generated $27.7 million from DVD rental grosses.[citation needed]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ "THE NUMBER 23 (15)". Entertainment Film Distributors. British Board of Film Classification. February 8, 2007. Retrieved August 1, 2014. 
  2. ^ a b c The Number 23 at Box Office Mojo
  3. ^ " Walter Soo Hoo". Retrieved Dec 17, 2016. 
  4. ^ Schumacher, Joel; Madsen, Virginia; Lerman, Logan; Huston, Danny (2007-02-23), The Number 23, retrieved 2016-12-21 
  5. ^ The Number 23,, accessed March 25, 2007.
  6. ^ Ebert & Roeper, air date February 24, 2007.
  7. ^ Travers, Peter, (December 19, 2007) "Peter Travers' Best and Worst Movies of 2007" Rolling Stone. Retrieved 2007-12-20
  8. ^ Review by Colm Andrew, IOM Today
  9. ^ "Weekend Box Office Results for February 23-25, 2007". Box Office Mojo. Internet Movie Database. February 26, 2007. Retrieved August 1, 2014. 

External links[edit]