Jim Carrey. Virginia Madsen. And a Book

Though critics seem to have been universally underwhelmed by the new Jim Carrey vehicle, The Number 23, the premise wins it a mention here at January. See: it’s a book movie. That is, it’s not based on a work of published fiction. Rather a book plays a sort of weird evil partner to Walter Sparrow, the luckless lout Carrey portrays in the film.

Here’s what happens: A woman named Agatha (Virginia Madsen) gives her husband, Walter (Jim Carrey) a book. As he reads the strange, self-published novel, the man becomes increasingly convinced that the book is about him and that his life is somehow entwined with that of the novel’s protagonist, a saxophone-playing detective named Fingerling.

“A loud, disorderly mess of a movie,” complains MartiniBoys. “The Number 23 showcases itself as a suspenseful tale with a clever edge but it amounts to nothing more than a high-concept gimmick film about numerology and coincidence.”

“Psycho thriller descends into silliness,” concludes The Sunday Mirror.

Despite this criticism, the premise of the film sounds so engaging and director Joel Schumacher (Veronica Guerin, Tigerland, The Lost Boys) is so competent, I’m going to reserve judgment until I’ve seen the film myself. It’s possible that Carrey’s fans are having trouble seeing the star of such screamers as The Cable Guy and Dumb and Dumber reduced to a pile of quivering manflesh the likes of which we have not seen since Jack Nicholson took on a haunted hotel in The Shining.

Or maybe, as Tennessee’s WBIR suggests, The Number 23 is “hoping to blind us with enigmas and coincidences to disguise the fact that the film’s story is absurd right from the jump.”

Either way, it looks to be an interesting ride.

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