'œIt's not the stupidest premise of all time,' said David Edelstein in New York. Dogcatcher Walter Sparrow (Jim Carrey) receives a secondhand book from his wife (Virginia Madsen). The book, titled The Number 23, turns out to be a conspiracy-laced novel about a detective named Fingerling (also played by Carrey, in film noir mode). The book's theories about the mystical number 23 (Julius Caesar was stabbed 23 times, there are 23 chromosomes in the human genome, and so on) drive Sparrow into a numerological frenzy. This concept has been well executed before, in such films as Pi and A Beautiful Mind, and when you get it right, this symbology stuff can seem downright spooky. But The Number 23 does everything wrong. For one, its fantasy elements are silly and over-styled, said William Arnold in the Seattle Post-Intelligencer. Gauzy, crooked camera shots have become a clichÃ© of bad thrillers, as in The Butterfly Effect and Domino. 'œBut what makes this movie such a slap in the face is that its plot makes no sense.' The film is all loose ends, with a twist ending that doesn't gel. Note to Jim Carrey: We don't like it when you play it straight, said Tom Long in The Detroit News. America is starving for good comedians, not thespians. 'œPretty much anybody can play a dogcatcher. It takes a genius to star in Me, Myself & Irene.'
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