Jim Carrey is an animal control officer whose wife (Virginia Madsen) gives him an odd crime novel for his birthday. The book is narrated by a police detective who becomes violently obsessed with the recurrence of the number 23 in all aspects of life. The book has plenty of strange similarities with Carrey’s life, and he becomes consumed with finding the author and knowing what it’s all about, not to mention descending into the 23 obsession himself.As with so many Joel Schumacher films, there is less here than meets the eye. The film is pretty, slick, and superficially interesting, but ultimately rather empty. The whole 23 thing has been kicking around in popular culture for a while, and there is something neat that could be done with it, but most of the notions of mystery or conspiracy evaporate as the film reaches its climax, and everything disintegrates into a muddle of endless expository voice-over and platitudinous moralizing. The unrated version of the film runs three minutes longer than the theatrical version (also present).
The technical aspects are where a Schumacher film tends to excel, and that is certainly the case here with the sound. The score, as is to be expected, is terrific, as are the environmental elements. There is no distortion on the dialogue. The audio is enveloping and very rich. Nicely done.
When the picture is good, it’s very good, with sharp images, no grain, and striking colours. Unfortunately, when the film is dark (which is often), it is also murky. The experience then ranges from simply a rather muddy-looking scene to eye-straining obscurity, where it is almost impossible to make out what is going on.
Schumacher’s commentary track is quite informative, particularly when it comes to the specific details of a scene. There are 15 deleted scenes and an alternate ending (which is no better or worse than the one actually used). There’s the usual generalist making-of featurette, and shorther, more specific one (on the creation of the world of Detective Fingerling). All of these aspects can be accessed also using the Infinifilm function while watching the movie (does anybody actually do this?), along with a trivia fact track. Also present is “The Number 23 Enigma,” a featurette that has some interesting musings from mathematicians, and a completely nutty numerology feature whose passionate host, instructing us on the astrology-style implications of numbers, torpedoes any credibility the disc might have had. As ever, there are also trailers.
A glossy but hollow effort, less interesting or intelligent than it thinks it is.