OK, so I was one of 23 people who actually liked The Number 23 when it came out on the big screen. Sue me for $23. And then double it, because although I will admit it's a bit flaccid upon second view, I still dug this semi-lurid Joel Schumacher / Jim Carrey fright flick (who, incidentally, worked together for the first time in 1994… 1+9+9+4 = 23) enough to recommend the DVD for anyone who likes conspiracy-driven psychological puzzlers.
Carrey, also a producer (who named his production co. JC23 before signing on for this movie), plays Det. Fingerling a highly-sexed, risk-taking, boldly tattooed P.I. existing in a dark, deadly noir world where the women are fast and death comes even faster. His alter-ego — or is it the other way around? — is a quiet, gentle family man named Walter Sparrow (also Carrey), who finds himself straddling two worlds, each adding up to the number 23. As Fingerling and Walter try to solve the mystery of the noxious number, its inscrutability only deepens.
Read Horror.com's original review of The Number 23 here
Although there is only one disk, it's stuffed to its silver gills with additional release material. First of all, it's "Infinifilm" — not sure what that is, but it sounds very impressive. (It basically means you can either watch the movie straight, or you can choose to veer off onto side roads of trivia and featurettes whenever you get the option to click away; once you've seen the extra bit, the movie resumes from where you left off.) The disk contains the theatrical release version of the movie, and a slightly sexier unrated version (the unrated version, for whatever reason, does not include captions for the hearing-impaired).
Needless to say, there are 23 scene selections. There are also 16 deleted scenes, plus an alternate ending. As far as additional release material goes, first up there's a basic making-of offering. Yet, it's more engaging than most, as it goes into the back story of the number 23 (first-time screenwriter Fernley Phillips based his story on the writings of Robert Anton Wilson… hm. My last name is Wilson, and I was born on the 23rd of the month…). It also reveals how and where the numbers are hidden (and overtly displayed) in the movie, has interviews with the stars and filmmakers, and behind the scenes footage.
Another featurette is entitled Creating the World of Fingerling, and it begins with an overlong storyboard montage, then a look at some green screen footage, before finally delving into the goodies, which mostly concentrate on the cinematography (by Matthew Libatique, who also did Requiem for a Dream and The Fountain – not to mention two films previously for Schumacher). The filmmakers talk about the color palette, lighting design, and the joining of disparate worlds (i.e., the white-on-white of the Suicide Blonde's apartment to the cozy reds and russets of the Sparrow home). It does an eye-opening job of illustrating just how much most audiences take for granted when we watch a movie.
There are two other featurettes which are more about the central riddle, and numerology (The Number 23 Enigma, and How to Find Your Life Path Number), plus an enthusiastic solo commentary by Schumacher. He has a gift of gab, which is welcome — it not only feels like he talking to "you", but for those in search of real info, he imparts it: everything from who did the cool title sequence (Imaginary Forces) to the name of the canine actor (Butch). He also has a great memory for names and good enunciation (much appreciated, when one listens to as many DVD commentaries as I do).
The Number 23 DVD is available everywhere on July 24, 2007.
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Reviewed by Staci Layne Wilson