The Bootleg Family has been signed up to Netflix for the last several months. And, even though a monthly fee is deducted from my checking account each month, it still feels like I'm getting free movies every time a new one shows up in our mailbox.
Y'see, in my mind, I imagine Netflix is akin to walking into a video store, taking a DVD off the shelf and walking right out. But, when the store's doughy, unshaven assistant manager tries to stop me, I silently flash my Netflix membership in her scruffy mug without breaking stride.
(Hey, kids…get yourselves a marketing degree and you, too, could be thinking up imaginary commercials for your blogs after you've graduated!)
Late last week, Jim Carrey's psychological thriller, "The Number 23", showed up at home. Quick synopsis: an average suburban guy receives a book from his wife that throws him into a downward spiral of obsession, paranoia and – possibly – murder. All because of a certain number that escapes me at the moment.
Yes, yes…I know that all you movie snobs have already snorted out a quick puff of air and you're just now wrinkling your lips ever so slightly to say the "what" in "what did you expect, Aaron". But, I have a viable defense. Shut up. That's my defense.
Carrey is "Walter Sparrow", while Virginia Madsen plays his sympathetic wife, "Agatha". Madsen's performance is solid enough, as she cycles through the predictable array of emotions (dismissive, concerned, fearful, scared-sh*tless) while watching her husband lose his marbles.
My problem with her – and my biggest beef with the movie – is that she's way too quick to be won over by all the coincidental and anecdotal "evidence" that shows how the number 23 controls her husband's life. Hell, their son "Robin" is on board with his dad from the very beginning. Please name ONE teenager that would immediately buy into his dad's "A number is after me! A number is after me!" hysteria.
Wait…"Robin Sparrow"? His parents named him Robin Sparrow and he still supports his old man?!
Anyways, Carrey has shown himself to be quite the accomplished actor, but it's rare when his performance and the material he's given sync up into something sublime. Here, neither is anything to write home about.
Carrey's aww-shucks, awkward charm is a good ten years past its expiration date. Consequently, the leap from "family man" to "Captain Insano" isn't as dramatic as the movie would have us believe. He wears a perpetual look of blank shock on his face that is more "Is the cable out?" than "Am I out of my mind?"
There are some moments when the story tries to rise above the dreck – especially the inventive flashbacks where Carrey and Madsen become the characters from the haunted book – but, even those get old after the first few minutes.
Throw in two nonsensical subplots about a dog that watches over the dead and a wrongfully accused murderer and you have the makings of one of the worst movies of the year. Top it off with a ridiculous "twist" of an ending and "The Number 23" actually doubles back from "awful" and becomes "unintentional comedy".
Then, again…what did I expect?