It’s difficult to talk about a Joel Schumacher movie as one of the Worst Movies of All Time because as a rule it’s impossible for a single Joel Schumacher film to be worse than any other Joel Schumacher film. He has earned his Lifetime Achievement Award through a long career of unrelentingly terrible films. But if the make-believe Academy of Worst Things was dragging its non-existent feet in honoring Schumacher’s work, The Number 23 would be the film where everyone felt like enough was enough and they had to give the guy the recognition he deserved. At long last, he would get the Golden Punch in the Face that he’d worked so hard for. It is such a bad movie, you guys.

The Number 23 is a “thriller” (although I could count the thrills on Buster Bluth’s left hand) in which an unassuming dog-catcher (Jim Carrey) begins reading a used book from the book store called The Number 23. The more he gets into the book, the more parallels he finds the story has to his own life, and the more obsessed he becomes with the number 23, which he begins to see everywhere. He tries to track down the author (Topsy Kretts, because apparently Farty McDiarrhea was a little too spooky) to break the curse the number has put on him, and an old man tries to cut his head off at a Kinko’s, and then his wife wanders into an abandoned insane asylum by herself at night because that’s a totally normal thing that people do, and she finds Jim Carrey’s old saxophone in a steamer trunk which is how she knows that he’s actually the author of the book, and also a murderer, and Jim Carrey is like “Maybe I’ll just get hit by a bus and end it,” and his son is like “Dad!” so then Jim Carrey says “I’m not going to get hit by a bus because I’m tricking fate by making myself go to jail.” FACT: there’s no such thing as fate if you go to jail first. FACT: jail brings families together.

In watching the movie you’re supposed to be convinced that the number 23 is everywhere, and leads to madness, so the street address of the bookstore where Jim Carrey finds the book is 599 (5+9+9), and the story begins on February 3 (2/3), and a dog’s name is Ned (N=14, E=5, D=4). Except, it’s not spooky that some screenwriter sat in his room for six months counting out the numerical value of dog names, and it’s similarly unsurprising that a horrible actress has 23 pairs of shoes in her closet because SHE DOESN’T EXIST, and SOMEONE WROTE THAT NUMBER OF SHOES IN THE SCRIPT.

To be fair: “What are these shoes doing in the trash?” is funnier than anything Seth McFarlane has ever done, so there’s that. The other problem with the spooky number conceit is that the number 23 isn’t everywhere and doesn’t lead to madness, so within the first fifteen minutes you’re confronted with logic problems. For example:

I even tried to do weird math like subtract the 4 from the number of days in January (27), but it just doesn’t make any sense and I’m a nerd. It’s also frustrating how any variation on 23 counts? Because someone said so? So now I have to be scared of the number 32, and the number 23.5? No, David Blaine.

And then there’s the acting. You know, when Jim Carrey first took on a non-spastic acting job with the Truman Show, there was some concern over whether or not he’d be able to play a man whose body wasn’t governed by the laws of slapstick (for every action there is an equal and opposite kick in the balls.) And while Carrey did fine in Truman Show and the nation averted potential disaster, The Number 23 gives us a vision of what Carrey’s career might have been. He probably would have had to create an Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind machine for himself to erase all the memories of his own career. Although the scene in which he discovers that he’s not a normal guy but a psychotic killer because there is a saxophone in his basement is SSSSSSSMOKIN’.

In the end, this probably isn’t the Worst Movie of All Time. It lacks the pretensions of a Southland Tales, the false morality play of a Death Sentence, or the animatronic aliens who shoot real lasers of a Baby Geniuses. Besides, like I said, if we’re going to start including Joel Schumacher movies than it’s basically just a race for the bottom. That guy’s the white M. Night Shyamalan.

Next Week: Alexander. As always make your suggestions for TWMOAT in the comments or in an email. If you have not before, please consult the Official Rules.

Comments (32)
  1. gabeiac  |   Posted on Jun 30th, 2008 0

    Pi meets The Neverending Story?

  2. bree  |   Posted on Jun 30th, 2008 +2

    i know i have nominated it before, but van helsing.

    also, not sure if the number 23 is the number per say, but i dated a boy who got all crazy with a certain number. i can no longer remember what number it was (it had something to do with birth dates and social security numbers…? add them all up and divide by a certain number and everyone’s all come out identical….?) because, for obvious reasons, i was drunk the entire time i dated this person.

  3. van helsing is entertaining, i think. especially if you expect it to be bad. then it’s just funny.

    has anyone nominated millenium man yet? i think that should be on the list.

  4. I am sorry The Number 23 did not win The Worst Movie Of All Time, but I’m glad I got to nominate it. After I watched it, I spent at least a half hour online trying to find out if people hated it as much as I did. Also, if he LOVED this book so much, why did it take him so long to read it? It was like 80 pages.

    Also: Topsy Kretts. No.

    • Hi – he took forEVER to finish that book. Also, I loved it the entire time – because I was constantly pausing the movie and opening my mind to allow for things that were sorta related to 23 being maddening – until I could figure out why anyone but him was driven crazy by the number. It made sense due to his family’s psychological background but um. The old guy? REally? And the Blond Suicide?! Who has a huge face, btw.

  5. alllllllllrrrrrrrrighty then.

  6. Ricky  |   Posted on Jun 30th, 2008 -1

    I AM SAM.

  7. Adam  |   Posted on Jun 30th, 2008 0

    Zardoz! Zardoz! You must watch Zardoz! It is the WORST movie of all time!

    • pen  |   Posted on Jul 2nd, 2008 0

      dude, if you eat enough hash cakes, zardoz is the pinnacle of everything ever done. it’s sublime.


  8. i hate this movie so much. i didn’t even make it to the end and i freaking paid to watch it…so bitter!

  9. Mandy  |   Posted on Jun 30th, 2008 0 aka Paparazzi (2004)

    i’m pretty sure it was released in theaters, i myself saw it on television when some jackass at TBS or something decided to program it. Daniel Baldwin is in it and by the transitive power of THE BALDWINS it has an “at least B-’ actor in it. he was on celebrity fat camp. i’m also pretty sure it’s the worst movie ever. it was also directed by a Hollywood hairstylist, so theres that. i mean c’mon, he did Swayze’s hair in ’95. clearly qualified to direct feature films.

  10. …I am so confused as to what this movie is about now. There’s a book, and there are numbers, and people die, and a saxophone? Oh well.
    I suppose I should tell you how happy I was a few minutes ago when I was checking my feeds and saw there was a new “Worst Movie of All Time.” I’m really enjoying your suffering.

  11. Joel Schumacher should totally stop directing films. I still can’t believe he was the writer for Car Wash. Car Wash! And D.C. Cab! WTF? Are you ever going to get around to The Wicker Man?

  12. Jim Carrey’s Rules for Serious Acting:
    a) Never smile
    b) Seem bored
    c) Look like you just woke up from a nap
    d) Only open your eyes 3/4 of the way

  13. Matt  |   Posted on Jul 1st, 2008 0

    Ahem. Correction, Adam, Zardoz is the BEST movie of all time.
    And yes, 23 is the worst thing ever – in what universe does playing saxophone signify ‘cool, scary murderer’? It takes him 3/4 of the movie to figure out TOPSY KRETTS?!?! ARGH! I thought the nomination for ‘millennium man’ above was for ‘bicentennial man’ at first, and though i havent seen the former, the latter should definitely be nominated. ‘robot robin williams learns to love’ – vomit.

    ps: i will not go to second level with you.

  14. “The Number 23″ deserves this honor for sure, and Jim Carrey cannot act.

  15. Luke  |   Posted on Jul 1st, 2008 +1

    Why isn’t it called “The Number 5″ since 2+3=5 and they seem to be adding the digits of numbers together ad infinitum?

  16. nathan  |   Posted on Jul 1st, 2008 0

    Gigli. Two words: gobble, gobble.

  17. dave  |   Posted on Jul 2nd, 2008 -1

    How about Apocalypto? If anyone is about to make a case for this movie being passable, I suggest watching the bonus feature on the DVD “Becoming Mayan” which explains how Gibson and crew sincerely wanted to paint an authentic picture of what Mayan life must have been like. Then watch the movie. Also….why the F is it called Apocalypto??? No movie I’ve watched in the past ten years has made me as mad as this one.

    • Rich  |   Posted on Sep 14th, 2008 -1

      THANK you. I was loling out of sheer disbelief by the end of that piece of hideous shit. Everything in that movie killed you. Even the little monkey. And the rain.

  18. indie500  |   Posted on Jul 2nd, 2008 0

    why has no-one nominated AI or in her shoes yet, c’mon people!

  19. dizzee  |   Posted on Jul 2nd, 2008 0

    Worst movies of all time- hmmm- A.I . horrible horrible movie, all copies should be burnt, I agree with the bicentennial man vote too *shudders*, plus American Dreamz (I was forced to see this at the movie theatre a minute in and I felt the need to run.)

  20. Vic  |   Posted on Jul 2nd, 2008 0

    Dark Water is the worst movie of all time

  21. bicentennial man. hell yes. that movie is soooo long.

  22. mandark  |   Posted on Jul 3rd, 2008 0

    you should watch the movie ice queen… it really is possibly one of the worst movies ever

  23. Schumacher directed “Falling Down” and “The Lost Boys,” so back off, dead breath! Please pick “Bringing Down The House” next. Thank you.

  24. Luca  |   Posted on Jul 6th, 2008 +1

    Is it possible no one nominated “The League Of The Extraordinary Gentlemen” yet? It has the star “power” and one of the worst scripts ever – including countless plot holes & historical uncorrectness.

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