Away from his signature comedy vehicles, Jim Carrey has more than proven himself as a very talented dramatic actor, and delivering more serious performances is something he explored at the beginning of the 2000s before eventually circling back around towards his trademark rubber-faced shtick and physical pratfalls.
For a while, it looked as though he was set to establish himself as a regular awards season contender after winning back-to-back Golden Globes for The Truman Show and Man on the Moon, one each for Best Actor in the Drama and Musical or Comedy categories. Since then, he’s found himself shortlisted for another two Globes for Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind and Showtime series Kidding, but when he tried his hand at a psychological thriller, he delivered what’s arguably the worst movie of his entire career.
Directed by Batman & Robin‘s Joel Schumacher, The Number 23 stars Carrey as a man who discovers a book about the titular digit, which sends him into a spiralling obsession after he learns that it appears to be based on his own life, and things obviously don’t end well for the character. It’s a decent enough premise for a twisting thriller, but the execution is laughable.
The plot, dialogue and acting is all over the shop, ranging from unintentionally hilarious to painfully wooden and on the nose, and despite aiming to take audiences to a very dark place thematically, The Number 23 is actually pretty funny in a ‘so bad it’s good’ kind of way. There’s a massive twist at the end that comes completely out of nowhere, and there’s not even a hint of logic to most of what unfolds on screen.
It’s one of Carrey’s worst-reviewed efforts on Rotten Tomatoes with an 8% score from 190 reviews, but there’s just something so fascinatingly terrible about it that diehard fans of the actor should check it out based on nothing but sheer morbid curiosity.