There's a real problem with the premise of The Number 23, and it's one that's never really addressed during the film. While Jim Carrey's character is busy becoming obsessed with the many (forced) coincidences when the particular number pops up, neither he nor his wife nor his son bother to ask a simple question: "Ok, so the number keeps popping up everywhere - so what?"
Somehow, the mere thought of the world being "TAKEN OVER" by the number becomes a threat unto itself, a harbinger of an empty doom ahead. However, it's not like if you see it three times in a row that the Candyman is going to come for you. Quite the contrary - nothing will end up happening. Terrifying, indeed.
The Number 23 is barely about the number itself - it's just a gateway to more plot twists and turns, and the vehicle for the characters' obsession. Despite the (apparently) somewhat documented history of the "23 Enigma," the movie could just have easily been based on 32 ("23 reversed!," as the characters point out so often - ooohhh!) or 74.
Since I had low expectations going in (the blaring warning was the words "Directed by Joel Schumacher"), I wasn't all that disappointed with 23. Jim Carrey does a fine job playing a guy on the verge of a nervous breakdown. Virginia Madsen gets to play dress as well, when she's not perfecting the "wife" role (Madsen currently co-stars in The Astronaut Farmer with Billy Bob Thornton, and recently co-starred with Harrison Ford in the box office/critical dud Firewall. So much for all that goodwill - and those good roles - garnered by her Sideways buzz.).
Fletch's Film Rating:
"You seem a decent fellow. I hate to kill you."