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The Number 23


• Turning an asinine numerological pseudo-theory into a frustratingly digressive, borderline-incomprehensible plot

• Adding "heart" by tying that plot into one family's history of suicide, which keeps returning as a crass visual motif

• Letting Jim Carrey do a "serious" turn, signified by his stupid-looking slacker hair

Defender: Director Joel Schumacher

Tone of commentary: Pleasantly chatty. Schumacher sips tea and veers off-topic, noting how one Chinese restaurant they shot in serves tasty cocktails—"I'm in AA, but I hear the Mai Tais are pretty great"—and delivering long monologues about how cinema helped him overcome the loss of his parents as a boy, and how the geniuses of tomorrow are making home movies today.

What went wrong: See "tone of commentary." The perpetually distracted Schumacher is as enraptured by the work of the set painters as he is by his cast. Every aspect of the movie gets singled out for copious praise, and he dismisses the movie's poor box office and bad reviews, insisting, "If it doesn't connect with you guys out there, then I consider it failing."

Comments on the cast: Schumacher has something nice to say about everyone, from Jim Carrey ("I hesitate to use the word 'genius' in Hollywood, so I'll do it with a small 'g'") to Virginia Madsen ("If she can be this woman that is nothing like her, that's what acting is") to Logan Lerman. ("Some of you may know him from Jack & Bobby, a very highly respected TV show… I never saw it.")

Inevitable dash of pretension: Schumacher gets sensitive about domestic abuse. "It's very difficult to do violence against women in a scene, because it's happening in front of you… It's always tough to see one of your stars—a female—covered in blood."

Commentary in a nutshell: "I always liked that this character had a bake shop. Now, of course, cakes have become the most expensive thing in the world, along with coffee and water and all the things that our grandparents used to get at the supermarket. Well, water they used to get for nothing. Anyway, that's another subject, Joel, and I'm way off the movie here."