Last night, when I went to see the enormously excellent Pan’s Labyrinth, I had the fun of sitting through some of the lamest trailers I’ve ever seen in my young life. Trailers are a constant source of irritation for me, but I get so excited when I see a decent preview for a worthwhile-looking movie that I forgive all the boring trailers, the ones that go for the same tired tricks, the ones that give the whole movie away, the ones that cull the best jokes, such that the movie itself turns out to be even less than the sum of its parts. These trailers tested my devotion. First the Diane Keaton bonfire o’ snores Because I Said So, which can’t hide how crappy the movie actually is; then Adam Sandler’s attempt at Dramatic Actorhood in Reign Over Me, and lastly the exquisite agony of Joel Schumacher directing Jim Carrey in the freaky numerological what-reality-are-we-in-now horror film, The Number 23.
The trailer for 23 starts off relatively coherently and then dissolves into frenetic but swampy overediting, which I’m guessing mirrors the film’s structure. Carrey’s character discovers a typeset red-bound book called “The Number 23” in a bookstore and starts finding the number woven throughout his life in increasingly unsettling ways. The paranoia mounts and then explodes into gibbering insanity. As far as I could tell from the trailer, he may be living two lives, or he may be crazy, or who knows. And who cares. My favourite part comes when Danny Huston, in one of those Well-Dressed Expositor roles, says, “… and 2 divided by 3 is 0.666, the number of the beast”.
Actually, I think that’s the number of Talking Out Your Ass. Two over three isn’t 0.666, and anyway, the number of the beast is actually 666, which beats outs 0.666 by 665.334. To be fair to Schumacher & Friends, I can see how that would lack dramatic punch: “Bad news, sucker – two over three is oh point bar six, the world’s most evil repeating decimal!”. Maybe 2/3 is the fraction of the beast, and the root of negative 666 is the imaginary number of the beast. I’m glad I paid attention to my high school math lessons. It’s given me the power to mock a Joel Schumacher film.
My other favourite bit features shots with Carrey in black jeans and dyed black hair, topless and greasy-gaunt, a Goth of Great Depravity. Just as 8mm made up a ridiculous world of underground porn connoisseurs – a kind of pornographic fantasy of porn – 23 seems to be prey to the usual misunderstandings about Hard-Boiled people. I don’t if Carrey’s alter ego is supposed to be evil or just bad-ass, but pretending to be an East Village hustler circa 1970 doesn’t convince me. Sat-e-llite of Looove!