I Love You Phillip Morris (2010)

April 21, 2011

Starring: Jim Carrey, Ewan McGregor, Leslie Mann
Director: Glenn Ficarra, John Requa

Quick Thoughts: I really had no idea what to expect from this movie. The title led me to believe it might be about the cigarette industry, but it has absolutely nothing to do with that. Rather, Jim Carrey stars as Steven Russell, a seemingly regular family man who makes some drastic life changes after he suffers a brutal car accident. He admits to his wife that he’s actually homosexual and begins a career as con man that eventually finds him locked up in prison, where he meets Phillip Morris (Ewan McGregor) and they have a soul mate connection. Apparently, this is actually a true story based on real people and that fact makes it really hard to swallow because it’s ultimately a tragedy… yet it’s presented as a comedy. There was a moment during the second act of this film where I seriously considered turning it off. Russell’s first stint in prison when he befriends Phillip is excruciating to watch. I’m no homophobe–I thoroughly enjoyed Brokeback Mountain and Milk–but the focus on these characters’ sexuality is over-the-top and, at times, gratuitous, to the point where it feels like it’s being rubbed in your face rather than eloquently portrayed. Fortunately, the story picks up when Steven and Phillip are released into society and the character of Steven Russell becomes quite fascinating; his ability to manipulate borders on genius levels and his repeated escapes from prison later in the film are wildly creative and successful… and often funny. Even so, I can’t help but wonder what the real Steven Russell is like; as smart as his cons are, Jim Carrey mostly plays him as a fool… and maybe he is. After all, he is spending the rest of his life in a maximum security prison.

Viewings: 1
Replay Value: Barely made it through the first viewing.
Sequel Potential: None.
Oscar Potential: None
Nudity: I can’t remember… but there were plenty of uncomfortable scenes.
Grade: 4/10 (Rental)
Recommendation: I struggled through this movie, for sure, but it wound up being watchable. Steven Russell’s story is intriguing, but the execution here left a lot to be desired. No need to go out of your way to see it.

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