JIM CARREY EWAN MCGREGOR
I LOVE YOU PHILLIP MORRIS
This is the first we have seen of Golden Globe winner Jim Carrey since his 2008 comedy flop Yes Man. Carrey’s popularity has taken a steep dive in recent years; Carrey has been forced to explore alternate genres, which has turned out awkward films like The Number 23 and animated movies like The Christmas Carol. The I Love You Phillip Morris project had a difficult time finding a domestic distributer, and who can blame the studios from shying away from a homosexual comedy that is based on the true story of a Texas con-man. From the directors of Bad Santa, this film uses as much vulgarity as possible to get the audience to laugh at moments we would otherwise be ashamed to watch.
Steven Russell (Carrey) was a married cop in Virginia Beach who tracked down his birth mother hoping to find some resolve and an explanation for her giving him away. She shut the door in his face and Russell decided to live the life he always wanted as a gay man buying everything he liked. So he left his wife, moved to Miami, scammed everyone in sight, and landed in prison, where he met the love of his life, Phillip Morris (McGregor). Russell promised to take care of the more fragile and needy Morris, but his idea of caring for someone is just more scams and lies, which landed him in prison over and over again. Nothing was above or beyond Russell’s limitations for a con.
This barely believable true story comes from Houston Texas, although for financial reasons was filmed on location in Louisiana. While Carrey certainly does take a risk with his career, it’s a risk that few will care about since the new age of comedy has long left the Dumb and Dumber star’s box office topping days behind. Few people will see this film due to it's small release and subject matter. Subject matter notwithstanding, I Love You Phillip Morris is caught somewhere between Shattered Glass and Catch Me If You Can. However, while the author of the book, Steve McVicker, says he tried to keep the story focused on the unbelievable stunts this guy pulled, the film spends lots of time devoted to his homosexual lifestyle.
With one too many penis shaped clouds and dirty jokes it’s hard to take this Russell character seriously. After each fraudulent act, some of which we see coming, others even the audience is surprised about, the viewer comes to see the leading character as nothing but a scum bag. Films like The Talented Mr. Ripley, where the leading character is also the villain, is just more beautifully executed and expertly performed. Here we don’t care one way or the other for this man and Carrey isn’t a good enough actor to work that out. This story may have fared better as a drama; instead, the lighthearted nature of the script goes for laughs and profanity before truly trying to expose this criminal.
Final Thought – A risky film that doesn’t pay off.
By: Dustin Chase W.
Editor: Michael Woody