Review: I Love You Phillip Morris

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I Love You Phillip Morris has a lot going for it, but I suspect it will forever be remembered as the one where Jim Carrey f*cks a man in the ass.

The movie is a romantic dramedy based on the real life exploits of serial con man and imposter Steven Russell (Jim Carrey).

The film opens with Russell living a dual life as a respectable family man by day, and vivacious homosexual by night. A near fatal car accident prompts Steven to come out, and openly live the life the he has always wished for. Now free from the shackles of his facade, Russell intends to live life to its fullest, and embarks on a care free flamboyant life style that does not come cheap. Steven soon turns to a life of crime to fund his extravagance . His illegal activities draw the attention of the law, and he is arrested and sent to prison. While incarcerated, Russell meets fellow inmate, Phillip Morris (Ewan McGregor). It is love at first site for the unlikely pair, and two quickly become inseparable.

When Morris is released early from prison, Russell cant bear to be without him, and uses his arsenal of criminal talents to escape, in order to be reunited with his beloved Morris.

I Love You Phillip Morris is the bastard love child of Catch me if you can, and Brokeback Mountain – with enough cock and blow job gags to make even Superbad blush! The movie is a much darker and explicit tale than the marketing suggest. Not suprising considering this movie comes from the same warped minds that brought us (the superior) Bad Santa.

Accepting the part of Russell Stevens was certainly a brave choice for Jim Carrey. Not only because the movie contains graphic gay sex, and explicit language, but because the character is such a self-ish and unlikable ass. This is undoubtedly Carrerys darkest performance to date. His character abandons his family to live an indulgent and extravagant life he can not afford, and aquires wealth by scamming others out of theres. Even when he is helping other people, he is only doing so because there is something in it for him and his partner. Russell Stevens is not some one you would usually be routing for, but to Carreys credit, he still manages to make the character likeable, despite his quite substantial flaws.

In terms of performance, Carrey is on top form – cementing the fact that the actor is now at his best when playing the straight man – ok bad choice of words on this occasion, but you know what I mean. My only minor criticism is that Carreys persona tends to flutter from the serious (Enternal Sunshine) to the wacky (Ace Ventura) sporadically through-out the film. This unintentional dual performance hinders the movie slightly – suggesting that the film makers couldn’t quite nail the tone of the film. This is a minor criticism though, and Carrey delivers an honest and rounded performance that is shockingly different from what he have seen him do before.

Ewan McGregor plays the object of Russells affections – Phillip Morris. McGregor’s character is far more sympathetic than Carreys, and the actor delivers a sweet and likeable performance as the shy and trusting Texan.  McGregor and Carrey have fantastic onscreen chemistry together, and make quite the lovely couple. 

Director Luc Besson delivers a visually bright and engaging film, that moves at a comfortable pace that never out stays its welcome. Your jaw will literally drop at some of the things Steven Russell managed to achieve (like blagging his way to CFO of top pharmaceutical company) with nothing more than intelligence, charm and determination, made all the more incredible considering it is based on fact.

Some minor embellishments aside, the movie is a surprisingly accurate re-telling of the mans life. Click here for more information – http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Steven_Jay_Russell – but be warned, doing so will spoil some key moments in the movie.

As mentioned before – my only real criticism is that it feels a little muddled in terms of tone. It is ironic that a major theme of the movie, is the search for ones true self – because the movies seems just a lost as its lead. The movie darts from being unflinchingly realistic and somber, to romantically cartoony and sugary – never settling on a consistent identity.  The movie is a little to dark and explicit to be a comedy, and a little to silly be an all out drama. I know it may sound a little closed-minded, but I honestly believe that if the movie had of toned down the graphic sex, and language – it would have been a far more accessable, and more than likely, successful movie. The best aspects of the film would have still been there without it.

In Summary – The movie is entertaining, interesting and well acted, and I can easily see this movie becoming quite the cult favourite in the years to come. But I still walked away from the cinema with very little affection for it. Personally, I found that the combination of an unpleasant main character, uneven tone and vulgarity only there to shock, left a bad taste in my mouth. A taste I would rather spit out than swallow…Oh my!

6/10

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2 Responses to “Review: I Love You Phillip Morris”

  1. James Says:

    You took Kirsty to a chick flick that wasnt a chick flick? Damn

  2. Danjo Kazooe Says:

    The draw of Jim Carrey is strong, and over powering…

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