I Love You Phillip Morris Directed by: Glenn Ficarra, John Requa Cast: Jim Carrey, Ewan McGregor, Leslie Mann, Rodrigo Santoro Running Time: 1 hr 42 mins Rating: R Release Date: December 17, 2010
PLOT: A car accident makes Steven Russell (Carrey) examine his life. He admits he's gay and becomes a con man to support his new lifestyle. This leads to jail and his new love (McGregor).
WHO'S IT FOR? It's a great performance from Carrey, so that alone should get some to see it. It's also pretty fun and a nutty "true" story. Keep in mind, you're following a con man.
EXPECTATIONS: All I knew about this films were the delays. Lots of delays. That's never a good sign. But you have Carrey and McGregor as a couple in prison. What's not to like with that idea?
ACTORS: Jim Carrey as Steven Russell: Another fantastic performance by one of the hardest working actors. He's given himself over to roles like Man on the Moon and Ace Ventura (yes, I said Ace). He gives the same dedication to Steven. There is a trust issue here though. Steven narrates the film. He's a con man. Do you see the problem? Look, sometimes you love the class clown, sometimes you just want him to change. Carrey manages to go back and forth many times over the course of this film. Score: 8
Ewan McGregor as Phillip Morris: Phillip is a sweetheart. He's also an enabler, a pushover, needy, naive and let me just repeat naive. Unfortunately, because of all of those previous characteristics it's hard to root for Phillip. It's also hard to feel sorry for him. Steven declares he will take care of Phillip and that's all Phillip needs to hear. I just need the occasional confrontation or backbone from Phillip to feel love coming from these two. Score: 5
Leslie Mann as Debbie: Mann is a sweetheart, and her character Debbie is completely blindsided by Phillip. She turns into an enabler as well, but not nearly to the extent of Phillip. All Debbie does is roll her eyes and continue to believe Steven means well. It's an easy roll for Mann to play but there isn't much too it. Score: 6
Rodrigo Santoro as Jimmy: Jimmy is Steven's first boyfriend. It's not all fun and games between the two. Jimmy has a very sad end, but I didn't understand the purpose behind it. He tries to get Steven to find someone new, and do things differently. Do you think Steven gets it? Maybe this is were the supposed editing and reediting went wrong with the film. Score: 6
TALKING: Gay, gay, gay, gay, gay, gay, gay ... Hey, it's not me. That's an exact quote from Steven in this story. The movie actually focuses more on the cons and the prison life compared to the sexuality of the characters. There's also a good bit of jokes from Steven's narration. Score: 7
SIGHTS: Great angles and makeup showcase a gaunt Jim Carrey, who goes through quite a transformation in the film. Or was that actually Carrey losing the weight? The color of Miami pops and the fashion of the times are nicely highlighted by Steven and Phillip's fashion sense. Score: 6
SOUNDS: The musical score brings to mind Raising Arizona, which is a nice compliment. It's the whistling that pushes it over in a playful way to keep things moving along. None of the songs, not even "Dance Hall Days" bring the film to another level. Score: 7
BEST SCENE: Even though these are plot spoilers, I'm going to be a little cryptic here. When one of the characters gets seriously ill ... let's just say the process is worth the outcome.
ENDING: We get to know some facts about Steven and Phillip which almost come as a shock to the system to remember this is based on a true story.
QUESTIONS: What was the cause of this delayed release? Is a "gay" film really that tough to sell even though it's not the focus of the film?
REWATCHABILITY: I have a huge pile of movies to get through for the end of the year. So, while I wouldn't mind watching this film again, it won't be any time soon.
I Love You Phillip Morris is a tough film to love, but its charming enough so you keep giving it, and Jim Carrey's performance, a second chance. The comedy works, especially when the film is as tough as any prison movie (like Shawshank Redemption). It's that juxtaposition of violence and romance that gives this film a kick. The romance never turns into a quality love or relationship for the flawed characters of Steven and Phillip. Because of that, you can admire the performance of Carrey, but you won't fall in love. It's like a gay Informant! with Matt Damon. You feel uneasy trusting the lead even though you know it's entertaining. I Love You Phillip Morris is definitely worth your time, but it's just a "like."
FINAL SCORE: 7/10