I Love You Phillip Morris

Jim Carrey would make one hell of a villain. In the right director’s hands, his manic gestures and rubber face could conceal the inner workings of a darkly depraved man. We’ve seen hints of this Carrey – briefly as Hank in the Farrelly Brothers’ Me, Myself, and Irene – and to a lesser effect as the Riddler in Joel Schumacher’s Batman Forever (oh, and The Number 23). Along with Michael Cera (another actor I want to play a villain), Carrey has been pigeon-holed into acting in comedic fare when his considerable talents could be better used elsewhere (just look at Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind – the “anti-Jim Carrey” role that the actor shot out of the park). In I Love You Phillip Morris, Carrey is given the chance to chew on a meatier and darker role, but the film plays it safe by going for laughs based on the actor’s usual schtick.

Steve Russell (Jim Carrey) seems like he has the perfect life. He has a loving wife and family, and a steady career as a police officer. But he has a secret: he’s a con artist. Oh, and he’s gay.

Russell comes out to his wife one night after having sex with a man and then getting in a car accident afterwards. He looks at her from his hospital bed, shrugs his shoulders and tells her he’s gay. In the next scene he’s moved to Miami, divorced his wife, and taken on a young gay lover, leading to the greatest line about Russell’s justification for committing numerous cons: “Being gay is really expensive.”

Eventually, Russell gets caught and thrown in prison where he falls for the young Phillip Morris (Ewan McGregor), a small-time crook who seems to be a bit too overly sensitive and polite to be serving a jail sentence. Unfortunately for the film, the relationship between the two men is neither interesting or believable. Russell seems too self-centered and manipulative to express genuine love. He escapes from prisons, pretends to be a lawyer and C.F.O (a successful one at that too), and cons his way into millions of dollars, all under the guise of providing a better life for Phillip. Maybe that’s how he justifies it to himself, but it’s easy to see his true motivations: he just likes being a criminal.

Carrey flirts with his darker side in the role, showing promise that his career doesn’t have to tailspin into movies about talking CGI penguins and that maybe it’s time he starts making films for an older audience (18+). Carrey should go talk to Christopher Nolan. Dude was able to make Robin Williams horrifying.

While I Love You Phillip Morris is an unconvincing romance, it’s a fairly entertaining look at a brilliant con man and escape artist, providing the “Greatest Hits” collection of his various escapades. It’s a gay Catch Me If You Can. I just wish that it had some heft to it and not such a featherweight tone.

Grade: C+


One Response to I Love You Phillip Morris

  1. Julia Turnbull says:

    Just another amazing blog post. I guess I won’t spend the money to see this movie!! it needs at least a B+ to make it worthwhile! Are you going to review Bridesmaids??

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