Friday, June 4, 2010

I Love You Phillip Morris (2009)

At a glance:
Jim Carrey throws his all at playing famous con man Steven Russell in this lighthearted, sometimes hilarious romp through scams, prison, and love

Our review (with MAJOR spoilers):
Note: Please watch the movie first before reading any further!

Steven Russell (Jim Carrey) presents a compelling argument for nurture versus nature. Abandoned as a child, his life is shaped by deception and lies. He seems to be happily, passionately married to Debbie (Leslie Mann), but he’s living a double life. Some of his hidden moves are on the other side of the law. When he is arrested and incarcerated, he meets and falls in love with fellow inmate Phillip (Ewan McGregor), a sweet man whose naive nature has been taken advantage of before. Steven swears to protect him, but the only way he knows how is with money made from scams. Of course, that ends up having the opposite effect.

The film’s first 20 minutes are absolutely hilarious, especially if you have not been spoiled by a review like this one. Directors Glenn Ficarra and John Requa set a buoyant, lighthearted tone, deviate from it when required, and return to it, making for a true start-to-finish film experience. There are a couple of moments that may offend some people by making light of illness – but comedy does that sometimes – and it’s worth it for the surprise. Plus it’s based on a true story.

This is a wondrous starring role for Carrey, who gets to combine his gift for comedy (and, occasionally, his talent for bending his body into amusing shapes) with his latter day ability to create a sincere character. McGregor, one of my favorite actors, gets to play gay ‘straight’ here – not taking part in the comic side of things at all. Carrey’s character is based on a true person/story – check out the Steven Jay Russell wiki article for more information.

Rating:  3.5 of 4

Other reviewers said:
"It's the comic role of a lifetime for Jim Carrey, who apparently worked for union rates in order to help the film get made."
- Catherine Bray (Film4)

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