Some have suggested that Jim Carrey is poorly cast in the role of Steven Russell, the con artist whose story is told in I LOVE YOU, PHILLIP MORRIS. It's been said that his performances are too glossy, too on-the-surface for us to believe him as lovestruck and will to do everything and anything for that love.
I believe he is IDEALLY cast because of that. It's true that Carrey is not a classically trained actor...he is just very good at faking emotion (lots of actors do that, of course). But think about one of his most acclaimed performances, as Andy Kaufmann in MAN ON THE MOON. Kaufmann was a cipher, a man who deliberately avoided showing his real self by faking one "public persona" after another until he had no real persona at all. Carrey was pitch perfect. In PHILLIP MORRIS, he plays a gay man who initially lives a lie of being straight. He also joins the police force, not because he wants to fight crime, but as an avenue to getting access to paperwork that will show him who is real mother is. (And when he finally meets her, she slams the door on him. He was the middle child, and he wants to know why she kept her first child and her third, but not him.)
Eventually, he amicably ends his marriage and perhaps over-compensates by living a lavish Key West lifestyle...flamboyantly gay. He funds this lifestyle elaborate con games. The way Carrey plays Russell, we're never sure if Russell is actually a little self-deluded and half believes the cons...or is he just so good at them because there's no real Steven Russell inside the body. This disconnect from reality allows Carrey to jump everywhere emotionally with great facileness but we also never know when or if what we're seeing is really what Steven Russell is feeling. I liked this. Does this man have any self-insight, or is he faking everything...even love?
For when he is sent to jail, he falls BIG TIME for a fellow inmate, Phillip Morris (Ewan MacGregor). The feeling is mutual...or is it. Certainly, Morris loves Russell. Does Russell really love Morris, or is he just fulfilled in some way by being loved, and thus will do anything to keep winning the approval. And does it matter? They both seem happy with each other.
Eventually, both are on the outside, and the question becomes, will Carrey go straight, or will his desire to keep Morris living in the lap of luxury drive him to further cons? The answer is not hard to guess, and where the film goes from there is too much fun for me to ruin now.
In reality, although based on a true story, the entire film lives at an exaggerated, slightly fake level. It's just so hard to believe Steven Russell did all the things the movie says he did. (Although apparently he did!). But it strikes such a rich tone that frankly the film is a blast from beginning to end. Russell has seemingly endless depths of trickery that he can go to...and Carrey plays the role with gusto. "Gusto" is a word I seldom trot out...but it is SO appropriate here. He's having a ball playing a guy having a ball. And MacGregor is a delight as Morris. He's filmed in such a way that he practically glows. He's slightly fey, slightly effeminate...but it never struck me as a caricature. We DO believe he loves Russell.
There are plenty of plot hi-jinks throughout the film...including one of the funniest and cleverest prison breaks since SHAWSHANK. It's certainly quite entertaining just at that level. But watching these two guys absolutely grab the screen is the enduring pleasure. And yes, there is plenty of relatively graphic smooching and sex in the film. I say "relatively" because if what we saw was between a man and a woman, we'd scarcely bat an eye. But because it's two men, some of the physicality is a bit surprising to see in a mainstream movie. Carrey & MacGregor play it with nary a wink or a hesitation...and thus their relationship has real spark. It's sexy and fun and romantic.
The film is too lightweight and frothy to really be great...but it is a wonderfully good time nonetheless, and should be enjoyed by any adult audience not afraid to see Carrey and MacGregor do some serious smooching.
I loved this movie mainly because I love to watch movies based on real people and facts. I’m a nerd, so I always watch the special features and I like to read up on the real people to see how much the movie differs from the real facts and surprisingly, they didn’t change much. This movie stars Jim Carey as Steven Russell, a cop living in Georgia, who after a life-changing event realizes he’s gay and begins to live his life that way. He is a married man with a child, so instead … more
***1/2 out of **** What makes "I Love You Phillip Morris" a special 2010 release is not its nigh consistent sense of humor, not only the taut performances, and not only the smart script; but also the heart that this film has, and it's bigger than that of most movies I've seen recently. Few movies have hearts at all, which doesn't surprise me, because money-grabbing cinema cannot have a heart, much less should it be called "cinema". Anyways, I must get back to this review. … more
“I Love You Philip Morris” tells the real life story of Steven Jay Russell, who in 1998 received an unprecedented 144-year prison sentence for fraud, conning, impersonating, and multiple escapes from Houston’s Harris County Jail. The film shows us sequences that seem utterly impossible, but in fact actually happened, which only goes to show that truth really is stranger than fiction. No, I will not describe them to you. Enjoying the film depends on the audience’s reaction … more
I LOVE YOU PHILILP MORRIS Written and Directed by John Requa and Glenn Ficarra Starring Jim Carrey, Ewan McGregor and Leslie Mann Phillip Morris: Enough romance. Let’s fuck. I suppose it is fitting that a movie about a man who never quite grasps who he truly is should suffer from the same issues. I LOVE YOU PHILLIP MORRIS is a rather ridiculous account of the life of Steven Jay Russell, an American con man … more
What a trippy movie. I love that it's filmed as Steven Russell's state of mind, where everything is tranquil, rationalized and all rainbows despite all the trouble and harm that he caused, and the severity of his crimes. I can't think of a better actor for this role than Jim Carey. Totally convincing.
The story begins with Russell, played by Jim Carrey, on his deathbed recalling the events of his life that led him there. He begins with his life in Texas as a happily married police officer who plays the organ at church, prays every night with his wife (Leslie Mann) and spends his off hours searching for the biological mother who gave him up as a child. That, and hes gay. But after finding and being handily rejected by the mother who gave him up as a baby, Steven leaves his life and family behind to go out into the world and be his true, flamboyantly gay self. He moves to Miami, finds a boyfriend (Rodrigo Santoro) and begins living the high life. He realizes quickly though, that a life of luxury is expensive, leading this resourceful former cop to turn to a life as a conman. But when his con work finally catches up with him, Steven is sent to prison where he meets, and almost instantly falls in love with Phillip Morris, played by Ewan McGregor. From there the story becomes a Don Quixote-esque story of a forlorn lover who cannot bear to be separated from his soul-mate. He will go to any lengths to be with Phillip, including but not limited to breaking out of jail on multiple occasions, impersonating Phillips lawyer and fraudulently becoming the CFO of a major corporation.