Tuesday, October 18, 2011

3 short paragraphs: I Love You Phillip Morris

2009, Glenn Ficarra & John Requa -- Netflix

There was a small rumbling last year about how good Jim Carrey was in this film, although I can't remember the source, so it was probably from somewhere that still considers Carrey to be that Ace Ventura rubberfaced funnyman rather than the capable actor from Eternal Sunshine or Man in the Moon. He's effective here in a light comedy/drama/gay romance but it's not his strongest role because it's not the strongest film.

This is not to denigrate the film, which is actually rather enjoyable, it's just a little fluffier than I think it could have been. The premise is a keen one though, with Carey playing Steven Russell, a police officer/father/husband who gets into a serious car accident, decides to embrace his homosexuality, and goes on a crime/grifting spree where he gets arrested, goes to jail, busts out, gets arrested, goes back to jail, meets the love of his life in Phillip Morris (Ewen MacGregor), gets freed, poses as Morris' lawyer, frees him, cons his way into a job as CFO of a large company, embezzles, gets arrested again (as does Morris), and fakes his own death. Russell is portrayed as a compulsive criminal without malice, but unable to stop lying, even to the man he loves. The romantic angle of the film is soft and sweet, perhaps too much so, although Carrey and MacGregor seem committed to the characters and their relationship.

The execution of the cons and Russell's general audacity are highly entertaining and more the focus of the film. The outline of the film is actually based on a real-life person, and it's surprising how few of the beats are fabricated for entertainment value.... Oddly, I don't really have much else to say about the film. It's cute.

Further reading:
The Guardian interview with Steven Jay Russell
The Great Escapee - Esquire