Notable Cast: Jim Carrey, Ewan McGregor, Leslie Mann, Rodrigo Santoro
Review: This is a movie not nearly enough people will see. Is it groundbreaking? No. But it deserves a lot more respect than it’s getting in the States. In the most recent news, a judge has blocked its U.S. release due to a lawsuit between its distributor and the company that sold the distribution rights of the film. But, many other countries have been able to enjoy the film and it already has a July release date in the U.K for its DVD, so that gives you an idea of just how long this film has been showing already. It has been highly well received in many places, complete with an impressive 81% on the Tomatometer (Rotten Tomatoes movie rating system) and a solid 6.8/10 from IMDB. Well, I was able to get my hands on a copy of the film and took the opportunity so many Americans won’t have until some kind of legal decision is made. And let me tell you, it’s a shame this film won’t be released this summer like it was supposed to be and films like Marmaduke, Killers, and Furry Vengeance are all-seeing the light of day. I Love You Phillip Morris is a comedy, a love story, and a prison break film all rolled into one. It stars Jim Carrey and Ewan McGregor and yes, they are the love story. Interested yet?
Steven Russell (Carrey) is your everyday family man. He works at the local police station; he has a beautiful wife, an adorable daughter, and the perfect little suburban home…along with a secret homosexual lifestyle he’s been hiding for years complete with sneaking out to be with other men. But, when Steven gets into a car accident on night, he realizes he needs to get a hold of his life and do what makes him happy. So he throws away everything he had worked for, and embraces his new/old homosexual lifestyle. When he realizes that his funds are having a hard time keeping up with his new life, he decides to get into the con business and tells a few little lies that makes him boatloads of cash. Until he’s caught that is. What Steven Russell doesn’t realize though is that his first trip to jail is going to change the rest of his life forever. In jail, he meets the sweetest and most caring man in the world, Phillip Morris (McGregor). He instantly falls in love. But, being in prison isn’t exactly the best place for a couple to be, so Steven gets back to his old conning ways to break out not only himself, but his love Phillip. With a new life, Phillip makes Steven promise to do everything by the books from now on, but they both find it’s a hard habit to break. Can Steven stay out of the conning business for his new-found love? Or will he end up back in jail, losing everything he worked so hard to “earn.”
First off, it’s great to see Jim Carrey in a decent movie again, something I haven’t seen much off lately except for the fantastic Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind. Carrey has no problem adapting to his homosexual persona, and lets just say he’s willing to do just about anything to prove it (it makes for some pretty interesting quick cuts). Ewan McGregor also did an extremely convincing job on his role as the other gay character Phillip Morris, and kept up with Carrey performance wise the entirety of the film. So just to recap you’ve got two straight actors playing two gay men who are completely in love with each other, and these guys hit it out of the park. They played a more convincing couple than any couple in a romantic comedy I’ve seen in a long time (Butler/Aniston and Kutcher/Heigl don’t have anything on Carrey/McGregor). The duo was totally emotionally invested in each other, and the relationship actually showed a lot of heart. Dare I say I even cared a little and felt emotionally attached to the couple at the end of the movie? This was the kind of twist I needed on the whole romantic comedy genre to keep it somewhat interesting. I feel like a lot of writers/directors stay away from the whole homosexual theme in fear that people will be turned off by it. But, use this movie as a perfect example to show that if it’s done right, the product can be ten times more rewarding and unique than just playing it safe.
But don’t get me wrong; it wasn’t all about the love story. Steven Russell was actually the main focus of the film despite Phillip Morris’ name being in the title, and Carrey’s character was rather funny. I never thought I’d say this, but Carrey might be funnier as a homosexual character than a straight character. The whole mix of the accent and the flamboyancy had my dying at parts, which Carrey’s over the top style was perfect for. And not to mention the whole con man aspect was carried out so well. The way Carrey played his character as a confident know-it-all made him the perfect con man. Steven Russell was the guy everyone looked up to and everyone wanted to know; yet no one would ever suspect he was faking everything. It was character perfection. When Ewan is on-screen he never steals any thunder from Carrey, but he has his share of funny/surprising moments as well (I think my favorite being him and Steven on the boat).
If you’re looking for any mix of comedy, romance, and criminals; then look no farther. Jim Carrey and Ewan McGregor fit into their roles so comfortably it was scary and the acting was top-notch. They worked perfectly together as a couple and created a totally dynamic relationship. The whole breaking out of prison only to come back for your loved one aspect gave the film even more charm and was extremely entertaining to watch. I Love You Phillip Morris is a one of a kind silly love story that also possesses a ton of heart and soul. Here you can find a story with some actual substance and meaning; something a lot of romantic comedies today lack. Leave it to two straight actors playing a gay couple to show the straight couples how it’s done.
Final Rating: 7.5 awkward Carrey/McGregor encounters out of 10