Rating: 4 out of 5 stars
Genre: Comedy, Drama, Romance
Opens locally Christmas Day, 2010, Rated R
Run Time: 1 hour, 38 minutes
Starring: Jim Carrey, Ewan McGregor, Leslie Mann
Directed by Glenn Ficarra
"I Love You Phillip Morris" is maybe one of the most enjoyable, delightful, and off-the-wall movies of the year. An odd film that is also one of the most touching portraits we've seen, dealing with a homosexual relationship.
The Plot. What makes "I Love You Phillip Morris" all the better, is that this unbelievable tale actually happened. Carrey plays the real-life Steven Jay Russell, an ex-cop who comes out of the closet after a car accident wakes him up to his true nature. Prior to this, he was a church-going father married to his sweet wife (Mann). Once out, he begins a life as a con artist to help support his new partner, and his crimes land him in prison where he meets the new love of his life, Phillip Morris (McGregor). No, no relation whatsoever to the tocacco company. Anyways, this bizarre relationship between Steven and Phillip grows, and leads to Russell follow his love at all costs. This leads him to 4 different prison escapes as he tries over and over again to reunite with Phillip.
Carrey Christmas. To say that the story is improbable would be an understatement. But Carrey, in the best performance of his career, never hits a false note. His ability to shift gears from over-the-top clown to real dramatic acting is what makes this the most daring role of 2010. He is perfectly cast, and his presence allows the movie's sweet and quirky tone to drift from drama to comedy and back again. This presents certain problems, as the movie never quite finds a voice as either a comedy or a drama, but Carrey's dedication to this strange man has us deeply believing that he is in love with Phillip. If the role was handled less delicately, the romance between Phillip and Steven would be unbelievable and the movie would fall into slapstick.
Crazy Love. The true draw to this film though, is the actual story itself. The movie doesn't start off by saying "based on a true story", it instead begins by telling us "this really happened." That difference in phrasing really works, as it is a plot so truly whacky that it would have to be real...nobody could possibly think something like this up.
A very catchy, repeated music score perfectly matches the zaniness of what we are seeing, and I found myself humming it for a few days afterwards. In a stellar year of male performances such as Colin Firth in the King's Speech, and James Franco in 127 Hours, Carrey may not get much attention for his role, and he is still seen as a "comedian" more than a respected dramatic actor. But I challenge you to watch "I Love You Phillip Morris" and tell me any other actor in Hollywood who could have pulled off this role.
Love at First Sight. So I think you'll love "Phillip Morris", just maybe not as obsessive as Steven. It's definitely the quirkiest movie released in quite some time, and it'll send you straight to Wikipedia after watching it, as you decide for yourself...this couldn't all possibly be true....right???
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