Sunday, April 24, 2011

I LOVE YOU PHILLIP 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 with an uncanny ability to break out of prisons. On one of his fateful visits to the big house, he met the love of his life, Phillip Morris, and proceeded to break them both out of prison so that they could live happily ever after. His story has it all, from dangerous escapes to fraudulent scams to even gay prison sex but yet somehow, in the hands of writing/directing team, John Requa and Glenn Ficarra (CATS & DOGS), his life amounts to nothing more than a big old boring mess.

Russell was adopted as a baby. He grew up to become a police officer in a small town. He married and had children. He felt abandoned but aside from that gaping hole in his heart, he was content. He was at least until one day, when he got into an automobile accident and decided he had enough of living a lie. It was time for Russell to live as an out and proud homosexual. He divorced, moved to Miami and got himself a cute, younger boyfriend and, if you are to believe the incredibly tacky clichéd picture the directors paint, he also got too matching miniature dogs to parade up and down the street with said younger, cuter boyfriend. There was just one tiny problem; being gay is expensive and Russell had no skills that could afford him the lavish lifestyle he and his boy toy had grown accustomed to.

This is when Russell turned to insurance fraud. It is also the point where the film starts to get thoroughly lost. Russell is played by Jim Carrey, who is the first person who comes to my mind when I picture believable gay men strutting down Miami Beach in white cargos and a T-shirt that is two sizes too small. I guess the costume people wanted to make sure there was no confusion over his sexuality, just in case it wasn’t coming through in the performance. I personally think Carrey doesn’t get the credit he deserves for some of his dramatic turns but the trouble here is he can’t seem to decide whether this particular turn is meant to be dramatic or comedic. I’m sure he had no assistance from his directors mind you. There are some genuine attempts at touching moments in the film and Carrey handles them as well as he can but then the next scene will rely solely on Carrey’s humorous side, only without the actual humour.

And what of Phillip Morris? I mean, he is in the title and all. Phillip Morris is another minor offender doing time, played by Ewan McGregor, who is as swishy as he can be with his pretty blue eyes and horrifically dyed strawberry blond hair. The twosome meet in a library one day and it is love at first sight. Well, they stare longingly into each other’s eyes for no reason other than the fact that they are gay and standing next to each other so naturally I assume this is the great love it is meant to be. Once together, I LOVE YOU PHILLIP MORRIS doesn’t seem to know what to do with them or itself. Is it a comedy or a serious romance? Is this really the treatment of someone’s life story? Because if it is, it plays as though it were completely made up or implausible. More importantly, is the intended audience meant to be gay or straight? It shouldn’t matter but there are moments when it isn’t clear whether the filmmakers are laughing with or at their heroes. To that extent though, I guess it doesn’t matter who the audience is meant to be as I don’t see there being much of an audience for this film at all.

4 comments:

Film Conqueror said...

Your last line made me laugh! Jim Carey and Ewan Mcgregor seem like an odd couple to be onscreen together in the first place...but to be together in a homosexual relationship-- now that's just crazy.

La Dash said...

I saw 'I Love You Phillip Morris' recently too and had similar mixed feelings about it.

The film did cause me to consistently giggle and it definitely has a top notch leading men, but for the most part I was left confused. Was the film actually funny or was it highly offensive? They tackle really interesting ideas but .. I don't know..

I really would like to know what the director was thinking.

I do think it's worth a look though!

inMovies said...

This is definitely not a movie for everyone. Some scenes can be a tad much in terms of graphic nudity; however it is great to see such performances by both Jim Carey and Ewan McGregor. Something that has yet to be done on the big screen.

Black Sheep said...

Hey all. Thanks for the compliments. Personally, I don't feel that this movie is not for everyone because of any graphic content; it is not for everyone because it isn't very good. And what graphic nudity? It was all taken out (Thank God!). So I can only assume you mean graphic sexuality,inMovies. And discomfort with homosexuality is not a good enough excuse for me to not watch a movie. Gay people everywhere have been watching straight people get it on in the movies forever and they are still able to look past that and see the film for what it is.

And, La Dash, there were two directors on this project .. which is even worse because, between the two of them, neither was able to see the mess they were making.