I LOVE YOU PHILLIP MORRIS Review
Jim Carrey and Ewan McGregor: it’s the most unlikely pairing that you would make in Hollywood, but as the old saying goes, “opposites attract.” In a holiday season filled with popular, fun films like Harry Potter, The Chronicles of Narnia and Burlesque, it’s easy to see how a piece such as this one might fall off the box office list. In fact, I LOVE YOU PHILLIP MORRIS may rank as one of the most underrated films of 2010 – a smartly written romantic comedy that proves you don’t need animation to enjoy a feel-good film.
Based on an inspiring true story, the film follows the life of Steven Russell (Carrey), a closeted, church-going man who seems to be happily married to his wife Debbie (Leslie Mann.) In the wake of surviving a serious car accident, Russell not only has an awakening that allows him to embrace his homosexuality, but also gives him the courage to start living his life to the fullest extent possible. It’s a decision which involves breaking a few laws, dabbling in some con artistry, and eventually ending up in the State Penitentiary where he meets good natured Phillip Morris (McGregor.) Morris’ kind, easy-going nature immediately captures his heart, and Russell becomes dedicated to building a life together. His determination to free Morris from jail results in a series of cons and a life of lies that continues to prove one will do anything for love.
The film flits between goofy and dark, which at times makes it hard to categorize – you’re not sure whether you should laugh at the overt sexual humor, or if you should feel emotional watching a man give up so much – including his honesty – for a chance at obtaining true happiness. Nevertheless, both actors prove that no matter the scene, they are capable of bringing the film’s material to a level worthy of award-show stature. Carrey gives arguably his best performance in years since The Truman Show, and McGregor reminds us that outside of the Star Wars uniform, he can find the depth and soul in a character that truly cares for and loves his companion.
Audiences may leave the theatre confused about the overall message that I Love You Phillip Morris asks them to take away – indeed, for a film whose undertones focus largely on homosexuality; there are only a few sexual instances in the film. While Carrey and McGregor make these instances easy to see with the ease and chemistry in the way they connect on screen, at its core, the film is a wonderful representation of the true meaning of friendship in an age where we seem to take so much for granted.