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I Love You Phillip Morris Movie Review
Director - John Requa, Glenn Ficarra
Release Date: December 3, 2010
Running Time: 93 minutes
Editor's Rating: *** 1/2 out of 4 stars
Drawing on a larger-than-life true story, I Love You Phillip Morris is the tale of real-life con-man and multiple prison escapist Steven Jay Russell (Jim Carrey) and his single-minded devotion to the love of his life, Phillip Morris (Ewan McGregor).
Steven Russell is a man who does not fit in to his simple life with his wife and daughter. He's been searching for his birth mother, and when he finally meets her, she reveals that he simply didn't want him. After a traumatic event, he is forced to confront his homosexuality and embraces it wholeheartedly.
The movie then focuses on his life in Miami, where he and his boyfriend live a lavish lifestyle afforded by Steven's criminal activities. He's eventually caught and goes to prison, where he meets Phillip Morris, a young man who Steven falls in love with almost immediately. Steven dedicates himself to making Phillip happy, and then makes good on it the only way he knows how - dishonestly.
Steven's main driving force is his need to be loved, and it's something the movie addresses through his actions. Steven is so afraid he will continue to be abandoned like he was by his mother that he does whatever he can to keep the people in his life happy, no matter what.
The movie does tackle other heavy subject matter with a light heart - AIDS especially. The disease takes the life of Steven's only other full-time boyfriend before Phillip. It's hard to remember how deadly serious AIDS was back in the eighties and continues to be today when Steven uses the disease in a scheme to escape from prison, yet it doesn't really make light of the disease as it does those who diagnose it. The movie has a consistent and hilarious problem with authority, much like Steven - most people in power in the movie are one-sided stereotypes with no real dimension. For all we know this could be a very accurate depiction, but it seems like they exist as a springboard for Steven's antics.
Jim Carrey doesn't really have much in the way of physical comedy here, save a few montages and his eternally rubbery face. However, that doesn't dull the sharpness of his performance. His role is that of a con man with abandonment issues, and he pulls it off expertly. However, Ewan McGregor steals the show with his interpretation of southern-bell-with-an-edge Phillip Morris. He's funny and charming, while at the same time being the perfect damsel-in-distress to Carrey's white knight. Put together, the two create a truly endearing and adorable couple.
I Love You Phillip Morris is a witty and poignant examination of the power of love. It makes us do crazy things, no matter who we are or what society tells us. It does have some very strong language and sexual content, so the easily offended may want to steer clear from this one. However, Jim Carrey and Ewan McGregor deliver some amazing, hilarious, and very out-of-character performances, which alone makes this worth a watch. If you can get past its rough exterior, inside there's a truly funny and endearing movie for anyone who is looking for an antidote to the traditional romantic comedy.
*I viewed this movie first via rental, then via my own personal collection.*
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