Thursday, 18 March 2010
I Love You Phillip Morris - Review
Jim Carrey is one of those extraordinary actors, who has defied his initial pigeon holing over the years. From starting out, making memorable, slapstick films such as Ace Ventura: Pet Detective, The Mask and, quite possibly one of the greatest comedy movies of all time, Dumb and Dumber he then went on to prove he actually could act with wonderful, thought provoking features such as The Truman Show, Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind and the often over-looked Andy Kaufman bio-pic, Man on the Moon. Evolving from the former category, can I Love You Phillip Morris live up to past heights? Or be another Dick and Jane...
The story begins with Russell - Jim Carrey - on his deathbed recalling the events of his life that led him there. Beginning his life in Texas, Russell is a happily married police officer who plays the organ at church, prays every night with his wife - Leslie Mann - and spends his off hours searching for the biological mother who gave him up as a child. That, and he’s gay. After a life changing accident, Steven leaves his life and family behind to go out into the world and be his true, flamboyantly gay self. He moves to Miami, finds a boyfriend and begins living the high life.
He realizes quickly though, that a life of luxury is expensive, leading this resourceful former cop to turn to a life as a conman. But when his con work finally catches up with him, Steven is sent to prison where he meets, and almost instantly falls in love with Phillip Morris - Ewan McGregor. From there the story becomes a Don Quixote-esque story of a forlorn lover who cannot bear to be separated from his soul-mate. He will go to any lengths to be with Phillip, including but not limited to breaking out of jail on multiple occasions, impersonating Phillips lawyer and fraudulently becoming the CFO of a major corporation.
Firstly it was somewhat comforting that you could easily tell Jim Carrey and Ewan McGregor looked like they had a fantastic time making this film, it’s just a crying shame none of that enjoyment transferred over this poor soul reviewing it.
Not always but often I find it genuinely hard to enjoy a film when the story is not overly interesting or, more importantly, the main character is not the least bit likable. This was unfortunately the case for I Love You Phillip Morris. Watching Stephen’s refusal to sought redemption was excruciating, as if he had some sick addiction to compulsively lie to the people who loved him, even after realising how badly it hurt them, he still went and did it again. It regrettably conjured up the bad experiences I had of watching the 2009 feature, starring Matt Damon, The Informant! Or alternatively a far less glamorous take on the brilliant Catch Me If You Can.
Ewan McGregor on the other hand played his part beautifully, as the tender, loving title character Phillip. I found him to be an interesting disposition of untapped potential. In one particular scene he describes some of his past relationships to Steven and part of me wondered why the filmmakers failed to incorporate these moments into the film in some capacity.
Overall, the story suffered from too many loose ends never being truly fleshed out, such as Stephen’s ever loving and naive God-fearing wife – Leslie Mann once again being criminally under used - not having a problem with him suddenly deciding to up sticks and announce he was homosexual. This could have been a chance to inject a little bit of drama or conflict but alas it was not meant to be.
It just felt as though the movie was a series of random events broke up by Stephen’s numerous stints in prison. This was perfectly fine and dare I say quite humorous, the first time, and possibly even the second time, but by the time Stephen attempts to escape from prison the fifth or sixth time I thought it was past the stage of verging into the utterly obscene.
I am fully aware it was dubbed as a comedy, and apparently hailed as ‘the funniest film for 2010’ from other sections of the critiquing fraternity; if this is the case then I have lost a little bit of faith in the comedy genre. Yes I sniggered at one or two of the prison scenes but really Jim Carrey has produced far better than this.
It does not take much to make me laugh or cry, however I Love You Phillip Morris failed to genuinely do both. I concede it was smartly written in places and on a superficial level was even well-filmed but unless it’s a special effects extravaganza that is never enough. A flawed, incoherent and unbalanced feature, never knowing whether it wanted to be an insane satire on prison life or a new-age love story of two men who have found their soul mates in each other. I don’t hate you Phillip Morris, but I don’t love you either.
See This If You Liked...
The Informant! and Catch Me If You Can