Monday, 1 October 2012

I Love You Phillip Morris

Lowdown: Not a film about cigarettes.
I Love You Phillip Morris turned out to be a film with only one ace up its otherwise uninspiring sleeve. I came in expecting something along the lines of Thank You for Smoking, and found myself taken by total surprise by a film having nothing to do with cigarettes. If anything, I was reminded of Catch Me If You Can.
In what is alleged to be a true story, we follow Steven Russell (Jim Carrey). We start with him at hospital following a traffic accident as he is reconsidering his life thus far: given away for adoption as a baby left him scarred, and a career as a disloyally married policeman left him unsatisfied. Russell decides not to open a new page upon his release from hospital; instead he decides to start a brand new book.
He becomes openly gay, establishes a relationship with a hot guy, and sports a lavish lifestyle. How can he pull it off? By cheating, of course. Conning can only get Russell thus far, though, and quickly enough he finds himself in jail. He knows how to take care of himself there, but he also meets a guy who doesn’t – Phillip Morris (Ewan McGregor). The two fall in love, Russell takes it upon himself to take care of Morris, and upon his release goes back to being a conman in order to support the cause. Probably because it’s the only thing he knows, too.
The rest of the film is mostly made of the interactions between Russell and the law, including some incredibly enterprising methods of escaping jail. The question I found myself asking, though, was – is that enough to build a film on? And id that is the case, is this what the film should have been like? The answers I kept giving myself were "no".
For a start, I found I Love You Phillip Morris, with its short duration and all (just a bit more than an hour and a half) to be quite boring. Second, I could not avoid the Jim Carrey factor. Not necessarily because I grew to despise his anti vaccination efforts, but also because his acting stands out and not in a good way. I agree that some times his style works; I don’t think I Love You Phillip Morris represents such a case. In contrast, McGregor provides a perfect display that just shows how bad the Carrey affair is.
Want some positives? There is plenty of male to male kissing here, probably doubling the amount Hollywood generated thus far in all the films predating Phillip Morris.
Best scene: We learn how Russell escaped jail by dying of AIDS. I mean, wow! (Remember, this is based on true events)
Overall: The case of I Love You Phillip Morris collapsed on me through its Jim Carrey factor. 1.5 out of 5 stars.

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