Reviewed by

Christopher Armstead

Steven Russell, as played by Jim Carrey in a way that probably only Jim Carrey can play a character such as this, is one of them there homo-sexuals. As a child while the other children were looking at the clouds and seeing ice cream cones and elephants, Steven was having visions of large fluffy penises. I’m no psychologist but I’m thinking that this is a solid indicator that you just might be gay. Steven is in love with Phillip Morris, the title of this strange, kind of dark while sunny bright gay romantic comedy, one alleged to be based on a true story… ‘I Love You Phillip Morris’. But this love will have to wait because Steven has some things to deal with before he even meets Phillip Morris.

One of these things Steven has to deal with is the lie that he is living with his beautiful wife Debbie (Leslie Mann) and their children. Steven will soon experience a sudden moment of clarity and that particular lie will be resolved as Steven settles down to living his life as a gay man.

Unfortunately for Steven lying is simply a part of his genetic fabric to the point where we were thinking he should’ve just kept on lying about being straight. Steven, as it turns out, is a confidence man. I imagine we could theorize that he became a con man by having to lie for years about his sexual orientation but I prefer to believe that he was just born that way. Now there’s a lot leading up to this point, including a distraught lover, suicide attempts and breaks for freedom, but eventually Steven will wind up in the penitentiary and this is where he will meet the love of his life, Phillip Morris (Ewan McGregor).

Phillip is a sweet, soft and gentle boy, the kind of person that really doesn’t do all that well behind bars so when he met Slick Steve who is continuing his hustling ways behind bars, he was a godsend and love would flourish. There would be challenges on the way to love but eventually, with Steven using his particular gifts to make this happen, our lovers will be united together beyond these prison bars for happily ever after. If only.

Apparently conning people is pathological as Steven cons his way through life, including conning himself into a plum gig as CFO of some Texas corporation. Don’t these people run background checks? I know I get background checks run on me all the time, even if I haven’t applied for a job they want to run a background check on me. If Steven could’ve behaved while he had this job it would’ve been all good but such was not the case as Steven finds himself behind bars yet again. Phillip too for that matter. Phillip isn’t happy. Love is lost. But Steven soldiers on to does what he does best, that being lie cheat and steal, to reunite himself with his one true love. I don’t want to spoil it for you and if this indeed a true story, the state of Texas is none too happy with one Steven Russell.

I’m pondering exactly what to tell you about this movie ‘I Love you Phillip Morris’, directed the duo of Glenn Ficara and John Requa. I’m asking myself if I actually liked this movie and the answer I came up with is that I enjoyed the first half of this movie. It was really funny during the first half and Jim Carrey was straight killing me with his characterization of Steven Russell and his narration of his various self inflicted situations. But all of the fun that was ‘I Love You Phillip Morris’ pretty much drained away almost coinciding to the point that Phillip Morris actually shows up on the scene.

Now a movie that was largely a dark comedy takes a dramatic turn towards something else. Where Steven Russell was a funny and amusing character a few minutes ago, now that we’ve been introduced to Phillip Morris and his angelic sweetness, Steven Russell is now just a run of the mill asshole. Now instead of laughing with or at Steven Russell as the case may be, it appears that we are being asked to sympathize with this character or even root for him. But there’s nothing to root for or sympathize with here. After a while Steven Russell just started to grate on a nerve.

Of course it is possible that McGregor’s Phillip Morris was designed to be our emotional crutch to get through Steven’s nonsense but McGregor didn’t bring much to this role that hasn’t been done by a hundred thousand actresses before him as the hurt damsel whose man does him wrong while he stays at home making dinner. I don’t want take anything away from Mr. McGregor as he still had the challenge of making out with Jim Carrey, constantly, and making that look believable (which he does) in addition to pretending to suck dick. I imagine it was pretend but you know how those method actors are.

The unfortunate part about the whole thing is that real story of Steven Jay Russell is nothing short of amazing. This movie really didn’t capture very much that amazing story. From funny comedy down to mediocre romantic comedy until finally settling in on a sub par social drama, ‘I Love You Phillip Morris’ was ultimately a disappointment for me.

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