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"I love you Phillip Morris" is a 2009 Romantic-Comedy-Drama directed by Glenn Ficarra and John Requa and starring Jim Carrey, Ewan McGregor and Leslie Mann.
Steven Jay Russell ( Jim Carrey ) is on his deathbed and begins to recall the events of his life, we see him growing up and becoming a police officer in Virginia Beach , he plays the church organ and has regular sex with his wife Debbie ( Leslie Mann ), also spending his off hours searching for his biological mother, eventually finding her but being unsuccessful in a reunion.
Steven also is hiding a secret, he is actually a Gay-Man and a serious car crash urges him to leave his life behind and live his true self, taking on a boyfriend and moving to Miami, very soon though he realises he needs cash to keep up the lifestyle and eventually becomes a conman.
After being incarcerated for his crimes Steven meets Phillip Morris ( Ewan McGregor ) and immediately they fall in love with each other, however eventually they become seperated and Steven gets up to his old tricks again so they can be together.
I must admit I was quite surprised by "I love you Phillip Morris" especially as it wasn't released to much fanfare and pretty much flew under the radar, surprising really considering the star power of Carrey, however maybe the subject matter was hard for hollywood to take.
Regardless this movie ( based upon the true story of Steven Russell ) really impressed me, it has such a sweet tone and whether you're prejudiced against gay men or not, you can't deny that the love story between the two men is hard not to feel good about, Jim Carrey in particular gives an incredible performance and honestly I think this is one of his career best performances, and shows that he has excellent comic timing and acting skills, when he is able to break free of the big generic Hollywood comedies he sometimes gets attached to and is able to display them.
A fine cast of actors make up the players, and the overall telling of the story is well done and sweet, with some genuinely funny moments that make you realise why Carrey is one of the funniest men in Hollywood, it can be predictable in places and i'm sure the real Steven Russells story maybe wasn't quite as zany and manic, but besides those minor flaws we're left with a very well written, very well acted romantic comedy that should warm the hearts of even the most cynical.
I Love You Phillip Morris is a film about a man called Steven Jay Russell (played by Jim Carrey) who is on his deathbed after being in an horrific car accident. The film shares his life events. He spent his early adult years in Virginia Beach as a police officer. He participated in playing the organ at church. He is married to his wife, Debbie (played by Leslie Mann). He spends hours searching for his biological mother, who gave him up as a child, but when she is found she rejects him without any explanation. After the car crash, Steven leaves his family and lives his life as a gay man. He moves to Miami, finds a boyfriend called Jimmy (played by Rodrigo Santoro) and they live happily together. Steven becomes a con man but eventually gets caught and sent to prison, where he falls in love with inmate Phillip Morris (played by Ewan McGregor). After being released, he helps Phillip to be released from prison by posing as a lawyer. Later Steven is caught again and is returned back to prison with Phillip who angrily tells Steven that he never wants to see him again.
Yes, it is a film about gay love, which isn't a comfortable subject for everybody but the film is so moving, as well as a comical theme throughout, it really worth viewing It is portrayed around true events and even though it may be hard to believe that fact...It is true. The film is full of comedy, romance, sadness and fantastic performances showing a different side of Jim Carrey portraying another one of his great characters and Ewan McGregor who also puts on a stellar performance in this film. The bad part of the story is that at the beginning it lacks comedy but later as the story moves on it becomes really funny and turns into a great comedy. It also takes the edge off the rough edges of prison life, which is seen a lot in the film. If you are a Jim Carrey or a Ewan McGregor fan and want to see a different side to both actors then this is the film for you.
Star - Jim Carrey
Rated - R
Run Time - 102 minutes
Genre - Comedy
I think it's fair to say that Hollywood films about gay men and that particular lifestyle tend to bomb in multiplexes, not the sort of movie a group of lads are going to much their popcorn to on a Friday night or, indeed, enjoyed by a straight guy who wants to take in a movie on a wet Wednesday afternoon. Two girls making out in a movie is a different story, of course! I'm sure the acclaimed Oscar winner Brokeback Mountain (changed to 'Bareback Mountain' by satirists) was a lovely piece of cinema but the idea of two square-jawed cowboys falling in love as they steal a kiss under their Stetsons not only felt like some sort of gay fantasy up on screen for the gay half of Hollywood but just not a good idea if you want to make a movie and expect to get a lot more back, I believe the film in question only going into profit after six months of its brown paper bag rental release. Films about gay sex and relationships are just a tough watch for guys as they do challenge their masculinity. But don't get me wrong, I have enjoyed some gay themed movies in my time, My Beautiful Launderette and Milk, real winners - and I did give this one a chance by renting it, right? But you have to say they rarely work.
So, if a serious drama about gay cowboys didn't tempt an audience into the mainstream multiplexes then surely Jim Carey and Ewan McGregor could do the trick with a rather novel rom-com approach, here the true story of gay confidence trickster Steven Jay Russell and his love for Phillip Morris the delivery mechanism, an intriguing tale that was ripe for a movie, Catch Me If You Can meets The Birdcage, if you like. But when you resort to the cliché that represent gay men how straight people see them on screen and so not make a serious movie by 'dumbing' things down to the lowest common denominator then what's the point, the big problem with 'I Love You Philip Morris'.
Jim Carrey ... Steven Russell
Ewan McGregor ... Phillip Morris
Leslie Mann ... Debbie
Rodrigo Santoro ... Jimmy
Antoni Corone ... Lindholm
Brennan Brown ... Larry Birkheim
Michael Mandel ... Cleavon
Annie Golden ... Eudora
The story begins with Russell (Jim Carrey) on his deathbed, recalling the events of his life so far to you the viewer on an overhead camera, beginning with his early adult years in Virginia Beach, where we learn he was a happily married police officer and good all around citizen. He played the organ at church, had great sex with his wife (Leslie Mann) and spent his spare time searching for his biological mother, who gave him up as a child. But when he finds her and she rejects and then suffers a violent car crash he decides to no longer suffer the rejection and sets out to stop living a lie, leaving his family and previous life behind and going out into the world as his true self, a gay man, a secret he has kept from everyone. To be totally gay in American then you have to do it right is Russell's attitude, moving to Miami and buying a Pekinese, where he hooks up with Jimmy (Rodrigo Santoro). But being openly gay is a very expensive lifestyle, as any gay man will tell you, and the kitchen porter jobs aren't paying, the need for money to sustain his lifestyle causing him to turn to crime, soon in prison for credit card fraud, where he meets and immediately falls in love with the more effeminate Phillip Morris (Ewan McGregor).
From then on in the story centers on Russell's unrelenting love for his soul-mate, Morris happy for the attention and that lifestyle. Russell will go to any lengths to be with Phillip, whether he or Phillip are in different jails, even practicing as a lawyer to try and spring Phillip. But when Russell gets a really good job with a big corporation he can't resist raising the stakes of his confidence trickery and soon having to come up with the con of a lifetime to escape yet another lengthy prison sentence, driving his lover to distraction with his constant subterfuge.
To be hionest it's hard to tell who the film is designed for, since it may well be too juvenile for gay audiences and too gay for Carrey's straight fans. I like Jim Carrey but he is one of those comic actors who can be hit or miss, getting very irritating very quickly when he has been on the laughing gas, especially when he starts jumping around and pulling those faces. Here, rather refreshingly, he is more in the Cable Guy mood, deploying his darker side and the full repertoire of schizophrenic comedy acting skills he seems to posses. But you just feel it's not the right film to do that in and somehow it just doesn't click into place here. Do you really want to take on so many taboos at once and forget to make the punters laugh? It's just impossible to sympathies with any of the characters in this as they don't really want you to on screen. There's no way in the world there was ever going to be sexual chemistry between Carrey and any male actor, let alone our Ewan, and as that's the crux of the film then you are soon lose interest. It's a shame because it worked quite well in The Birdcage remake with Robin Williams and Gene Hackman. The only real plus here is there is none of that hyper active disorder and it's the audience, not Carrey, that starts contorting their faces at this flat and disappointing unfolds and then misfire like a wet fart.
According to the Manhattan chart on the Imdb.com ratings drop-down box the demographic that seemed to most like this film were the younger females, every woman having a secret want of a gay friend at some point in their life, and so this immediately appealing for a girl's night in with a DVD, or indeed night out at the cinema. There are too many gay clichés here to take this seriously, box ticked one-by-one....jokes we have laughed at many times before so the whole thing somewhat predictable. Although most gay men are anything but camp and very private people, that doesn't seem possible to depict in Hollywood movies. There were other problems to; its occasionally risky sex scenes meaning it struggled to get a U.S. distributor, the film re-edited just to earn it some sort of cinema release over the pond.
From its original $13 million budget it has managed just $20 million back to date, suffering that uncomfortable Brokeback apathy. But I don't think it was the gay themes that killed this but simply it's neither funny nor charismatic. I had the same feelings towards Catch Me If You Can and it's very rare that an American comedic biopic actually works and so something they are not very good at. I'm sure this will appeal to gay men as they too giggle at the clichés but for me I just didn't get the point of it and left cold by the whole thing.
Imdb.com - 6.7/10 (29,786 votes)
Rottentomatos.com - 74% approval rating (Users 57% approval rating)
Metacritic.com - 65% approval rating (64% Users approval rating)
The Melbourne Age - "Carrey reminds us here... that he can be a genuinely passionate actor able to skillfully combine comedy with pathos when he is removed from the Hollywood machine, which strives to turn him into a cartoon."
The Guardian - " A minstrel show of gay stereotypes".
The Boston Globe - "Carrey veers more toward In Living Color mimicry than Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind soulfulness. That approach completely undermines a love story that's already being told in a slipshod manner".
The NY Times - "It's satire, but not quite funny enough; a love story, but not quite sincere enough".
= = = Special Features = = =
*The Making of I Love Phillip Morris*
*Cast & Crew*
= = = = = = = = =
***FILM ONLY REVIEW***
I Love You Phillip Morris is a film I was keen to see for one main reason - it stars Ewan McGregor. Released in 2010, it is based on the true story of Steven Russell (Jim Carrey), a conman who falls in love with the titular Phillip Morris (McGregor) while in jail. Once they're out, Steven does his best to go straight so he can provide for Phillip - but can he go against his nature?
The premise of the film sounds enjoyable and amusing, with plenty of opportunities for humour and silliness. The story is not overly exciting, bar a few slightly comedic car chases, but it is enjoyable and makes for a decent film. It's worth noting however that there is a reasonable amount of swearing, sexual references and some very unsubtle sex (gay and heterosexual).
McGregor's character of Phillip is a sweet guy, blond haired and blue eyed, and comes across as cute and young, maybe even sheltered - although his accounts of what he has got up to in the past show he is not sheltered at all. With his southern accent and his cuteness, you just want to cuddle him and look after him. Thankfully, McGregor's American accent is more convincing in I Love You Phillip Morris than it was in The Men Who Stare At Goats (I was a bit upset at having to criticise him). The film does not however particularly tax McGregor's acting talents, unless he found it hard to play a gay man - but given that he does it very well, I doubt that.
Sadly, however, that is where the good points of the film end for me. This may be a short review, as I can sum up very quickly what was wrong: Jim Carrey. I've never been particularly keen on him as an actor, but I thought maybe this gentle comedy would suit him. Unfortunately not. He really was the star of the film, with a great deal more screen time than McGregor, and I just found myself wondering through most of the film why someone as good-looking and nice as Phillip would fall in love with Steven? Steven as portrayed in the film is a slimy-looking, unhealthy-looking trickster who is constantly lying his way through his latest scheme. It took me a while to believe he was actually in love with Phillip - I thought it was another of his plans.
I didn't enjoy watching Carrey almost exclusively for 1 hr 40 minutes. Perhaps I should have thought of that, but the film sounded good. I felt that he overplayed an awful lot, whether he was overplaying the "straight" married Steven at the start, or overplaying the openly gay man he becomes. There is the occasional touching moment, which he does reasonably well - touching, that is, until you discover that it's fake and yet another scheme. The character isn't terribly endearing given that he's always taking people for a ride, but in the hands of another actor the character of Steven could have come across as a real charmer, the bad guy you love to hate.
The most touching moment of the film for me was brought about by McGregor. His portrayal of Phillip is gentle, but more powerful and moving than you realise at first: despite everything that Steven has put him through, it is clear Phillip still loves him during a sequence near the end which was close to heartbreaking. How it turns out I won't say, but for a short while McGregor captures your heart.
I watched the whole of I Love You Phillip Morris, but at the end I felt really disappointed by it. It could have been a very enjoyable film if it wasn't for Jim Carrey having all the screen time. I think the best way to sum up I Love You Phillip Morris is to say that it is a wasted opportunity.
A review of the film and region 2 DVD presentation.
Steven Russell is an ordinary, god-fearing, happily married man. Raised by adoptive parents, Steven has made it his life's mission to be a good man in every way that he possibly can. But when Steven is involved in a car accident, his brush with mortality injects a new lease of life and he decides that he can no longer live a lie. From now on, he will live his life the way that he wants to live it. You see, Steven has been harbouring a secret. He's gay.
Leaving his wife and children, Steven moves to Miami where he hooks up with a new boyfriend and starts living the high life. But the high life costs money, and when Steven's run-of-the-mill job can't support his extravagant ways, he realises that he must turn to other means and quickly becomes an expert conman. Credit card fraud, bogus insurance claims and countless other scams ensure that Steven is able to fund his new lifestyle, but it's only a matter of time before the law catches up with him and, inevitably, he finds himself in prison. Despondent and lonely, Steven struggles to believe that his life has come to this and then one day, he meets Phillip Morris - and everything changes.
There's something about films that take place inside prisons. For some reason, despite the fact that prisons harbour criminals, it seems that where the penal system is concerned, film audiences like to hold onto wild notions of injustice, abandonment and love against all odds. I Love You Phillip Morris is based on the successful novel by Steve McVicker, which tells the story of an infamous American conman who effectively wound the US prison system up in knots for years. To this day, Steven Russell remains behind bars, given an unprecedented life sentence effectively for embarrassing the prison authorities, and this film tells the story of how that happened.
It's an unusual and unconventional little tale that combines slapstick comedy, emotional drama and tragedy in a slightly uncomfortable mixture that is likely to leave the average audience member slightly bemused. It's a while since I've seen a film that evoked such an extreme range of emotions and it'll take some time to conclude whether this is something that can be approved of. Opening with Russell in hospital for reasons unknown, the narrative skitters about a little, depicting events throughout Steven's life with a little first person narration before moving into more conventional narrative. It's surprisingly engaging stuff, largely because there's an overwhelming sense of the unexpected. It soon becomes clear that the writers have a strong and curiously purposeful sense of anything goes - and in Phillip Morris, it certainly does.
In an interview within the special features, the writers go to some lengths to explain that this is not a 'gay' movie. Quite how that is defined, is unclear, but it's true that 'gay/lesbian interest' now exists as a genre in its own right in many quarters, a rather puzzling scenario by any account and in many ways rather attention-seeking. In Phillip Morris, our two leads just happen to be gay, but the writers' theory is that they could just as easily have been straight. This isn't a story about sexuality; it's a story about love and trust. There's a lot of truth in it, but that doesn't mean that this isn't an attention-seeking film. You can't cast Jim Carrey in a film and not expect anything less and so it will come as no surprise to find that Steven Russell is at times uber-flamboyant, screamingly camp and stereotypically gay. But that doesn't mean you probably won't like him, even just a little.
It's generally very sensitively done. The relationship between Russell and Morris is often very touching. Given the film's comedy roots, it's quite amazing just how engaging the film manages to be. Directors Ficarra and Requa have worked hard here to create something sensitive and romantic that just happens to feature two men, but it's also a curious set of extremes. On the one hand there's an incredibly romantic scene featuring the two men dancing together in the prison to the strains of a classic love song, with some astoundingly genuine chemistry between the two leads. At the other end of the spectrum, there's a horrifically crude sex scene near the start of the film where Russell is engaging in bareback sex that virtually guarantees grandma will be spluttering her tea everywhere. But whatever your view of these isolated moments of crude humour, it's quite an achievement to see how the directors have managed to turn a story like this into a mainstream movie.
The romance between Morris and Russell is really only half the story here and the narrative jogs along perfectly thanks to the balance of the love story and the tales of Russell's con work running along side. It's often hard to believe that any of this is based in truth, given that what Russell achieves is frequently quite astounding. Some of his tricks and cons are quite clever, but often it's just sheer front that manages to pull rabbits out of hats and goes to prove that confidence is often the biggest con of all. The incompetence of appropriate authorities doesn't really come as a huge surprise here (most notably in what is essentially Russell's biggest con of all towards the end of the film) but the writers seem to want to depict Russell as the good guy here. The fact he keeps getting caught is almost immaterial, but his crimes aren't depicted as being victimless. Ficarra & Requa focus on the damage caused to those around Russell, predominantly of course to Morris, but also quite substantially to his wife. The writers clearly accept that this kind of fraud is certainly not a victimless crime.
Most importantly of all, they turn this around on the audience too. It's impossible to discuss in any real detail without spoiling the film here, but as the narrative progresses down a rather more disturbing route, the tone shifts into something rather more sombre - before you realise you've been conned. Such is the switch in emotions that you can't help feeling upset. You feel as though somebody has been toying with your emotions - and then you realise that's the whole point. It's that emotional jolt that sets Phillip Morris aside from other 'conman' movies. There are very few films of this nature that so successfully manage to force the audience to empathise with the characters. It's actually very clever.
Jim Carrey is often a rather overwhelming actor. You probably either find him funny or completely irritating but as he has grown older, he has started to find roles that require more than just his slapstick comedy skills. In Steven Russell, Carrey probably excels at the slapstick but at the expense of some of the more sensitive moments. He's at his best when he's pulling faces and larking around, no more so than in a memorable court scene, trying to blag his way through as a lawyer. But at other times, he struggles with the material here. Carrey's trouble is that he's just *too* confident. When he spots Phillip Morris in the library, he doesn't look intoxicated and overcome with attraction he just looks sinister and predatory. Arguably, that 'I want it and I'm going to have it' arrogance could rightly be associated with a conman, but here it feels as though Carrey is still playing the fool.
Ewan McGregor, on the other hand, is a revelation. McGregor spent some time with the real Philip Morris, so it feels as though his portrayal is based at least partly in reality, but he's effortlessly convincing in the part either way. McGregor stated that he didn't want to play Morris as a stereotypical gay man, which comes across quite strongly here. The curious way that he depicts Morris rather like a shy girl is surprisingly endearing and he seems to convey the gentle, rather innocent nature of the man very well. It has to be said that both actors seem very comfortable with the physical aspects of their roles and the directors don't shy away from kissing and embracing. For the actors, the fairly momentous moment of their first kiss is depicted rather romantically here against a setting sun.
Supporting cast members are very likeable too. Leslie Mann is surprisingly patient as Russell's god-fearing ex-wife Debbie. It's interesting to note how she maintains a friendship with her ex-husband (although the script seems to assume that she wasn't even upset that he turned out to be gay and we never even see what happened to the children). Rodrigo Santoro has a fairly short-lived but likeable role as Russell's first boyfriend (and looks pretty good with his short off by any account).
The transfer to DVD is impressive. This is a film full of vibrant colour and imagery (far more so than you'd expect in fact) and this comes across beautifully at regular intervals. A scene set in a flower-filled meadow, for example, is stunning, full of rich yellow petals and baked in warm, orange sunlight. The picture is incredibly clean and overflowing with sumptuous details. The mood of the film is captured perfectly in the visuals and this just seems to get stronger and stronger as the narrative progresses.
The soundtrack makes ample usage of the surround sound too, exposing an impressive range of effects. When it wants to be loud and raucous, it's quite deafening (a car stereo, that car crash, a nightclub) and then has ample room for detail and subtlety (that meadow, noises in the background). It's not overdone (and arguably could have been used a little more) but it's entirely appropriate to the film.
The special features are a little disappointing. There's a short (12 minute) behind-the-scenes feature, which is limited on insight and actually a bit of an anticlimax after the film itself. Worse still, this is followed by interviews with Carrey and the writers for a few minutes each, but most of the material has already been used in the first feature, so it seems like a complete waste of space. Speaking of which, you also get the UK trailer for the film. Yip.
It's a breath of fresh air to see a relatively mainstream movie centring on gay characters and whilst the early flamboyancy is unlikely to sway certain opinion, there's a very strong feeling of genuine love and affection here that resonates long after the final credits have rolled. That narrative con is quite inspired (and probably missed by those seeing this in an entirely superficial way) and the writers make their point quite starkly here. The DVD special features are pretty disappointing here though so probably not one to rush out and buy at full price.
It is very rare that a movie trailer leads to a laugh out loud moment in the cinema, but upon seeing the promo for I Love You, Phillip Morris in the local picture house I found myself giggling but for one reason or another I did not manage to catch this when released on the big screen. Thus setting down last night to watch this I had high hopes after a long wait and it certainly did not disappoint!
The film is based on the true story and revolves around con man Steven Russell, played by the ever versatile Jim Carey, and his journey throughout his life. The movie picks up into Russells 30's and tracks a period that involves insurance fraud, jail, romance, death and conning an insurance company out of millions. It is superbly paced and moves along well with a solid script and excellent dialogue that keeps the viewer intrigued.
Carey is excellent in the lead role as the cocky, cunning Russell and it adds another bow to his increasingly diverse repertoire proving again that he is one of the finest and most underrated actors of his generation. The script provides him with the opportunity to display glimpses of the exuberance that made him famous but it is in the more subtle, romantic moments that he shines. Although Carey's performance is a joy to behold it is love interest Ewan Mcregor who steals the show playing the titles role of Phillip Morris. A quiet, unassuming, nice natured male which Mcregor nails on the head and ends up giving one of the most convincing performances of his career. With a leading set of performances this strong and with such a great chemistry at the heart of the film it is bound to be a success.
I Love You, Phillip Morris is in fact hard to categorize being part comedy, part romance, part drama and part a true life story. There is no doubt that the actual true like story is darkly comedic and the film reflects that perfectly with plenty of subtle jokes, one liners and comedic moments. The romance is imbedded in this and the love story aspects are central to the movie. Essentially though it works on all fronts and will cater for all audiences of ages above the certificate. It entertains by making you laugh, cry, sympathize and think. It cleverly ticks you as a viewer too but Ill leave that as a surprise.
All in all you will find it hard not to love this film. It works on all fronts and is an undoubted success, a great achievement for all involved and something well worth seeing and adding to your DVD collection!
Also on CIAO
I can't remember seeing this film advertised or even adding it to my online DVD rental basket but I must have at some point because it came through yesterday for me to watch! It stars Jim Carrey so I immediately thought it would be a comedy, therefore I watched it today thinking I would be in for some light hearted giggles! It is worth noting that the film is based on the real life story of Steven Russell. This is a film only review.
Steven Russell lives a very normal lifestyle, he is happily married to a beautiful woman named Debbie and together they have a young daughter. He works as a police officer and believes that his life is pretty good. That is until he has a car accident which causes him to reassess his life.
Steven realises he is gay and we see him living his life to the full. He has now given up his job as a police officer and he now works as a conman, therefore living the life of luxury with other peoples money! As with most crimes, Steven eventually gets caught and ends up in jail.
It is here that he meets Phillip, a soft and gentle man who is keen to strike up a friendship with Steven. Steven takes Phillip under his wing and before you know it the pair are embarking upon a love affair. This affair isn't just sex, the pair are in love and that is clear for anyone to see. However, the couples bliss is soon shattered when Steven is transferred to another prison - will he ever see Phillip again?
As I said in my opening paragraph, I initially believed this film would be a comedy simply because it starred Jim Carrey. Now don't get me wrong there were many humorous moments in the film and I did find myself laughing on a few occasions but there was so much more to it than that, this film was deep and meaningful and I really enjoyed it.
The film begins by being fast paced and action packed, it basically gives us a snapshot of Stevens life which really helps the watcher get to know him and understand him. When he ends up in prison and initially meets Phillip it really slows down, allowing us to follow the pairs lives and understand their thoughts and feelings fully. At the outset of this slow down of pace I did think it was going to drag a bit and get a bit boring. However, I soon realised that the film worked perfectly at this pace as it allowed me as a viewer to appreciate what was going on between the two men.
Even though Steven was a con man, I couldn't help but love him. I'm not one of Jim Carrey's greatest fans but he made the character so loveable and understandable that I think the majority of people would like Steven. He was fun and interesting which worked perfectly in the film. This also allowed us to compare Steven's character throughout the film, seeing what changes and what stays the same.
I also really enjoyed meeting Phillip in the film. He seemed as though he was in the wrong place and he was extremely loveable. He was gentle and kind and I as a viewer was really happy to see the pair embark upon a relationship.
The plot flowed really well and although I did originally think it was going to dip after the first half an hour it didn't and instead the film got so much more intense and I found myself hooked to the film, desperate to see what would happen next. The ending was portrayed very well. It was not at all predictable to someone like myself who hadn't heard Steven's story and everything was wrapped up completely, leaving no questions unanswered.
As you can probably tell, this film really touched me. I really enjoyed watching it and will be recommending it to all of my friends and family.
The film was released in 2009.
The DVD was released in March 2010.
It was directed by John Requa and Glenn Ficarra.
The film stars Jim Carrey and Ewan McGregor.
It runs for 100 minutes.
It is rated a 15 in the UK.
IMDB give it a rating of 6.8/10 (10,933 votes).
A very touching story which is bound to touch everyones heart, one of the best films I have seen this year. Recommended.
I Love You Phillip Morris - 2009
Policeman, Lawyer, Chief Financial Officer and Conman: Steven Russell is all of these things and none of them; married to a woman he loves with a daughter they adore Steven lives an everyday existence taking care of his family. All that changes though one night when Steven is involved in a car accident in which he experiences an epiphany - he has been living a secret double life as a gay man and no longer wants to live a lie. Coming out to his family Steven moves out of the marital home and relocates in another part of the country where he starts a relationship with another man, living the high life and having very expensive tastes he begins to fake accidents and Insurance scams to fund his lifestyle and all is going well until he is caught, prosecuted and sent to prison.
It's whilst incarcerated that Steven meets Phillip Morris, a charismatic and softly spoken man who has been badly hurt in past relationships. The pair hit it off almost immediately and begins a relationship in jail that they continue once they are released, however old habits die hard for Steven and determined to provide everything he can for the love of his life he soon reverts back to his old scamming ways. The path of true love never runs smooth especially when one half of the relationship continues to break the law and winds up getting caught again and despite their love for one another this is one couple that seem destined to be apart. However Steven is far more intelligent and resourceful than people give him credit for as he is soon to demonstrate...
The casting of Jim Carey and Ewan McGregor in this film may surprise some and had these two names not have agreed to take part then the film would have probably been overlooked by the mainstream and would have struggled to have been made let alone distributed. As it is these are two well known, straight Hollywood leading-men who just so happen to play the roles of gay men in the film and despite it being 2010 this has been the cause of controversy. Yawn. Both Carey and McGregor are two of my favourite actors and I had heard and read about the film before its release, intrigued by the storyline and not at all offended by the thoughts of two men kissing I decided to add it to my Lovefilm list who very kindly sent me the Blu-Ray version of the film.
I Love You Phillip Morris can best be described as a love story but it is much more than that. Based on the true story of the real life Steven Russell we learn as the film begins that all of what we are about to see actually happened, whether the film makers have taken some artistic liberties will be left to the viewers own discretion of course and there are points in the film where you really cannot believe that the events portrayed really did take place. This is where the film becomes more than just a love story, and truth be known it could have quite easily been played out as a 'Buddy Movie' had the film makers not taken the bold decision to base the film on actual events - the fact that the two lead characters just so happen to be men who just so happen to be gay is irrelevant, the fact of the matter is that Russell is so besotted with Morris that he will do anything for him and wants to protect and provide for him without ever involving him in his schemes or plans. It's this level of commitment and love that Russell has for Morris that makes the connection between them so special and believable and the small matter of being behind bars isn't enough to stop him from coming up with elaborate plans and plots to escape his confines and attempt a reconciliation. I'm sure a lot of us have been in relationships where we would do literally anything for our loved ones and the film demonstrates the lengths one man will go to for the love of his life.
Jim Carey plays against the usual wacky outrageous caricatures that he became famous for and delivers a determined and focused role as Steven Russell. There are humorous parts of the film which will raise a smile rather than out and out laughs and Carey underplays his part rather than throwing everything he can into it. He gives a grounded performance in this and looks and feels comfortable in what is asked of him and makes for one half of a believable couple alongside Ewan McGregor. McGregor himself is almost unrecognisable as Phillip Morris; quietly spoken and slightly introverted he portrays a truly gentle man from Americas Deep South complete with a familiar southern drawl to his voice. His accent is the only thing that I could find fault with as during the film it does tend to drop in and out and whilst this wasn't off-putting it was noticeable and the only indicator that he was actually 'acting'. Together they make for an intriguing couple though with Carey playing the more dominant role in the pairing, McGregor's character is the quieter of the two and is happy to be looked after and cared for and if nothing else they looked as though they belonged together.
The film manages to lull you into a false sense of security and throughout the first three quarters of the film you are entertained by the lengths that Russell has to go through to be reunited with his man, however a very surprising turn takes the film in a different direction and towards the end is a remarkable sequence where you can't help but be moved by what happens. This surprised me I have to say and is what made this film for me; I won't reveal what does take place here but be aware that it is a very poignant and touching and gives the film a certain degree of heart and warmth.
By the nature of what the film is there are always going to be 'Brokeback Mountain' comparisons made which is unfair really as the only similarities between them is the fact that the love story is about 2 men. It just goes to show though how unusual it is even now for a film to focus on a same-sex relationship and despite us living in a more enlightened age (apparently) films like this are few and far between. I am aware that the homosexual element will put people off from watching this film which is a real shame as you are denying yourself the opportunity to watch a truly remarkable love story and if nothing else I hope this review may go a small distance towards opening your mind to maybe giving this film a go.
The film carries a UK 15 certificate rating probably for the bad language that is featured throughout the running time rather than any scenes of a sexually explicit nature. Yes Carey and McGregor kiss and there are fleeting moments of sexual activity but nothing is shown that hasn't been seen before in other films; however the film doesn't shy away from the fact that it is a gay couple we are watching and as such there are scenes that will no doubt offend those against this type of relationship. For me I'm open minded enough to accept the film for what it is and enjoyed the story which took some unexpected twists and turns.
If I had any niggles about the film then the only thing I could find fault with is the representation of a gay couple in prison. Rife with homophobia, prisons are not generally the most gay-friendly of places if their reputation is to be believed yet Steven and Phillip seem to lead an idyllic, quiet existence during their incarceration together. I realise that perhaps the film makers didn't want to make hard-hitting bleak tale of discrimination that focused on the negative aspects of a gay relationship but it would have maybe been a bit more realistic to at least mention the struggles you would expect them to face. I don't think this is necessarily a bad thing, maybe the intention was to represent a gay couple who didn't face hostility and therefore be seen as 'normal' which of course they are, maybe this is can be seen as a positive move forward, that, I suppose is up to your own interpretation and in some ways it did make a change for any messages contained in the narrative to be positive ones.
Overall then, I Love You Phillip Morris is a surprising true-life tale which I enjoyed, the films running time of 100 minutes tripped along nicely with no slow or sluggish moments. Both lead actors are superb in their roles and Director Glenn Ficarra has put together a comedy drama which dares to be different. It isn't perfect but then films rarely are but from me I would have no hesitation in awarding 4/5 dooyoo stars along with a recommendation to at least give this film a try. My Bluray copy came courtesy of Lovefilm and as such there were no extras included on the rental disc that I can mention and to buy this film outright Amazon are charging £11.49 on DVD and £14.99 on Blu-Ray with a retail release date announced for the 2nd of August 2010.
Thanks for reading my review, please note that this may also appear on ciao under my username.
It would appear that Jim Carrey was saving it all up for this performance. Over the years, his films have largely required the slapstick that he is so famous for. Occasionally though, Carrey plays it straighter, and it is a welcome diversion. Here, he manages to blend it all together for a film that is often hilarious, touching and hilarious all over again.
Ludicrously claiming that it is based on a true story, Carrey stars as Stephen Russell who recounts his story from his deathbed. Beginning with the revelation that he is adopted, we are led to believe that Russell is an all round good guy. He attends church, works on the police force, and is an attentive husband and father. However, when he quits his job, he and his wife move to Texas and that is where the trouble begins.
After a car accident, Stephen decides to out himself as a gay man and start living his life for himself. However, the gay life is apparently an expensive one, and he turns to crime to pay for it. Soon, he finds himself on the wrong side of the law and huckled off to prison. There he meets Phillip Morris, who is in prison for a misdemeanour. The two fall in love, and carry on their romance into the real world when both are released. Still, it cant be long before Stephen gets himself back into trouble.
I simply cannot believe this is a true story. It is wildly far fetched, not to mention completely contrived. However, as a fantastical gay rom-com, it absolutely hits the spot. Kudos to Ewan McGregor who manages to play a camp figure so on the money that we can forgive him for his (yet again) abysmal accent. You would think he would take some lessons for that. He has all the characteristics of the cliched gay man, and yet brings something to his role that makes his instantly lovable.
Carrey is an absolute hoot. Whilst I didn't buy into most of his antics, I was pleased that he played down the more chaotic elements of his persona, and brought something real to the part that made me like him. The final act is a let down though. When he is conning a company daft enough to believe his references, its just mildly unbelievable, but the final con is so far out there that I just cringed.
The other unbelievable element of this supposed true story is the prison scene's. Are we really supposed to believe that two men can sit around in each other's arms watching an old weepie in the prison recreation room. Us gay men cant even get away with that in the dark when we go to a real cinema. It was all too unbelievable in that respect. However, the commentary delivered by the lead character is fun to follow, and the situations he finds himself in more than make up for any disbelief in the actual story itself.
Director John Requa has a real film funny bone, already delivering the goods with Billy Bob Thornton in Bad Santa. Here, he delivers the goods again, with his leads ultimately playing it to the hilt. Apparently Jim Carrey took a small pay in order for this film to get made, and thats admirable in a town where actor's are clearly overpaid for every project that they work on.
Having read a short bio on Stephen Russell, its very apparent that the facts are rally glossed over to make him more of a victim of circumstance. Carrey's Stephen is a slightly effeminate lovable loser who manages to con his way through situations. I doubt the real Stephen Russell is quite as lovable, and I also doubt his latter crimes were as selfless as this film would have you believe. All in the name of love? I dont think so.
The DVD for this film will be released on 2 August 2010 and is available on amazon for pre-order now. It is priced at £11.49 (with an option of free delivery). Its an enjoyable romp, with some sexual scene's that may offend more milder viewers.
I love Jim Carey, so when I heard that he was in this film, I knew I would have to see it, I had no idea what it was about, and all I can say was that I was in for a bit of a shock.
** The Plot **
The film is about a man, Steven Russell, who is happily married to his wife, whom he has a daughter with, however Steven has a few issues in his life, he found out when he was younger that he was adopted and in a bid to be the perfect son he ensures that he does all the right things, he goes to church, is a police offer and is the perfect husband. Except for the fact that Steven is gay and he sleeps with men behind his wifes back. After being involved in a car crash Steven realises that lifes to short and admits to his wife that he is gay, and reinvents himself, however he soon learns that his new lifestyle costs a lot of money and starts getting into trouble with the law in order to pay for the luxuries he wants. It is then that he meets Phillip Morris, the love of his life, they plan a whole new life together when they are released doing everything by the book. However Steven finds it hard to stay on the right path, what will happen to the happy couple?
** The Cast **
Jim Carey as Steven Russell
Ewan McGregor as Phillip Morris
Rodrigo Santoro as Jimmy Kemple
Leslie Mann as Wife Debbie
For a full list of cast you can visit www.imdb.com.
** My Opinion **
Well... I don't really know where to start, the film is pure genius, I have never seen a film like it. Although its funny its not obvious, its funny because its natural, if that makes sense, you will know what I mean if you have seen the film.
I did not expect this kind of story from a Jim Carey film, Obviously as mentioned in the plot he plays a gay man, and it really works for him, however the character is very stereotypical.
This film gave me a mixture of emotions, even sadness at times, which is completely unnecessary as you will find out watching the film.
I really liked the way that everything was totally unexpected, even when you think you know whats happening, especially towards the end, it completely shocks you and is almost confusing, but in a good way.
I found it to be quite a tragic and complicated love story, and to be honest I think its good that a film like this has been brought out as the fact that it is based on a homosexual relationship is controversial yet completely normal, and I think its good that this film highlights that.
I do however think there is a little bit too much sex in this film, not because they are homosexual I would feel this way anyways, I found it a little uncomfortable to watch, as if I were intruding on something extremely private and personal.
I like the whole concept of Steven trying to find himself, not really knowing what he should do, or who he is as a person, as it all goes back to the day he was told he was adopted, from then he lost his identity.
Overall this is a very intriguing and different film to watch, some may find it uncomfortable to watch but once you get over the initial shock you soon start to appreciate the story and tremendous acting from all.
Steven Russell is happy with his life. He loves his wife Debbie and their daughter, and enjoys his job on the local police force. But when he is involved in a car accident, Steven realises that he hasn't been living his life the way he should have been and decides to come clean about being gay.
But being gay comes at a price, and Steven's expensive tastes means that he needs lots of money. Becoming a conman is easy for him and even though it means he's breaking the law, he isn't hurting anyone except himself. But the law eventually catches up with him and Steven finds himself locked up in the State Penitentiary, where he meets the very friendly and naïve Phillip Morris and the two instantly fall in love.
Being in love means that Steven now has even more of a reason to live life to the fullest and his conman ways begin to spiral out of control.
~ Cast ~
Steven Russell - Jim Carrey
Phillip Morris - Ewan McGregor
Debbie - Leslie Mann
Jimmy Kemple - Rodrigo Santoro
Larry Bukheim - Brennan Brown
Lindholm - Antoni Corone
I love any sort of comedy film like this Jim Carrey is always good for a laugh so this was definitely something that I wanted to see. The film is actually based on a true story and even though that is very hard to believe what with the amount of times Steven manages to con someone, and the number of times he escapes from prison, this just makes the film all the more shockingly funny.
I have to say that I think this was one of Jim Carrey's best performances. He's always the funny man, playing stupid characters and over-emphasising everything he does, and although there were ample moments where he still did this, he also played a very emotional and serious role. This wasn't just a silly film about a very camp gay couple with a very adventurous life, the film is actually a very emotional one and Carrey played both sides of his personality brilliantly. He is the perfect person to play a camp man as he is very expressive and over-the-top in his acting which made it look very easy for him to act the part of Steven. It was also very obvious that he loved Phillip Morris very much and this is when his sensitive and caring personality came out and it was plain to see that Phillip was the love of his life.
Ewan McGregor was also brilliant and I really don't think that there are two better actors to play both of these roles. McGregor played the more feminine role in the couple and he was completely believable as a gay man. His soft looks, petite body and all his feminine mannerisms were excellent and, even though Carrey had the more expressive and sillier role, McGregor also had a very funny role with his hugely camp personality.
The relationship between the two really was lovely and I felt that it was like any other relationship in a film whether straight or not. I found myself laughing when they laughed together, smiling when they were happy and in love and crying when they fought. They did have a few proper kissing scenes and nothing about it looked awkward or fake seeing as it was two straight men kissing on screen.
I will warn you that there were a lot of gay moments in the film including quite a few sexual scenes. Even though I was completely fine with watching this I found that the majority of the other people in the cinema with me weren't particularly keen on seeing two men having mad and passionate sex. It seemed like most people were either cringing and turning away from the screen or laughing with embarrassment. If you have no qualms about homosexuality then this is a great film, but if you do, then I really wouldn't recommend it.
Although there were a lot of hilarious moments, it wasn't just a silly film where two straight actors play gay men and the very emotional and heart-breaking ending came as a huge shock but it made the film so good. I didn't think this was going to be as good as it actually was and I really did think that it was an excellent film.
Certificate rating: 15
Running time: 97 minutes
Directors: Glenn Ficarra and John Requa
I Love You Phillip Morris is a film about Steven Jay Russell (Jim Carrey) who plays a con artist and imposter. The film is reputedly based on true events - but that is very hard to believe.
It just goes to show when Jim Carrey is given the right material he can be incredibly funny. It's such a shame then that the laughs are so far apart in this film. I remember laughing like crazy to films like Dumb and Dumber and Ace Ventura (maybe I might not nowadays - I will have to rewatch them to find out!), but Carrey lost his way a little when he decided to go straight. He lost some of his comedy zest and this return to the comedy fold (along with last year's Yes Man) seems like the right direction to go in. His tall lanky body is so funny and he manages to use his entire frame to go crazy in this film. He makes a strangely convincing homosexual, even if it is a little over the top!
I was quite taken aback at how sullen Ewan McGregor was in this role. He obviously gave up trying to play up against Carrey who basically tears up the set with his overacting. McGregor can't help but just sit back and watch his steal scene after scene, but his Phillip Morris is what the film was about - so he needed to stand up to the plate a little more.
I'm still indifferent to I Love You Phillip Morris. It was funny in some sections, and quite mundane in others. Carrey is by far the best thing about it and is very funny in parts. Some may find the highly graphic gay sex scenes quite full on (the guy in front at the cinema obviously did not realise what film he had brought his date along to and kept trying to snog her whenever there was a 'gay' moment onscreen.) It was full-on, but I think we just found it quite funny more than anything., Saying that, I was surprised to see the film only have a '15' certificate as there was one extremely graphic scene quite near the beginning of the film. As well as that, I Love You Phillip Morris is probably the only film ever where a man fakes AIDS just to get out of prison. Philadelphia it ain't.
I Love You Phillip Morris was amusing in parts, but ultimately fails to decide what it actually is. I'm not really surprised to find that while the film has opened to the quite liberal European countries - it still has yet to find a distributor in its conservative homeland.
note: also appears on my film review website, TheFilmBlogger.com
Having endured a glut of less-than-brilliant outings in recent years - chiefly the abominable The Number 23, and the underwhelming Yes Man and A Christmas Carol - Jim Carrey finds himself back on terra firma with I Love You Phillip Morris, a deeply provocative love parable which sees the funny-man harness a layered performance that sits among his work in The Truman Show and Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind as his very best.
It's certain that Carrey's role here is his most daring yet; he plays Steven Russell, a dedicated family man who flouts the charmed life he has created by turning gay and moving to Miami with his toy boy, Jimmy (Rodrigo Santoro). However, to keep the money rolling in, he is forced to commit various acts of fraud, causing the police to eventually come a-knocking. In prison, Russell meets the titular Phillip Morris (Ewan McGregor), a shy and unassuming homosexual with whom he begins an intense love affair, while trying to find a way that they can leave prison and be together.
Though rumours of judicious, sterile re-editing have plagued this film for months, there's no doubting the film's unapologetic, utterly hilarious vulgarity. Given how insistently, almost sweetly profane the final product is, one can only dare to wonder what has been excised. The harmless madcap persona Carrey is best known for has been dirtied up here, and whether he's frantically getting his end away with a gruff stranger in a dingy apartment (while his receiving partner passionately shouts "come in my ass!"), or driving while under the influence of a potent pills-and-vodka cocktail, it's a riotously entertaining performance.
In many ways, I Love You Phillip Morris plays out like a funnier version of HBO's hit prison drama Oz; Russell uses his clout in prison to charm Morris in oddly endearing ways, such as having a screeching inmate beaten up so Morris is able to sleep. More traditionally tender moments, such as when they share a dance and a kiss in their cell are difficult to resist, and bring home how dedicated Carrey and McGregor - who share a fair few smooches throughout - are to this film's unique story.
While Carrey's more flashy turn will be the reason for most to see this, McGregor plays the retiring, blonde-haired "better half" with as-compelling aptitude, yet the film works ultimately because of the sum of its parts, with the electric chemistry between the two leads driving home the laughs, and more often, the surprisingly involving love story.
It isn't unreasonable to expect a Jim Carrey film to feast on expressive comedy and sight gags more than clever observation, but even structurally, this is a very different beast for Carrey; sure, there are the pratfalls and the impossible facial expressions he is known for, but there is also a dryer, more witty parlance at play, perhaps an indication that Carrey's hunger has returned. Still, the film's enough of a caper yarn that it's not going to alienate his core fanbase too much either - as long as they can get over the gay angle - because the film, much like Matt Damon's The Informant, essentially consists of numerous set-pieces which become increasingly more ridiculous and hilarious, while also giving Carrey's fans a rare glimpse at him dropping his fair share of F-bombs.
In many ways, Phillip Morris is the gayer, more audacious younger brother of Spielberg's marvellous Catch Me If You Can; the core premise is almost exactly the same, yet it is even more ludicrous. However, the film escapes the obvious accusations of contrivance through accepting and revelling in its own ridiculousness. The capers are loony, and while the film acknowledges a good bout of dumb luck in Russell's actions, he's also a smart guy, making the entire conceit far easier to swallow. This also makes the film's final act - which hinges on a dark left turn - all the more rewarding, as it pulls the rug out from under the viewer with a climax that is at once gracefully emotive and hilariously depraved.
The catharsis and Oscar-friendly gravitas of mainstream "gay" films is nowhere to be seen in I Love You Phillip Morris, yet as a depiction of one very barmy love story, it has its own arguably more authentic interpretation of the crazy things we all - regardless of gender or orientation - do for love. It's too good a film to cop out and provide the relief many will want, yet those after a diverting, challenging, and immensely brave film - especially given the mainstream talent on hand - should find plenty to love here.
Directed by Glenn Ficarra and John Requa, 'I Love You Phillip Morris' tells the life-story of Steven Russell (Jim Carrey), an ex-cop who to the casual observer would appear to be a happily married family man. However, all is not as it seems, and after a particularly nasty car accident, Steven decides to 'come out', embarking on an openly gay new life. Unfortunately, jumping straight to the Elton John scale of gayness (flamboyant and full-on with all the trimmings) is an expensive way to live, and our man begins to dabble in fraud. Of course, fraud is a habit which can quickly lead to a life behind bars, and whilst in prison, Steven meets the eponymous Philip Morris (Ewan McGregor). Morris is a shy and naïve individual who seems too good to be true, and it looks like a relationship is on the cards - but will it be a match made in heaven?, or a recipe for disaster?
The film is based on a true story - although it's one of the most ludicrous true stories that I have ever heard - there are so many twists, turns, and implausible events, that I'm sure a massive dollop of artistic license has been laid on rather thickly. Carrey's character is a rather unusual individual - he's often likable, frequently obnoxious, and as a viewer you're no sure whether or not to get behind his cause. In fact, this is one of the main issues I had with the film - the director's didn't seem to know whether to either champion Steven Russell's cause, or portray him as a loser, and the end result is a general difficulty to relate to him.
The acting boils down to a two man show between Jim Carrey and Ewan McGregor - and their on-screen chemistry was always going to be the key to this movie's success. Happily, the pair work well together, and act out what appears like a genuine and believable relationship. Carrey, who, even in a relatively straight* role (*straight, but still very much gay) can't help but perform his usual extreme facial contortions, which I have to say are somewhat annoying. That said, overall he puts in a commendable and heartfelt performance which will no doubt win him many plaudits. McGregor is good too - his southern accent occasionally lapses back into native Scottish, but his character seems convincing and likable, which is supposedly what the director was trying to put across.
So what is the movie supposed to be?... drama? a comedy? - Well, it's really a mixture of both - there are some hilarious scenes, but also serious issues to contemplate. It's a difficult movie to take at face value, and in many places I wasn't sure whether I should have been laughing or not. The opening sequences suggested slapstick, but the production quickly deviated into darker themes. For this reason (plus the fact that the director's previous work included 'Bad Santa') I couldn't really engage with the frequent serious tone, as I was waiting for the next joke. I would compare it to Adam Sandler's recent attempt at drama with 'Funny People', which was an awkward blend of comedy and terminal illness.
I Love You Phillip Morris is certainly an original film, and should be applauded for that - I personally enjoyed it, and there are sporadic moments of excellence dotted throughout the 102 minute run time. However, it's by no means a masterpiece due to the fact that the sloppy mid-section drags slightly, which has the effect of losing the good work put in during the entertaining opening. It's without doubt a daring movie, and really pushes the boundaries of the 15 certificate in terms of its graphic sexual scenes - which, occasionally feel like they have been added solely for the shock value. The movie is definitely one to watch, but it's the type of film which is always going to get mixed reviews - a solid 3/5 from me.
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Jim Carrey - Steven Russell
Ewan McGregor - Phillip Morris
Leslie Mann - Debbie
Rodrigo Santoro - Jimmy Kemple