I Love You Phillip Morris review, I Love You Phillip Morris DVD review
Jim Carrey, Ewan McGregor,
Leslie Mann, Rodrigo Santoro
Glenn Ficarra and John Requa
I Love You Phillip Morris

Reviewed by Jason Zingale



t’s been a long, hard road for the makers of “I Love You Phillip Morris,” and quite unreasonably so. After a successful run on the festival circuit in 2009 (including stops at Sundance and Cannes), the film’s theatrical release was delayed numerous times as it passed through the hands of several distributors before Roadside Attractions finally swooped in to save the day. You wouldn’t think that a movie about an openly gay relationship between two men would create so much controversy after “Brokeback Mountain,” but the whole thing is such a non-issue that it’s amazing it was ever a deal-breaker to begin with. Laugh-out-loud funny at moments and surprisingly touching in others, “I Love You Phillip Morris” has the potential to be a dark horse contender come awards season.

Jim Carrey stars as Steven Russell, a real-life con artist who was sentenced to a ridiculous 144-year prison term after cleverly escaping numerous times over the course of a five-year period. Before his life of crime, however, Steven was a dedicated family man who, believe it or not, worked as a police officer. Oh yeah, and he’s secretly gay. But after a near-death experience forces him to rethink the way he’s been living his life, Steven decides to leave his Christian wife (Leslie Mann), move to Miami, and fund an extravagant lifestyle with his new boyfriend (Rodrigo Santoro) through various insurance and credit card frauds. He’s finally caught by the authorities and sent to jail, but in a twist of fate, he meets the sweetly naïve Phillip Morris (Ewan McGregor) while inside and falls in love. After cooking up a scheme to get them both out of prison, the pair starts a new life together, only for Steven to grow bored and revert back to his old ways.

Based on the book by reporter Steve McVicker, “I Love You Phillip Morris” opens with a modest plea to the audience: “This really happened. It really did.” You can understand why a disclaimer like that might be necessary, because while the events in the movie certainly seem fabricated, the fact that it’s all true is what makes it so entertaining. At the center of the film is also a really sweet love story – one that Jim Carrey and Ewan McGregor handle remarkably well by creating a relationship that feels genuine and effortless. It’s to their credit that you don’t even think twice about them being gay, and while McGregor is fantastic as the title character, Carrey outshines him in a role that highlights his talents as both a comedic and dramatic actor. It’s his best performance since “Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind,” and yet will likely go unnoticed by many.

Though he’s a criminal and a serial liar, it’s difficult not to admire Steven Russell to some extent – if not for his innovative prison breaks (which, for the record, he pulled off without harming a single person in the process), then for the fact that he did it in the name of love. That might not make it right, but it sure makes for a great story, and directors Glenn Ficarra and John Requa (who also adapted the screenplay) do an excellent job of striking a balance between the comedy of the situation and the seriousness of Russell’s actions. As a result, the laughs are always well-earned and the more poignant moments don’t feel phony, even if they are to a certain degree. But while some people might feel betrayed by the long con that the movie plays on the audience, you can bet that the real-life Russell would have enjoyed every minute. "I Love You Phillip Morris" is not only his legacy, but it's one of the funniest films of the year.

Single-Disc DVD Review:

Considering just how long it took for the film to get released in theaters, fans of “I Love You, Phillip Morris” should count themselves lucky that the studio decided to produce any bonus material for the DVD release at all. It’s not much, but the audio commentary by writers/directors John Requa and Glenn Ficarra (along with several crew members) is definitely worth a listen; the included making-of featurette contains some insightful interviews with Jim Carrey and Ewan McGregor about their respective characters; and there’s about 16 minutes of deleted and extended scenes that are pretty hit and miss.

Watch the Trailer Photo Gallery

You can follow us on Twitter and Facebook for content updates. Also, sign up for our email list for weekly updates and check us out on Google+ as well.

Around the Web