|Directed by:||Glenn Ficarra, John Requa|
|Written by:||Glenn Ficarra, John Requa|
|Cast:||Jim Carrey, Ewan McGregor, Leslie Mann, Rodrigo Santoro|
It has been a few years since we’ve had a dramatic performance from Jim Carrey, and some feel it’s been awhile that we’ve seen a good movie of his, period. I’ve been a huge fan of all of Carrey’s films from the day I began to watch his comedies as a child. His recent comedies include a lot of children’s films such as Horton Hears A Who! and Lemony Snicket’s A Series of Unfortunate Events, but also the criminally underrated Yes Man. However, I Love You Phillip Morris is his most recent dramatic work since The Number 23, which I thought was an outstanding role for Jim Carrey to display his actual acting abilities in. He’s always been a high-energy, entertaining, and immensely talented actor, and his performance as Steven Russell shows us absolutely no different. This film never really saw the darkness of a movie theater, at least anywhere near me, and it was due to several problems during production and with its reception afterwards. It’s no surprise to me why this wasn’t a huge blockbuster, and it’s also no wonder as to why this may be Jim Carrey’s only forgotten film in the future.
There’s something about I Love You Phillip Morris that keeps your interest held for most of the runtime, and that one thing is obviously Jim Carrey. His portrayal of the recently realized gay man is one of comedic genius, without coming off as a bigot or offensively humorous character. I’m not personally into the culture of gays and lesbians, but I felt that the humor of the movie was all in taste and never came across as offensive material. Part of that has to do with Carrey’s undeniable ability for physical comedy, as it seems that his more comedic side of this character is all portrayed physically. Meanwhile, Russell’s career and life choices and brought across in an emotional manner, and Carrey does a tremendous job at making his character all around entertaining. Even though Carrey himself is such a likable actor/person, he’s able to beautifully paint the life of this jerk who made miserable lifestyle choices that got him into the boat he was in. Steven Russell could quite possibly be one of Carrey’s best performances of his career, but it couldn’t have come at a worse time.
There’s so much that goes wrong with this film that it’s almost too hard to even explain without someone having seen it yet. There’s an endless struggle between two plots all throughout the movie, the straight and the gay. The gay plot line follows Steven Russell in his life of love of men and how it evolves from just having men to have them, to actually falling in love. There’s also the straight line plot line, that is accounting for Russell’s life choices outside of his love for men, whether or not they attempt to bleed together. I think the intention of the direction was to take it and eventually have both of these story arcs crash into one dramatic scene or two at the end of the film, but they just weren’t pieced together well at all. It felt like two entirely different movies playing against one another with the same characters involved, and obviously both the story lines were aware of one another. I just felt by the end of the movie that I’d been dragged along for a ride twice as long as I wanted to be on it.
The one good thing to come out of the film though is the awkward yet somehow endearing relationship between Steven Russell and Phillip Morris. Phillip Morris is played by another extremely talented actor in Ewan McGregor, and is probably the main reason that this relationship in the film works. McGregor puts in a great effort of soft and shy acting to give us Phillip Morris, the newest and most engulfing love interest of Russell’s. As I’ve said before I’m not an expert in the culture that has become homosexuality, but I thought that McGregor did really well at giving us a good sense of what the “sheltered” gay was like. Throughout the film you really want Morris to be swept away by Steven Russell just because he seems so innocent and inexperienced, as if he needed a strong relationship with another man to solidify himself in his personality. Where Morris seems unsure and weary at times, Steven Russell makes up for in confidence and wisdom, and the two characters work really well with one another.
All I could’ve hoped for is a little better “tying of the laces” between these two sides of the metaphorical shoe, because I really just felt that in the end half the movie didn’t even connect to the other half. With better execution and elaboration on the right elements of this film, I’d very easily be able to say this is Carrey’s best performance. The only reason it’s hard for me to say it’s definitively his best is because one could argue that a few of his other performances amount to better movies. It’s a true instance of where the caliber of performance in the lead role of this film, doesn’t match the overall quality of film in the end. I see exactly why this movie had trouble climbing out of the deep, dark hole it seemed trapped in for quite awhile, and it’s such a shame to see a brilliant performance from not only Carrey, but McGregor as well, go to waste. If you have any aversion to the homosexual culture, I would most definitely avoid this movie, but the film never seemed to cross the line into offensive or disrespectful material for those who don’t. Even though Jim Carrey and Ewan McGregor brought their A-game to I Love You Phillip Morris, directors Glenn Ficarra and John Requa may have wanted to just keep this half-assed movie in the closet.