Oh, who am I kidding… these days all I do is watch and re-watch The Tudors anyhow…
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Today’s Pick: I Love You Phillip Morris (2009)
Written and Directed by John Requa and Glenn Ficarra
Based on the book by Steve McVicker
Starring Jim Carrey, Ewan McGregor, Leslie Mann
Rated R, Runtime 1hr 38min
Based on a real life story, I Love You Phillip Morris follows the cons, convictions, and prison love life of Steven Russell (Carrey) with title character Phillip Morris (McGregor). You could play a pretty decent drinking game here with the number of scams and prison sentences this guy gets; drink again for relocation during a single prison term.
How intensely irreverent this film is. Not to tread too greatly into cultural philosophy here, but I just graduated from a liberal arts school, so I’ve got to put two cents in on this bullshit. You know how a lot of people still think in terms of the Clinton years’ political correctness? Avoiding calling a thing by its name? Terms by which the characters in this film would be considered heterosexual-challenged, probably. What I’m getting at here is, okay we have a film with a gay criminal in it, and that’s cool because it’s really funny and because we’re going to acknowledge the backwards ideas some people have while making fun of them. Can we laugh at the people who don’t agree?Phillip Morrissure does.
End of rant.
Seriously, this is a fun story so ridiculous it has to be based in reality. And the idea that it is just blows my mind. Costuming and music did a great job of setting up this world from the first 5min, and the color tone and consistency really moves you through the decades while maintaining this feel of heightened reality. Which in my opinion is how to approach a romantic dramedy about con artists and inmate love.
Take it Or Leave It:
So I hear Jim Carrey actually starved himself for a few scenes, in which the character is presumed to have AIDS. He does look ill, so I’ll give him that, and I understand how serious he must have been to do this to his body. That’s what serious actors do, right? But it sort of weirds me out. This shot really emphasizes the emaciation, but that’s partly the angle he’s lying in too:
Yeah, I’m freaking out.
Also, Ewan McGregor was an unexpected casting choice for Phillip Morris. His performance was sweet and innocent, which is about as deep as Morris’ character goes. But when he and Steven fought, all I could do was imagine him shouting “YOU WERE THE CHOSEN ONE!!!”
It’s like the same thing.
There’s nothing to particularly hate about this movie, except that it is so very simple. I know, I know. There’s supposed to be merit in the simple story done well, right? Well, this is thoughtful and clever and plays with some expectations in very fun ways. I don’t think it’s supposed to be exceptionally deep or anything, so I can’t fault it for lacking these qualities. And yet, everything is really justtoosimple about this movie — character motivations, problems they face, the characters themselves. It’s all a little too light and fluffy, even for comedy. It gets frustrating at points, such as <SPOILERS!> when Steven decides to leave his family and old life behind in order to embrace his homosexual self after a car accident. It’s cliches like this that, although a joke is trying to be made about them, are just too cliche to redeem any humor value.
2.5 out of 5 Inspirational Chocolate Foils (you’ll get it if you watch; this one says “Commit random acts of kindness”) for a fun, thoughtful film that challenges some expectations but disappoints others. Sometimes innovative, sometimes cliche beyond redemption, and glancing over what could have been some interesting character points.