I have been a fan of John Carrey for some time, and after a few hits and misses over the past few years, “I Love You Phillip Morris” feels to have restored him back to comedic glory with Ewan McGregor as the perfect accomplice in this hilarious story.
Directed by Glenn Ficarra and John Requa, “I Love You Phillip Morris” is based on the true story of Steven Russell (and novel written by Steve McVicker), a con artist who went from one extreme to another; from being a devoted father, husband and God fearing organ player at his church, to a gay, Miami-living, gold-chain wearing con artist.
The transition he goes through is expressed as only Carrey can, with scenes of his husbandly duties in the bedroom, doggie-style of course, to the moment when he is shaken to the core in a car accident, emerging with the realization that he in fact, prefers the company of men. And when he moves his lifestyle to the other side, he goes all the way in a “go big or go homo” fashion.
Thing is, his job in law enforcement just doesn’t support his new lifestyle…buying gifts for his new boyfriend, clothes and cars, and the like. And so begins Russell’s venture into illegal schemes to increase that cash flow, which after a while lands him in jail.
This is where he meets the love of his life, a sweet and somewhat gullible inmate Phillip Morris. From there, Russell’s sole focus is on his lover, using his con talent to not only get himself out of jail but Morris as well. And the almost unconscious finesse in which he pulls these antics is hysterical, as is the series of con jobs that ensued.
Ficarra and Requa excelled at crafting scenes with contrasting moments, from a slow dance between Russell and Morris as the prison goes into high alert, to Russell trying to hide his illegal activities with a coy suggestion to take a trip as the cops surround his house. That, the writing and timing along with the talent of these actors puts this film in a classic comedy category, with the potential for cult status in the future.