I Love You Phillip Morris
- Reviewed by: 00Dylan
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I Love You Phillip Morris tells the true story of con man Steven Jay Russell, his multiple incarcerations and subsequent escapes, and his relationship with fellow inmate Phillip Morris. The film is part comedy, part drama, and a whole lotta heart. It also doesn't hurt that Jim Carrey turns in one of the best performances of his career.
Steven Jay Russell is a complicated man. At the beginning of the movie he's happy, content, working as a police offer and living with his wife and children. After a car crash, he splits ways with the family, revealing that he's gay. He then moves to Miami, where he lives a lifestyle that he can't afford. This makes him desperate for cash. Desperate people do desperate things, so Russell turns to a life of con, which lands him in prison. This is where he meets Phillip Morris. This is also where he escapes, gets arrested, escapes, gets arrested, escapes - you get the picture.
Jim Carrey absolutely inhabits the role of Russell, and in a career that's spawned many great performances, this is his best yet. Russell's behavior spawns a plethora of emotion reactions, including laughter, love, hatred, and downright disgust. Being a con man is in his blood. He can't help it. At least, I truly believe he can't. I'm not familiar with the true story behind the film, I didn't know of its existence until hearing about the film, but if there is at least a shred of decency in that man, than Carrey did him justice. Steven Jay Russell is a criminal, make no mistake about that. He's a criminal serving well over 100 years in a Texas penitentiary. But after Carrey gives it his all, it's impossible to hate him.
After all, he's in movie prison. While prisons are wholly necessary places that keep the baddest of the bad locked up and away from normal society, movie prison is something entirely different. Movie prison is rarely viewed as anything but an oppressive, unfair institution that locks up innocent souls and throws away the key. The ` Redemption? Escape From Alcatraz? Ernest Goes to Jail? All classic films, and all of them have us rooting for the inmates from the get-go. So perhaps I'm being fooled into thinking that Russell really isn't that bad of guy. Perhaps I'm just reacting negatively to movie prison.
I Love You Phillip Morris is an undeniably sweet tale of a man head over heels in love - both with another man and with his lifestyle. He balances both precariously, or at the very least tries to. Russell is a remarkable man in a lot of ways and Carrey brings him to life as only an expert craftsman could. When Carrey isn't trying to get cheap laughs out of absurd premises, when he's given a chance to be a sensible human being, he absolutely shines. This is one of those cases, and I Love You Phillip Morris is a great film because of it.
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