Thursday, 18 March 2010

I Love You Philip Morris

Steven Russell is an average, everyday hard-working family man with a lovely wife and 2 children. He's also gay. After being rejected by his birth mother, Russell decides leave his old life behind, move to Florida and turns to a life of crime to pay for the extravagant lifestyle he and his boyfriend have become accustomed to. After getting caught and sent to prison, he falls in love with a young man called Philip Morris, and so begins Russell's mission to get them both free and to live the life he wants for them both.

To be completely honest, this film is somewhat underwhelming. It never truly works as a proper comedy film apart from a few choice moments and characters, Carrey and McGregor not included. The film has so many dark undertones throughout, it makes it a much more serious affair than you'd be led to believe by the lighthearted trailer. Don't be fooled. Yes, you'll get a few laughs out of it, but the rest of it will make you sit back and wonder just how on earth the real Steven Russell got away with what he did before he was finally caught once and for all.

Carrey's performance of Russell is pretty convincing, and he seems to be a perfect fit for the character, especially during Russell's moments of self-injury as part of his multiple insurance frauds. McGregor's role of Morris could, however, have been played by anyone decent-looking, and the film really plays up to the fact it's Ewan McGregor playing a gay man. The film seems to exploit the relationship between Russell and Morris rather than portray it for what it was in reality. They get the obligatory gay jokes in with Carrey and McGregor and Carrey with various others, and they certainly make the most of Carrey and McGregor's multiple kisses throughout the film, but that seems to be almost the only reason this film exists: Jim Carrey and Ewan McGregor as a gay couple, not to document Steven Russell's amazing story.

Watching this film, I noticed two moments which made the audience whisper in excitement: First, the moment where Brennan Brown (the guy from the Orange 'Turn your mobile phone off' adverts) turns up as an executive at the insurance company where Russell cons his way into a high powered job. Secondly, albeit more hushed, was at the end, when over the top of the final few scenes, they begin to play the same aria Tim Robbins plays in The Shawshank Redemption over the PA system as a subtle nod to the classic prison breakout movie. These moments held no great significance toward the film though, and will undoubtedly be the other things for which people remember the film, because there are absolutely no good, quotable lines to take away from this movie. The sign of a good comedy is to have its audience leave the screen quoting classic lines and laughing, not discussing Steven Russell's ultimate con: Faking his own slow death by AIDS.

Overall, this film is a bit of a disappointment. I had high hopes for this film, but it seemed to fall short in every category, which was a real shame, because it had so much potential. The story is an amazing one to tell, and most of the humour that comes from this film comes from the story rather than any particular line. Jim Carrey's great to watch, and does what he needs to do well, playing the funny-serious guy he's now become accustomed to playing. It's just a real shame that I didn't love I Love You Philip Morris.

Rating: ***