Friday, December 3, 2010

I LOVE YOU PHILLIP MORRIS


I went to an early screening of this film and was not able to write about it until now and I’ve been bursting the whole time.  After all of the talk about who was going to release it, and whether or not the holdup was due to content or business, I was intrigued to see what the fuss was all about.  Now that I’ve seen the film I can clearly see why co-writer/directors Glenn Ficarra and John Requa were eager to get it out to the public.  It’s a unique and hilarious story, based on true events, and it has top-notch performances by Jim Carrey and Ewan McGregor. 
Carrey plays Steven Russell, the real-life con-man that broke out of a Texas jail multiple times to be with his titular lover played with na├»ve, Forrest Gump-ish charm, by Ewan McGregor.  Leslie Mann plays the good Christian girl he married while trying to live the straight life.  He quickly leaves her after a near-fatal car accident he has driving home from a male lover’s home inspires him to live his life openly.  They remain friends after divorcing and she keeps in touch with him throughout his many colorful misadventures, always gently reminding him that he has a friend in Jesus.  Phillip, who is serving time for a car rental gone wrong, meets Steven in a prison library, and it’s love at first sight.  Soon Steven has maneuvered the system to allow them to be cell mates and their love blossoms. 
Once they are both free men Steven quickly uses his sharp brain and silver tongue to get himself a job that he is completely unqualified for, on paper at least, as Chief Financial Officer for a medical management firm, but manages to make them enough money that no one notices right away how much he’s pocketing.  Of course, the proverbial shit hits the fan, and then start the multiple jail breaks that are really too fun to spoil in this review, but take my word for it they are a riot.  The relationship between Phillip and Steven, as well as the one between Phillip and his ex-wife, feel lived-in and natural, a credit to all of the leads.  
And though the film is for the most part uproariously funny, there are touching and sad moments that are well-tempered and add a welcome balance to the film.  The language is very adult and can be crass at times, (these are the writers of Bad Santa after all), but if you can take it, it’s definitely worth the ride.