Jan 2, 2011

[Movies] I Love You Phillip Morris (2009)

I Love You Phillip Morris (2009)In recent years, it seems like the whole LGBT-centric movie genre is getting more and more attention, which is always a good thing. Instead of just depending on small-time actors supporting these movies, more and more you get random movies with bigger names actors playing the roles of LGBT characters. And regardless of the quality of their performances or the overall writing of the movie, this still has to be a good thing.

Of course I can't always agree with some of the casting choices, but we all have moments like that. We can't blame actors for wanting to get into gay movies only to expand their horizons or increase their chances of getting some kind of an award for their risky performances. We have to respect those decisions, but it doesn't mean we have to like the movies that they ended up creating.

I think what's important here is that we make sure we maintain and discerning and critical eye and when we watch any movies regardless of theme or genre. Sometimes we become too forgiving or sometimes we set very low expectations. Case in point, just because it's a gay movie doesn't mean gay men around the world should love it. I mean come on, I actually suffered through Sunkissed and I've sworn never to watch it ever, ever again.

I Love You Phillip Morris is a 2010 comedy-drama movie inspired by the life of real-life homosexual con artist Steven Jay Russell. It was based on the book I Love You Phillip Morris: A True Story Of Life, Love, And Prison Breaks by Steve McVicker and was directed by Glenn Ficarra and John Requa.

PARK CITY, UT - JANUARY 18:  (L-R) Actors Jim ...Image by Getty Images via @daylifeThe movie begins with a dying Russell (Jim Carrey) who starts to recount his life and how he ended up where he did. Things start with him being happily married to Debbie (Leslie Mann) and working as a police officer in Virginia Beach. When not working as a cop, he spends his time trying to find his biological mother or fucking the brains out of some guy. So yes, Russell then reveals to us that he's gay despite the whole marriage thing.

In time he leaves this life behind and starts to life a life as a gay man. He moves to Miami and eventually finds a boyfriend in the form of Jimmy (Rodrigo Santoro) and does everything that he can to live a life that he perceives to be "worthy" of being gay. Thus Russell ends up getting into cons left and right until he's eventually caught. Once in prison however, he meets the young Phillip Morris (Ewan McGregor) and falls madly in love with him. Thus the rest of the movie follows their prison romance and subsequently how they get out of jail over and over again in the pursuit of happiness.

The story in itself seems to have an element of fantasy to it and it's hard to believe that all this really happened. And I suppose that's part of the draw of the movie - the whole reality aspect to things. One has to remember that the movie is set many years ago and thus all the repeated prison escapes are more than possible given the varying degrees of security in smaller prisons and the like.

The casting included some fairly big name actors. I'm sure more than one gay man (or woman) in the audience squealed with seeing Santoro in a gay role (and pretty good at it). Then of course you get the top billing of Carrey and McGregor, who did make for a very odd pairing that sometimes worked and sometimes didn't.

I'm not a big fan of Jim Carrey's acting style. He gets a tad too over the top for me at times and unless the director knows how to control him. In order to get what you want from him as an actor, one needs a very clear vision and good knowledge of how to steer Carrey's energies in the right direction. He has a lot of hits and misses in his acting career and I feel his ventures into drama end up being stranger than one could hope. In this movie, I feel the mix of comedy and drama ends up being too much for him to handle and thus he adds comedy in the wrong places and tries to be dramatically serious in others.

Ewan McGregor didn't fare all that much better to me either. His interpretation of things was a bit strange and I suppose I have to give credit to his wanting to do a good job even if that didn't always happen. I think the big challenge is the fact that they both had to try playing southern gay men, thus that results in some strange combination of acting roles where they don't consistently do well in portraying either. Oh well.

In the end, the movie had an odd message to convey and a mixed manner of doing so. It wasn't a bad movie, but it wasn't particularly impressive or gripping for me. Some of my friends liked it a heck of a lot more but I'm not quire sure where they're coming from in that regard.

I Love You Phillip Morris is still a good addition to the growing number of LGBT movies out there. It gets 3 ridiculous prison escapes out of a possible 5.

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