Once I learned that most of the events of I Love You Philip Morris are completely factual, I liked the movie a bit more. I scoured the internet after the film ended searching for more information about Steven Jay Russell. Everything I read only made Jim Carrey's portrayal of him even more fascinating.
I Love You Philip Morris is the story of Russell, the ultimate con artist. He ends up falling in love with a man he meets in prison named Philip Morris (Ewan McGregor). Throughout the film he escapes from prison about six times, embezzles money, posts his own bail, and has a lot of gay sex. Carrey certainly went all out for this role, and it's nice to see that in the past few years he's been choosing roles that he really feels like throwing his full soul into.
I've mentioned before that I think Jim Carrey is a phenomenal actor. Both he and McGregor give memorable performances as your average couple struggling through an average display of life's little tricks. Like repeated incarceration escapes. Both actors tug at your heartstrings in impressive ways, and they make you feel the emotion of a struggling couple.
It centers on Russell's incredible skill as a con artist and impostor as a way of giving everything he wants to his lovers. He still maintains an average relationship with his ex-wife (Leslie Mann). He's really a very vulnerable man, and through all the crimes he commits you end up rooting for him because you know he's doing it for the good of another person. Ah, morality.
It's a decent love story with decent emotion but the thing that kind of put me off about I Love You Philip Morris is how cliché the "lovey-dovey" dialogue was. Perhaps it was an attempt to show recycled love story lines in a newer homosexual fashion, but I only kind of wanted to laugh through a lot of the drama - never a good sign. The emotion was never quite there for me, despite two really great performances by Carrey and McGregor.
I haven't mentioned how funny this movie is, which is what brings it from a 2 to a 3. McGregor isn't funny at all, because he's not supposed to be. And that means the comedy is left to Carrey, quite possibly the master of comedy. He had me laughing decently hard for most of the movie and that's what makes it watchable. Steven Jay Russell is such an interesting character that it's nearly impossible not to be fascinated by his every word and every move. Even Mann snags some laughs, but only because of her delivery. Directors Glenn Ficarra and John Requa may not have realized that I Love You Philip Morris was a comedy until Carrey walked on the project. And it's not a situation where the film was taken off its original track and guided into Carrey's goofy dream. Rather Carrey looked into Russell's soul and saw that this movie needed his comedy, and it's better because of it. McGregor however, again despite a good performance, is not nearly as lovable as Carrey, and that's tough when the title depends on his lovability. It's a love story, but it's a basic story, and at the end all I could think was; I don't love you Philip Morris.