The true story of Steven Russell, a gay con artist who met the love
of his life in prison and went to great lengths to be with him.
I Love You Phillip Morris (2009)
Written and Directed by Glenn Ficarra and John Requa
Starring Jim Carrey, Ewan McGregor, Leslie Mann, Rodrigo Santoro, Antoni Corone, Brennan Brown, Michael Mandell
Based on the book I Love You Phillip Morris: A True Story of
Life, Love, and Prison Breaks by Steve McVicker
I had zero expectations going into this one. It's been nearly a decade since Jim Carrey had a solid hit under his belt, and I was beginning to think he was on his way out. Then I saw this little film and realized he has a whole different level of untapped potential he's only just starting to use. Carrey's turn as real-life con artist Steven Russell is arguably one of the best of his career. He perfectly balances comedy and drama, delivering one of his most humanizing and at times heartbreaking performances alongside an equally great Ewan McGregor. This is a film that you wouldn't expect to pull on your heartstrings, but prepare for tears.
Carrey and McGregor have impeccable chemistry. If I hadn't been familiar with their work, I would've thought they really were gay. They sidestep the stereotypes to deliver fully authentic performances that standout in their respective filmographies. This is one of the only Jim Carrey movies from the last 10-15 years that made me laugh, which really surprised me. I'm not saying Carrey's a bad actor. He's delivered great performances before. I just think he's made some bad script choices lately and this film very well could've been the start of a comeback had it gotten more attention.
The story of Steven Russell is so bizarre to begin with, from his multiple escape attempts to his various monetary scams. By the end of the film, you find yourself thinking just how much of it was true. The truth is pretty much all of it really was. I Love You Phillip Morris is an entertaining and wildly unbelievable true story that features a host of memorable performances and a much-needed win for Jim Carrey. Hopefully, he's got more good ones in store for the future.