Saturday, July 10, 2010

I love you Phillip Morris - Movie Review

Watch this if you're gay, otherwise sit awkwardly through it - by Nick van der Leek

The reviews you'll read for this flick, I'm guessing, are going to tell you a lot about the reviewers themselves.

There was a little hesitation in going to see this Jim Carrey flick, given IMDB's iffy score of 6.8/10. A good rule of thumb is not to bother going to anything under 7/10, but Jim Carrey has never let us down. Until now.

The problem is that this is called a comedy, but only about 5% is comedy, and the comedy isn't Carrey's usual mad stuff. Okay maybe it's  more than 5%, but there's not of the usual belly squeezing bedlam Carrey is famous for. The other problem is that the preview shows Carrey throwing himself on the floor and onto an escalator in a loony cartoon-style that suggests the entire flick is going to be loony-tunes, in the way that Bruce Almighty was, or Ace Ventura, or Liar Liar. Phillip Morris is a much more sophisticated [aka serious]story, and sad in some ways, hence it falls a little flat. It also doesn't really help that Carrey and Ewan McGregor play gay with such conviction. It's not gross funny or even creepy crawly funny watching them kiss [many times], it's just discomfiting. And that's not funny.

I'm not a homophobic viewer, or perhaps I am. I enjoyed the pathos in Brokeback Mountain, I didn't find the gay cowboys too troubling, in facts Heath Ledger's kerfuffling was done with much maturity and subtlety.  Phillip Morris is much more in your face.  I think directors Glenn Ficarra and John Requa got lost in the plot here. One of the few redeeming qualities in this flick are the plot twists and also, that it's based on a true story. Other than that you don't really give a hoot about either of the characters. Carrey does perform well, but there's something contemptible about being so smart at being compulsively dishonest that doesn't resonate.  McGregor is okay, but Carrey overshadows him. There's some hooting with laughter, especially the scene in the speedboat ["You don't love me"] but overall it's a downer. The references to oral sex also gets a bit much.  The directors found a very good story, but it's not the sort of thing that translates to film, and a story about a Christian-fundamentalist homosexual fraudster and jailbird is arthouse stuff at best.

It did make me wonder - was the fact that Carrey's character was adopted the reason behind the constant prison terms.  Was that innate sense of being rejected, worthless, not valuable behind the obsession to accumulate money by foul means?  Because surely someone with a little self esteem would say, You know what, beating the law just isn't worth all this time and effort.  I'm better than this.  Food for thought.

Rotten Tomatoes gives it 81%, so you might want to get a few second opinions. RT says: one of the best performances of Jim Carrey's career.

Two Oceans Vibe gives it a 6, calls it 'satisfactory': I Love You Phillip Morris is not for everyone. In fact, the story wouldn’t be the same if Steven and Phillip were straight. It’s a bit of a gimmick, holding some fascination and making it character-driven rather than depending on a strong true story...The men are openly gay, yet aren’t openly confronted by homophobia. Jim Carrey fans will be slightly disappointed it wasn’t funnier and some will be surprised at just how serious he can be when he wants. The performances are the main reason to see I Love You Phillip Morris: refreshing territory for both A-listers and backed by an unusual prison love story.

I'm going to take the middle ground, perhaps leaning slightly towards the Two Oceans Vibe and give it a 6.5/10. If you're gay, what are you still doing here?

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