August 25, 2011

#137: I Love You Phillip Morris

I Love You Phillip Morris is a couple years old but I sure of heck had never heard of it before a few months ago when a couple critics I respect were singing its praises. It is a pretty small film but it stars Jim Carey and Ewan McGregor as gay lovers.  Sound like a laugh a minute right?

 I'm not totally sure that it is a comedy, or a love story, or a prison escape film, or a true story for that matter.  I went in blind having no clue what to expect and I left a little confused as to what I'd just watched.

When I first heard about the film the guys discussing it praised the acting and the effectiveness of the central love story. They claimed it conveyed true emotion and that was nice to see between a gay couple that met in prison.  Those comments probably set my expectations for the film, and what I saw didn't coincide with those sentiments at all.  From beginning to end this film seemed extremely silly to me. I could never take it seriously. I played more like a mediocre comedy than a drama.  Every time they tried to have an emotional moment it was undermined by the accents or some lame joke that they tried to throw in there.  From the setup it seemed like a half-hearted attempt to be funny and poignant at the same time, and it didn't really work for me.

That's not to say this movie is horrible or not worth watching. I was at least engaged the entire way. It was interesting to say the least. It was a different type of role for Jim Carey. He did fine but way too much of his silly showed through for me to believe that he actually was the guy he portrayed.  I could not buy what he was selling. I felt like he was playing at being a gay guy instead of embodying the role.  Not that I know anything about what it means to effectively play a homosexual. It was just the sense I got from his character.  McGregor was more believable, but they both had ridiculous southern accents that also kept me from taking it seriously.

There was a lot of story that took place before our two main characters meet. It seemed to be a fairly short amount of time for their relationship to grow. At the end when we are set up for the big emotional payoff it really fell flat.  There is a somewhat manipulative scene that made me think about caring for a split second. However, I didn't, and when you find out what is really going on it makes the actual relationship seem that much more affected. By the end I didn't think Carey's character was in true love... I just thought he was pretty stupid and possibly mentally ill. It wasn't the positive picture of a man-man love connection I thought it was going for, and other seemed to get from it.  If anything, it might have been slightly demeaning. It definitely propagated stereotypes for a couple cheap laughs.  

I Love You Phillip Morris is available on Netflix instant and is probably worth checking out. I was the perfect age for Ace Ventura and watched those films many times growing up.  If I'm not mistaken I caught a few glimpses of Ace in this performance.  Jim Carey at least is always entertaining to watch on screen. Unfortunately that is by far the best compliment I can pay this film.

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