Review of I love you Phillip Morris written and directed by Glenn Ficarra John Requa
This is a hard film not to like. Jim Carrey and Ewan McGregor play the two main characters at the heart of this story. Jim plays con man Steven Russell who decides that it’s easier to con people than to actually accomplish the many personas he takes on, whether it be a lawyer or the CFO of a major corporation. Ewan McGregor plays Steven’s love interest. His entire existence seems to be to just lie around by the pool while Steven brings home the bacon. And that’s the one problem I had with the film. Despite the efforts of both actors in their attempts at portraying real people, the real people they are portraying aren’t very likable.
The cons that Steven set up don’t actually harm anyone. He is someone who understands the trusting nature of people. Most people don’t lie about their background and experience. Most people don’t take money that doesn’t belong to them. And so Steven has free reign to pull off whatever con he’s willing to try. The old adage of don’t do the crime if you can’t do the time doesn’t apply to him because he apparently is willing to do the time. It’s in prison where he meets Phillip Morris.
Despite the unlikeable characters, the film is entertaining just as stories of other con artists are such as The Sting and Butch and Sundance. The difference, though, is that Butch and Sundance are criminals but they are likable criminals. I didn’t have the same empathy for Steven and Phillip.
I might have had a little more empathy for Steven had the filmmakers put in at least one scene that showed him as someone who cared for someone other than himself. Now you can argue that the entire film is about how everything he did was because of his love for Phillip Morris, but that is also self serving. Did the real Steven Russell abandon his daughter like he did in this film? Sending money home in FEDX packages isn’t exactly a loving gesture.
In the end, Steven gets a sentence that he doesn’t deserve. He’s someone who has made a lot of bad decisions, but a life sentence with a 23 hour lock down is, in my opinion, cruel and inhumane punishment. The punishment should equal the crime and it does not in this case.
The DVD had a making of documentary and a very good audio commentary. The one thing missing were images of the real Steven Russell and Phillip Morris, though Phillip did have a cameo in the film.
Since the filmmakers didn’t have the images I went out and found them myself.
One last note. This film was based on a book written by Steven Mcvicker. Talk about a publisher dropping the ball. I couldn’t find any movie tie-in. No paperback version of the book and no Kindle version. If I was the author I would be furious. What a missed opportunity. Someone needs to have their head examined on this one.
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