I Love You Phillip Morris - Blu-ray Review

'if Jim Carrey is in your dramatic film covering a serious subject then your film has got a problem'

If Jim Carrey is in your dramatic film covering a serious subject then your film has got a problem. I don't mean that as a slight on Carrey but having him present signifies your film out to an audience as one thing and one thing only; a balls-out comedy with Carrey providing his trademark humour.

Various films have tried to overcome this and succeeded. The Truman Show was a marvellous amalgamation of a great story with enough room included for Carrey to do comedy. Fun With Dick And Jane was a comedy which reigned Carrey in by having him play the average guy next door. But for every Truman Show there's a Number 23. For every Fun With Dick And Jane there's a Batman Forever. Balancing Carrey is a skill all in itself and, unfortunately, it's a skill that first-time directors Glenn Ficarra and John Requa don't even come close to mastering at any point during I Love You Phillip Morris.

As such, and as ever with a Carrey film where the director hasn't mastered Carrey, the tone is all over the place. The signs are there early on. A scene with the supposedly straight Steven Russell (Carrey) having homosexual sex is played deliberately and broadly for laughs and it works as the type of comedy Carrey excels at; loud, uncompromising and a tad unexpected. Contrast that though with a scene where Carrey goes to visit the mother that gave him up for adoption. The laughs here feel less natural, more forced and the scene feels tangibly like it was meant to be more serious than Carrey makes it and than Ficarra and Requa frame it. This sort of ill-fitting balance continues throughout with touching scenes ruined by a manic Carrey who excels at the more overt pieces of comedy.

In all this Carrey, there's not a lot of room for anything else. Ewan McGregor's Phillip Morris gets lost in the ether and considering he plays the titular character, the Morris/Russell relationship feels less developed than the Russell/Jimmy Kemple (Rodrigo Santoro) one of the first half, which, by the way, attempts to balance the comedy with the seriousness of a young man dying from AIDS.

Needless to say it doesn't succeed and, unfortunately, I Love You Phillip Morris falls into the group of valiant films that have tried to defy genre and have ended up being entirely unsatisfying because of that very fact.

Look further...

'consistently funny, clever and surprising, and it's also rather daring in its straightforward depiction of a homosexual relationship' - Phil On Film


  1. Remember what I was saying about it? So, I totally agree with your review. And as for comedy parts, who really made me laugh more was not Carrey but McGregor.

  2. I do absolutely remember yes! McGregor is good in this but I just found his role really underwritten - thought he could have had a lot more to do. Like you, I was generally pretty disappointed really.

  3. Jim Carrey is an actor that a strong director has to rein in. He is definitely capable of a good dramatic performance as shown in Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind. It's too bad it didn't work out here.

  4. Yes completely agree Castor, he can definitely do the serious stuff, he just needs someone to tease the performance out of him properly and, as you say, it didn't come of for him and the directors here.