Star Wars: Episode I -- The Phantom Menace

Does the original trilogy justice in terms of heart, action, and fun —Marty Mapes (review...)

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Jim Carrey plays gay!

If you find that noteworthy and interesting, then I Love You Phillip Morris is the movie for you.

Coming Out of the Closets

The Miami lifestyle agrees with Steven
The Miami lifestyle agrees with Steven

Steven Russell (Jim Carrey) is a con man at heart, and he’s “gay gay gay gay.”

He leads a normal, boring life. He has a wife, a young daughter, and a job with a produce company. He’s in the closet with his family, but he’s not in denial. He’s injured one night returning from an affair, and he has an epiphany. He comes out of the closet completely — at least about his sexual orientation. He decides a small town isn’t the place to be gay, so he leaves the family and moves to Miami.

The flashy gay lifestyle suits him, but it sure is expensive. That’s when the closet con man reveals itself. He’s not good enough at it, and gets arrested and jailed for fraud, where he meets Phillip Morris (Ewan McGregor; no, not the cigarette maker). Because Steven is a good confidence man, he’s able to grease the wheels in prison, and he has himself transferred to Phillip’s cell, where they set up house and live happily ... for now. Steven’s dream is to get them both out of prison and live the Miami lifestyle again.

Amazingly, Steven pulls it off. And after a few confidence-building scams, he lands a job as the CFO of an HMO payment processor. There, he’s able to really rake in the money, and they live the life Steven feels he’s always deserved.

Catch Me If You Can

Jim Carrey really flounces it up (did I mention Steven was gay?). He sashays a fine line between “flaming” and “stereotyped.” And because his sexual orientation is so in-your-face, I have to wonder whether the story would survive without the gay. If it were more serious, I Love You Phillip Morris might feel something like a wry caper a la Catch Me If You Can.

But once the movie zigs in that direction, Carrey/Steven does something outrageous and funny — but only if you stop taking the drama too seriously and zag back to comedy-land. You might say the movie tries to be heterothematic when what it needs to be is homothematic.

The chemistry — so important in a movie like this — is sometimes believable. McGregor’s Phillip doesn’t have a lot to do other than be the object of Steven’s affection, and that’s okay because Carrey’s Steven is plausibly head-over-heels. There are moments when they really sell it as a couple. But then there are times when Carrey seems to be fall back into his manic persona and McGregor seems like the sum of his past parts. The chemistry is probably as believable as McGregor’s accent, which often sounds Texan, with a little bit of residual English left over — maybe that’s what he was going for.

Don’t get me wrong, I did enjoy several chuckles, and I let myself get drawn into the drama. But afterwards, I felt like I had to work too hard to appreciate I Love You Phillip Morris.

Our festival advice: See what else is playing.