Every once in a while, a film comes along that rocks the viewer's pre-conceptions and ideas about the type of film they've sat down to watch. When most of you decide you want to watch a gay-themed Jim Carrey film that has been marketed as a uproarious comedy in the vein of "I Now Pronounce You Chuck And Larry," you would never guess you'd get something closer to "Brokeback Mountain."
However, "Phillip Morris" is a heavily dramatic film with some funny moments, and not the other way around. This is in no way a bad thing, so long as you know what you're getting into. The film that was raved about at the Sundance Film Festival last year had a difficult time finding a distributor, but now that it has, this is a release that was definitely worth the wait.
Jim Carrey plays a former cop and real-life con man Steven Russell, whose stranger than fiction story involves him getting into a near-fatal car accident, and subsequently having a midlife crisis. He leaves his wife (Leslie Mann, in a role not worth her talent) and eventually his new extravagant lifestyle leads to frauds and cons that land him in state prison. It is there that he meets Phillip Morris.
Morris (played with great emotion and rigor by Ewan McGregor) is a mild-mannered man who, despite his best efforts, falls for the persistent and loving Russell. Once Russell gets out of prison, he spends his days cooking up elaborate schemes to get his partner out of jail, and sometimes he succeeds, for a limited time.
It is Carrey's blend of sensitivity and raw emotional power akin to "The Truman Show," and his over-the-top farcical wit that can best be likened to Liar Liar that gives him the performance of his career. Carrey outshines all others, and the fact he is so prevalent in the marketing is not a mistake. However, trying to cater this film to a younger crowd rather than mature, open-minded cinema lovers was a grand error.
Phillip Morris will be in limited release starting December 3rd, and if you can find it, you simply must see it. However, if you go in expecting "Fun With Dick And Jane," adjust your expectations greatly, and you may just find yourself both laughing and crying with Steven Russell and Phillip Morris.