A highly unusual, yet inspired pairing to say the least. Ewan McGregor starring alongside zany funny man Jim Carrey, a man people seem to either love or hate (I personally have been a big fan since his early days). This is perhaps not the comically mismatched “double-act” movie one may have expected but instead a pleasantly strange contemporary tale of love between two men.
Carrey stars as Steven Russell, a seemingly happy family man whose life is suddenly altered by a car crash. Soon afterwards he ends up in prison where he meets the Phillip Morris of the title (McGregor) and the two form a romance. What follows are a series of events involving scamming and deception which (incredibly) are based on a true story.
The pairing of Carrey and McGregor certainly pays off. Carrey’s character is sure to provoke mixed feelings of genuine hilarity and disgust. His admittedly devious activities (which will make sense as the film develops) combined with his usual comic madness make this one of Carrey’s more interesting characters.
Indeed the main fault with this film is that it does not always seem to know itself which direction it is heading. One minute it pans out like a (certainly funny) screwball comedy with Carrey doing his usual Ace-Ventura style routine, the next it is almost stepping into the “Philadelphia” territory of serious drama. This is all sprinkled with more than a few, admittedly crude, jokes about homosexuality. The overall tone of the film however is certainly that of darker one compared to most of Carrey’s previous work. The opening scene demonstrates this clearly with Steven lying in a hospital bed apparently near to death as he begins narrating the story. As do the brilliantly executed final twenty minutes.
Ewan McGregor’s performance is possibly the superior out of the two however, with his character remaining a confused, yet constantly likeable figure. Carrey, on the other hand, shows that, while he can indeed do drama, it is perhaps the old-school rubber-faced routine that he is best at as this style regularly pops up during the films duration.
That said there are plenty of laughs to be had and the film remains a satisfying, if slightly uneven experience.