I Love You Phillip Morris (15)

Carrey back to his livewire best as a gay conman who can't go straight
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The Independent Culture

When you hear that Jim Carrey is starring in a film called I Love You Phillip Morris, you might guess that Carrey is playing Phillip Morris. He isn't. Ewan McGregor has the title role, while Carrey is Steven Russell, a fraudster who romances the mild-mannered Morris when he meets him in a Texan prison. It's hard to imagine almost any of Carrey's peers taking the role, and not just because of all the smooching that he and McGregor do. Written and directed by the screenwriters of Bad Santa, the film has enough swearing, semi-nudity, outrageous black comedy, and – bravest of all – cleverness to make most A-listers run a mile.

Another reason why it's so hard to imagine anyone else in the role is that it's the best match for Carrey's live-wire persona in quite some time, especially in the hilarious opening scenes. Based on a con artist's scarcely believable true story, the film pinballs through Russell's life as a married policeman in Georgia, then a flamboyant gay confidence trickster in Florida, then a recidivist who keeps breaking out of jail by pretending to be a lawyer, a doctor, an accountant or a judge.

As you can tell, I thought I was going to love I Love You Phillip Morris. But its initial headlong velocity peters out around the eighth time Russell escapes from jail, and it becomes clear that we're getting an anthology of unconnected anecdotes: lots of stories, but no story. One of the pitfalls inherent in any biopic is that while movies require their heroes to learn from their mistakes and fulfil their noble goals, not many of us do that in real life. Pathologically deceitful repeat offenders do it even less than most.