Sunday 21 March 2010

Review: I Love you Phillip Morris

Year: 2009 (U.K release 2010)
Director: Glenn Ficarra, John Requa
Screenplay: Glenn Ficarra John Requa
Starring: Jim Carrey, Ewan McGregor

Plot synopsis is here

I was a little surprised that I Love You Phillip Morris has come out in England before the U.S. There was a strange moment of British smugness over the fact that we got a Jim Carrey movie first over the yanks. I don't know why but it felt like some sort of achievement. However I wasn't too surprised by the film itself. Despite some interesting elements, this "serious" Carrey venture is as bland as vanilla ice cream with cardboard sprinkles. Those who have their wits around them will have guessed the films ending in the first two seconds; this wouldn't be to much of a problem if the film didn't have such a meandering plot, uneven tone and in my opinion; not much laughs.

It's not so much the fault of the actors, as Jim Carrey and Ewan McGregor do the best they can with the material given to them. Carrey's performance reminded me how strong his comic timing can be, while McGregor hasn't been this interesting in ages, playing up to the nativity of the character. The trouble seems to be in the films direction. The films play on standard Hollywood rom-coms is honorable but boring as we get scene after scene which do nothing to elevate the emotion we're supposed to feel about the two characters. The film isn't humorous enough to give us the connection we need and so when it suddenly flips on the audience and goes for it's serious moments, the lack the punch to make them effective.

It's a shame because co-directors (writers of Bad Santa) actually do a good job with the central romance, as the film does as much as possible to play the relationship as straight (heh) as possible. It would be be possible to re-write the film as a heterosexual rom-com with little or no issue at all and does well to say that gay people are just as nuts as straight people. Brokeback Mountain this is not, what we have are normal people in a supposedly extraordinary situation. Unfortunately it's way too ordinary to elicit any more than a passing interest.

The film appears to be in a constant struggle with itself, undecided if it wants to be a board comedy, a more subtle affair or something dramatic, annoyingly there are scenes that seem to suggest that this could have been a character study of sorts, but these virtually ignored from the start. The struggle leaves us with a stalemate, a Jekyll and Hyde of a tale with isolated moments of entertainment that are almost lost in the mediocrity that surrounds them

Looking at the IMDB I happen to be in the minority and that's fine, I can deal with that, it's happened before and as always I'm happy that others found something in a film that I didn't. However, I do find it quite surprising that so much got so much out of such a schizophrenic movie that tries far too hard to be loved by everyone but will not win over any Carrey haters let alone those with a casual interest to film. I have to say however the films view on homosexuals will no doubt infuriate some of the more insane followers of the bible belt...once again the smugness rises.