Giving an entire new meaning to the notion of physical comedy in a movie, Jim Carrey appears to be getting his groove on with uncommonly fierce homoerotic relish, in the jailhouse biopic, I Love You Phillip Morris.
The subject of this creative conman caper is long legendary Steven Russell, currently serving a 144 year prison sentence in Texas for using at least fourteen aliases over the years to commit fraud and massive amounts of theft.
Including a menu of identities as judge, lawyer, physician, corporate executive, FBI agent and cop. But perhaps most of all, receiving a draconian penalty for embarrassing George Bush by escaping from custody four times in five years – for which he earned the name Houdini – and pretty astonishingly always on a Friday the 13th.
Jim Carrey dives into his role as the man also known as King Con, with manic gay gusto. Or at least eventually. Married and working as a small town cop, Russell joins the force solely to steal confidential files in order to track down his birth mother who rejects him once again. And who had apparently sold him to an adoptive couple in a parking lot.
At the same time Russell is on the down low, surreptitiously cruising for gay stranger sex whenever possible. But following a car crash, Russell saunters out of the closet for good and leaves his understanding wife.
Relocating to Texas and turning to corporate white collar fraud and embezzlement by impersonating multiple professions he’s never had, the increasingly flamboyant and boisterous fraudster is seemingly conning himself as well.
That is, by rationalizing that for some unfathomable reason, sustaining a gay lifestyle and lovers requires huge amounts of cash.
And during one of numerous incarcerations, Russell encounters and courts the shy, effeminate Phillip Morris. And though their romantically tinged love affair blossoms effortlessly behind bars, Russell’s fanatical resolve to repeatedly break laws so as to free both of them and then live as extravagantly as possible, eventually leads a disgusted Morris to cut him loose.
Written and directed appropriately enough by those Bad Santa creative co-conspirators Glenn Ficarra and John Requa and based on the novel by former Houston Chronicle investigative reporter Steve McVicker, I Love You Phillip Morris engages and mystifies throughout, however bizarre.
A rather sordid tale kept buoyant and energized in no small part by Carrey’s never disappointing lunatic antics, even if Mcgregor seems too self-conscious to fully get into lusting after Carrey.
And while some baffled critics have openly pondered whether this is a trickster comedy or a gay love story, isn’t that really all beside the point. Hey, it’s a funny as hell heist hijinks romp though in a weirdly offbeat sort of way, no matter what the characters’ sexual preferences may be.