I Love You Phillip Morris (2009)
"I Love You, Phillip Morris!" shouts Jim Carrey in the character of Steven Russell about halfway into this 'slice-of-an-extraordinary-life' film. He has just conned and stolen his way into jail, and there he has met the love of his life: the naïve and lovable Phillip. In the process, Russell has gone from closet homosexual to the extreme version of living it out, but we soon learn that little has changed otherwise in his life. The charismatic and highly intelligent man is addicted to lying and conning people.
As always when playing a straight role (pun intended), Jim Carrey is amiable and charming, albeit not particularly convincing in the most emotional scenes. His persona fits the tone that directors Ficarra and Requa set for their film, choosing a somewhat distanced and filtered angle to portraying a life which arguably has had more tragedy and frustration in it than what is perceived here. With that said, Carrey and the filmmakers make it clear that what Steven Russell does is not something he does out of malice, but simply because he cannot stop himself. As a matter of fact, he chooses to see his deeds as romantic, as something he does for his boyfriend, Phillip Morris, whom - as the title states - he simply loves. Trouble is, the film doesn't recognize their relationship as love; the romantic bits tend to focus more on sex than on romance.
Despite fairly good performances and a story about a man who actually seem more interesting than what Ficarra/Requa gives him credit for, this gay version of Catch Me If You Can occasionally shoots itself in the foot. That is, it wants the gay perspective to be intelligent and respectful, but still cannot keep itself from making the character's sexuality the target of rather cheap comedic shots. The result is a film that is quite fun, but surprisingly lightweight, considering the subject matter.