Friday, 11 March 2011


Directors: Glenn Ficarra & John Requa
Running time: 94 mins (approx)
Certification (UK): 15

Genre: Comedy/Drama
UK Release date: 17th March 2010

Watched on Sky+ Friday 11th March 2011.


This is a film I never thought I’d see… It’s really not my kind of thing. But it has been recommended several times, even by respected critics, and so when it came up on TV I thought I’d better give it a watch. There are some good performances and it works quite well as a comedy, but I found it more tragic than anything else. I will explain that later, but here’s a brief summary first (summary haters and those that don’t wish to know anything about the plot please help that guy over the wall while I write the next paragraph).

At the beginning of the film Steven Russell is a happily married cop with a beautiful wife, Deb, and a daughter. He is keeping a secret from them and, after a traffic accident; he decides to let it all out… He’s gay (hope that’s not a spoiler!). He leaves Deb and begins to live a life of excess, but as he soon discovers, ‘being gay is really expensive!’ This doesn’t deter Steven; he begins a series of scams and cons in order to finance his new found freedom. Unfortunately, there are consequences and eventually these catch up with him and he ends up in jail. There he meets the soft-spoken Phillip Morris and instantly falls in love with him. When they are released from jail the pair lives together and Steven gets a job… But he is keeping a secret from Phillip… I’ll leave it there in the interests of not giving spoilers away.

Based on a true story, and obviously a lot of poetic licence, I found this film entertaining at times, but also quite tragic. It was tragic in that the Steven Russell character finds it so hard to stop himself from conning people and no effort is made to stop him, or at least rehabilitate him. Even his lover doesn’t seem to recognise that he has a serious problem. Or maybe I’m just reading too much into it… Performance wise, Jim Carrey did a great job as Steven Russell, he’s bold, brash and everything you’d expect from Carrey. He does show he can do the dramatic stuff too, there are hints of the excellent work he did in The Truman Show (1998) and Man on the Moon (1999). I hardly recognised Ewan McGregor as Phillip Morris; he puts in the best performance in the film (IMO). Honourable mentions go to Leslie Mann as Deb and Rodrigo Santoro as Jimmy.

So, over all, it’s quite an entertaining film, in parts, but one that just didn’t quite hang together (for me). I felt the cons came too much to the fore and the relationship between Steven Russell and Phillip Morris became secondary. At the end of the day I didn’t quite believe the love story and so all that Steven Russell did just became ‘crazy antics’. Having said that, it’s still quite watchable… but not one I’ll watch again… Recommended, but just for one viewing.

My score: 6.3/10

(RT = Rotten Tomatoes)
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