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Movie Review

I Love You Phillip Morris

MPAA Rating: R for sexual content including strong dialogue, and language.
Extremely Offensive
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Moviemaking Quality:

Primary Audience:
Comedy Drama Adaptation
1 hr. 38 min.
Year of Release:
USA Release:
December 3, 2010 (NY, LA, SF—6 theaters), Expansion through December
DVD: April 5, 2011
Copyright, Consolidated Pictures Group click photos to ENLARGE Copyright, Consolidated Pictures Group Copyright, Consolidated Pictures Group Copyright, Consolidated Pictures Group Copyright, Consolidated Pictures Group Copyright, Consolidated Pictures Group Copyright, Consolidated Pictures Group Copyright, Consolidated Pictures Group Copyright, Consolidated Pictures Group Copyright, Consolidated Pictures Group
Relevant Issues
Copyright, Consolidated Pictures Group

HOMOSEXUALITY—What’s wrong with being gay? Answer
Homosexual behavior versus the Bible: Are people born gay? Does homosexuality harm anyone? Is it anyone’s business? Are homosexual and heterosexual relationships equally valid?

What about gays needs to change? Answer
It may not be what you think.

Read stories about those who have struggled with homosexuality

Adoption in the Bible

Sin and the Bible

Thieves in the Bible: Theft, Robbery, The two thieves

Prisons in the Bible

Featuring: Jim Carrey (Steven Russell), Ewan McGregor (Phillip Morris), Leslie Mann (Debbie), Rodrigo Santoro (Jimmy Kemple), Nicholas Alexander (Steven’s Brother), Michael Beasley (Prison Release Guard), Tony Bentley (Racist client), Allen Boudreaux (Harris County Sheriff Deputy), Sean Boyd (Policeman), Brennan Brown (Larry Bukheim), more »
Director: Glenn Ficarra, John Requa
Producer: Europa Corp. (as EuropaCorp), Mad Chance, Luc Besson, Jeffrey Harlacker, Andrew Lazar, Richard Middleton, Far Shariat, Miri Yoon
Distributor: Consolidated Pictures Group

If you can imagine the friend-starved-oddball that Jim Carrey portrayed in “The Cable Guy” and combine that character with the congenital prevaricator he played in “Liar, Liar” and add a dose of the cunning-carefree-sleuth he depicted in “Ace Ventura,” well, then you’ve just been introduced to a picture of Steven Russell (Jim Carrey) , the con artist who believed his own words when he yelled out, “I love you Phillip Morris” during a scene in the movie where he’s being separated from Phillip (Ewan McGregor) and transferred to another prison.

Warning! If you think by watching this film you’d just be getting another hilarious Jim Carrey character, think again! It wasn’t funny. How this film received an “R” rating is a mystery. NC-17 would have been a more appropriate rating if the MPAA board had done its job. From simulated anal intercourse scenes to oral sex scenes (intimated) and make-out sessions between Carrey and McGregor, it seemed that at some point early on in the film it crossed over from a “drama, romance, and comedy” (as it is billed) to a Gay-themed film—that bordered soft core porn.

If there has ever been a film that defines the adage “art imitating life,” then this might be the one. Typically, Hollywood might be creating wildly improbable scripts like this, but in this case, writers (“Bad Santa”) John Requa and Glenn Ficarra (who also directed), simply wrote a screenplay based on a true story of “life, love, and prison breaks” written originally in book form by journalist-reporter Steve McVicker. You couldn’t make up the events that happened in this film, because no one would believe them. That’s what makes the movie sort of attention-grabbing on the surface—the thought that someone (Carrey) could swindle companies out of millions of dollars and break free from prison 3 times (and always on Friday the 13th) only to be caught again each time he tried to free Phillip Morris (Ewan McGregor) from prison or be reunited with him. The fact that Steven Russell (Carrey) was a homosexual, who allegedly fell in love with this fellow inmate named Phillip Morris (no relation to the cigarette company) was almost incidental to his role as a grifter and con artist. At some point, the film tried to be a love story with attempts at being funny. The problem was, once the film revealed the characters, either the self-obsessed and deceitful Russell or the gullible, enabling Morris, it just left a huge void. Their personal character faults created the lives they were living in that moment, and no amount of storytelling could make the viewer feel sorry for them, especially for Russell. I don’t remember shedding any tears for Bonnie or Clyde when they got caught in the end of that film.

Which leads me to my second point: don’t believe everything you read. After seeing the film the first time over a year ago, this past month at the Palm Springs International Film Festival, I wondered how closely the script played to the book. So I ordered it from Amazon. The movie was fairly accurate, sometimes down to exact details or quotes as McVicker had recorded them. The problem with the story as a whole is that much of it was told directly to McVicker by Russell via direct prison interviews or through correspondence, and given Russell’s penchant for lying—the veracity of much of this story remains in question for this reviewer, particularly the parts that couldn’t be corroborated by the author.

The way the book reads is much like the film is presented. Lots of flashbacks are used, and the story is told in a somewhat disjointed, but matter-of-fact manner. In the book, McVicker used 3rd person to tell the story. In the film, the directors use Carrey’s “voice-over” in 1st person narration through many of the rambling montages of his “life on the run,” interrupted only by real time action and dialogue. This may have been their attempt to lessen the emotional distance from the characters that can normally occur when reading a biographical-interview-type novel, and help the film audience better relate to Russell—when hearing him tell his story first hand. But as stated earlier, it’s hard to care about con artists, so—the emotional gulf remained intact.

Objectionable content

There is so much to include that it would take pages to type it all out. I waited a year to submit this review, because I was not sure the version I saw at the film festival last year would be the same one released in the theaters this year—and I didn’t want to make references to items which may have been edited out. Unfortunately, everything that was shockingly objectionable during my first viewing was still present in this recent one.

As I stated in the opening paragraph, the MPAA rating for this was definitely wrong. In years gone by, this film would have been Rated XXX. This is an extremely sexually charged film. The sexual scenes I mentioned in the beginning of this review were just a few of many others throughout the film, too numerous to mention. They include more oral sex scenes, bare buttocks in the men’s prison shower scene, and countless sexual innuendoes or overt sexual talk that includes one scene where Steven is giving a new prison cellmate a tour and showing him the ropes, while making 6 verbal references to “sucking a guy’s d*ck” within about 30 seconds.

The area of profanity is also extreme. At least 56 “f” words (6 used with “mother,” 2 used sexually), 11 “s” words, 11 slang terms using male genitals (“c*ck,” “c*cks*cker,” “d*ck” and “wiener'), 2 slang terms using female genitals (“p*ssy” and “tw*t”), 13 asses (4 used with “hole”), 7 hells, 3 S.O.B.s, 2 cr*ps, 1 damn, 4 uses of “Oh my G*d,” 2 of “Swear to G*d” and 1 use each of “G-damn,” “Jesus,” and “Oh G*d.” (This is not in the book.)

Even the area of violence is moderately heavy in prison fights, car accidents, arrests, and concocted injury accidents that Steven recreates to defraud insurance companies.

Finally, this film has a blatant gay worldview with the added feature of subtle slams at those who hold a Christian worldview, built right into the script with lines like: “Gotta go, it’s Jesus on the other line.” (Russell talking with his ex-wife) or when the taxi cab driver asks a smirking Russell, “Do you mind if I tell you the Word of the Lord Jesus Christ?”

I do NOT recommend this film under any circumstances. This story has been told before, and it is utterly predictable. The difference is the gay subplot with extreme profanity and sex scenes added to the 10th power—to the point of poisoning the story. The acting seems unnatural for Carrey, although McGregor is convincing in his role.

Overall, this story is a sad reflection on the human condition. At one point Steven is narrating “There I was again, living a lie—keeping secrets,” hiding the truth from the supposed love of his life, Phillip Morris. That is the core of the film. Steven Russell is bound by his lies and there appears to be no hope for him. He thinks he knows what love is when he saysto Phillip, “I know I love you, because I recognize the feeling of love. It’s like 600 volts going between us. Don’t deny it. I know you can feel it.” Even then he is running a con.

Unfortunately, the real life Steven Russell (still alive in a Texas prison) hasn’t yet seen his misappropriated use of the term “love” nor has he any regrets for his past deeds. At the end of the book he states:

“The mistakes I made when I’ve been captured were all tied to emotion instead of the brain God gave me. That won’t happen again. The cops don’t understand that I escape when I make up my mind to escape.”

Perhaps some Christians reading this review some day might add their prayer to mine, “that God may grant him repentance” so that he might hear the gospel and be saved. That would be an escape worth making.

Violence: Moderate / Profanity: Extreme / Sex/Nudity: Extreme

lies and the truth


HOMOSEXUALITY—What’s wrong with being gay? Answer

What about gays needs to change? Answer

See list of Relevant Issues—questions-and-answers.

Viewer CommentsSend your comments


Negative—To help you frame the objectivity of this review, I should tell you that I am not opposed to watching rated R movies, but I understand why some may have different convictions. The point is, I am not easily shocked—I mean it—few things bother me. HOWEVER, this movie was so over the top, that after reading this site for about 7 years, I am posting my first comment.

I really, really, realllllly think you should think twice about seeing it—the sexual content, while not shown, is of such a graphic nature—there is an anal sex scene, complete with a description of what it happening in nauseating detail—complete with sound effects of skin hitting skin very hard ('nuff said?)… the language (again, I’m not terribly bothered by 25-30 F-bombs in a movie, even some nudity) is verrrry explicit… I’m disappointed that the filmmakers took the story in the direction they did, it could have been a great story otherwise. Seriously, skip it—I literally woke up in my sleep and found myself automatically repenting for having viewed the film.
My Ratings: Moral rating: Extremely Offensive / Moviemaking quality: 4½
—DP, age 38 (USA)
Negative—I made the mistake of borrowing this from the library based on the description they gave. Boy, was I disappointed. As we got further into the movie, we turned it off in disgust! I would not recommend this to anyone! The homosexuality, dialogue and premise of “love” are all non-biblical.
My Ratings: Moral rating: Extremely Offensive / Moviemaking quality: 1
—Kathy, age 41 (USA)
Negative—…I must say: that was, in its” first 15 min., one of the funniest comic moments of Carrey’s career; and in the remainder, an intensely vile piece of work rarely seen from Hollywood. It is epic, in the sense that, as far as I know, the American film industry has yet to flagrantly cast an actor of Mr. Carrey’s cost and caliper into the realm of gross pandering to the “gay” lifestyle through the acting profession.

I am absolutely dumbfounded as I look at this world around us, where poverty, drug addiction, diseases, catastrophes, wars, etc. are surrounding us, and we, as a society, are seemingly and single-handedly embracing moral chaos by watching these movies, peering at Internet sites, blogs, “social networking” and pursuing the accumulation of things. If you believe in order and goodness in western society, how can you accept the viscous attack on it without airing grievances like these? The question becomes… “How long must this go down as such.
My Ratings: Moral rating: Extremely Offensive / Moviemaking quality: 3
—Joseph Kantz, age 42 (United Kingdom)
Comments from non-viewers
Neutral—I couldn’t even read the review—so offended just by the premise of this movie. Why would anyone claiming to love Christ find humor in something pertaining to this subject matter. I hope no one is watching this without a heavy heart. Couldn’t pay me to watch it.
My Ratings: Moral rating: / Moviemaking quality:
—Kev, age 28 (Canada)