Yes, Jim Carrey is a surprisingly good dramatic actor. No, we don’t know why he doesn’t do it more often. Is his performance reason enough to see I Love You Phillip Morris? Not really. The film, based on the true story of a Texas con man who escaped from jail four times to be with the man he loved, can’t decide whether it’s a jaunty farce or a serious character study. The fact that Steven Russell (Carrey) is such an effective liar undermines the believability of his romance with the preposterously named Phillip Morris (Ewan McGregor), a rather dimwitted but sweet-natured fellow inmate. After being transferred to a different prison and separated from his beloved, Steven escapes, then poses as a lawyer to secure Phillip’s release. When he gets thrown back in jail, he comes up with an outrageous scheme to be reunited with his love. But does he really love Phillip, or just the thrill of outwitting the law? (The real Steven is currently serving a 144-year sentence.) The movie wants us to overlook its implausibility by insisting that it’s all true. We believe it, we just don’t care.
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