I Love You Phillip Morris

I have complicated feelings about Jim Carrey. I really like him in some of his work, but at the same time he's exhausting. He's so high energy that I feel like he uses up all of my energy. As a result his more frenetic movies are my least favorite of his. Up until this week of all of his work that I've seen, I liked the Cable Guy the best. I really enjoyed the chemistry between him and Matthew Broderick.

But this week I watched I Love You Phillip Morris and really enjoyed his performance. Once again I was super confused when I went into a film. I thought this was a movie that's an expose on Big Tobacco which I saw a trailer for several years ago. (Phillip Morris being the name of a tobacco company of course.) But it turned out to be a romantic comedy about two guys who meet in prison.
Jim Carrey plays Steven Russell, who's a police officer at the beginning of the film. He's married and is great father or appears to be a great father at least, and a dedicated family man. But he has a life that we don't know about and after he is in a terrible car accident he decides that he's no longer going to hide who he is and comes out as gay. He rapidly moves to Florida, gets a boyfriend and an extravagant lifestyle to go with it. Unfortunately he doesn't have the money to afford the lifestyle so he does what all borderline sociopaths do and begins a life of crime.

After he's captured and put in jail he meets the title character, Phillip Morris. And that's that; he's head over heels in love. Phillip is played by Ewan McGregor, who is adorable. No wonder Steven is so taken with him. The rest of the film is a breathless series of love scenes, crimes, hoaxes, and prison breaks.

This movie was astonishing to me. I didn't know that it was non-fiction when I watched it and I thought that it was somewhat ridiculous and over the top. Who would ever dream that you can escape from prison by dying a prison uniform a different color and then just walking right out? But it really happened. And that's not even the most insane thing that happens in this film. It's definitely worth a look if for no other reason than you want to know how incredibly incompetent the Texas prison system is, or was.

The film is wildly funny at times and also incredibly sad. I see a lot of things billed as black comedies that aren't very dark at all, but this is fairly dark.

You can watch the trailer here:

One final thought: if you think that there is no way in hell Steven Russell would have been able to impersonate so many people in the judicial system you might want to take a look at this Coursera MOOC: https://www.coursera.org/course/wrongfulconviction It's called Presumed Innocent? The Social Science of Wrongful Conviction and is a horrifying look at the mistakes, miscommunications, misconceptions, flat out lies, intimidation and other elements that result in wrongful convictions. In this class we learned about jailhouse snitches and how they can lighten their sentences by lying about their fellow prisoners. This is shockingly easy, as one inmate proved when he successfully impersonated a whole slew of people as he demonstrated how simple it is to get information that would make it look like the story he was spinning was legit. Be forewarned; it's a deeply depressing class. But it will make you a better informed person and you will notice loads of things in television and film that are being done incorrectly. It will make you a better consumer of media, if nothing else.

In other news I reread Stephen King's The Dark half and could not help comparing Greg Stillson, the horrible politician who needs to be stopped, with a certain politician running for president right now. I thought I could not be the only one thinking this and asked Google. Sure enough, try typing “Greg Stillson and” into Google and you'll see more than one name pop up, including Trump and Cruz.

When the book came out I was still fairly young. I remember the storyline but not that Mr. King includes so many names of then current political figures. I wonder how it reads to someone young enough to have no idea who those people were. Do they Google everyone? Skip over the names? That's probably what I did.

Once again I was impressed by how well Mr. King described the pain of recovering from a terrible accident and physical therapy. Now of course he knows what that is like firsthand after surviving and recovering from a horrible accident. But that accident was still far far in the future when he wrote the Dead Zone. As someone who has dislocated her shoulder, broken both her wrists, fractured her spine, had surgery on both knees, etc etc etc, I can tell you that he's dead on with his descriptions of pain and struggling with physical disabilities.

And all that aside the novel is still an excellent adventure story. I'm planning to reread all of Stephen King's books in this upcoming year. I've reread the Shining, the Running Man, the Stand, Salem's Lot and Fire Starter recently. So far I'm enjoying the ride.

One final thought on the Dead Zone. I would be very interested in someone doing a compare and contrast with his book 11/22/63. Both of them are essentially the same story or at least the same predicament. If you know that a terrible political thing is going to happen, and you have the ability to stop it, is it your moral responsibility to do something about it? And if so, can you do it practically?

Bonus Treat:
What do Hannah Montana, a massive beard, a raccoon and biting have in common? This week's bonus treat is a video that brings it all together. It is one of the weirder things I've seen recently; which is saying a lot. And yes, it is funny.