What? He's just hugging his attorney. Don't all prisoners hug their attorneys?I Love You Phillip Morris
is a 2010 dramedy
starring Jim Carrey
and Ewan McGregor
. It follows the true story of Steven Jay Russell
, a con man and serial prison fugitive, and the love of his life, a sweet-natured unlikely inmate named Phillip Morris (no connection to the infamous tobacco company).
When our story begins, Steven (Carrey) is a respected Virginia Beach deputy sheriff with a beautiful wife, Debbie, and an adorable daughter, Steffie. He goes to church every Sunday, does his job well and sexes up his wife on a regular basis. The problem is, he is also secretly gay. When a freak car accident causes him to reevaluate his priorities, Steven comes out of the closet and starts life anew in Florida with his new boyfriend, Jimmy.
However, his extravagant gay lifestyle requires a little extra funding, and he becomes a con man to continue living "high on the gay hog". He is soon discovered, and goes to prison for insurance fraud, where he falls head-over-heels for Phillip Morris (Ewan McGregor
), a shy young blond from Arkansas. So begins a long relationship marked by multiple prison escapes, scams, hardships and magic markers.
I Love you Phillip Morris provides examples of:
- Armor-Piercing Slap: A male-on-male variation. Phillip gives Steven a mighty big slap after Steven fakes his own death to break out of prison (again) and returns to get Phillip out while posing as his lawyer (again). Phillip was never supposed to find out but he did and had an agonising phone call with Steven while he was "dying". Steven admits it was completely justified.
- Batman Gambit: Steven runs several of these to con people in extraordinary ways. Such as managing to convince medical staff he was dying from AIDS.
- Camp Gay: Steven seemed to enthusiastically try to become this. Though he quickly found the lifestyle to be a tad too expensive for him to live on his salary. Cue the crime spree.
- Chekhov's Gun: Phillip's diabetes.
- Cluster F-Bomb: Steven has a unique string of words whilst trying to play golf and Clevon has one when told by the guards to turn off the music (that Phillip asked for).
- Coitus Ensues: The sudden jump cut to Steven having sex with a man. Doubles as Hilarity Ensues.
- Comedic Sociopathy: Steven robs, cons and lies to essentially everyone in his life. With the exception of him lying to Phillip, it's all played for laughs.
- Death by Despair: Steven. Later revealed to be subverted when it turns out it was faked.
- Did Not Get the Girl: An odd variation at least technically Steven does get Phillip but they aren't allowed to be together due to Steven getting an extremely long prison sentence.
- Disproportionate Retribution: it is implied that the reason for the unprecedented severity of Steven's sentence is because his escape was an embarrassment to the state of Texas and Governor Bush, and also because the prosecuting D.A. was his former boss's sister-in-law. Really, that's the only way to explain getting a life sentence with a 23-hour a day lockdown for fraud and prison escapes. A LOT of fraud and MANY prison escapes, but still...
- Dissonant Serenity: Naturally occurs for a love story starting in a prison. Especially notable when Clevon gives his word to play a romantic song to the end; Clavon ends up arguing with a guard who wants the music off, and Phillip and Steven continue dancing even while Clevon ends up getting tased for resisting.
- Downer Ending: Steven gets a life sentence and never sees Philip again.
- Falling in Love Montage
- Foreshadowing: After Steven states he suffered "a lot of personal losses" after Jimmy is seen threatening to leave him, it's implied that they broke up because of it. It later turns out their relationship's end had nothing to do with their separation; Jimmy died of AIDS, yet it rings true that Steven lost him and never got to see him again.
- Funny Background Event
- Get Back in the Closet: The reason for its Development Hell.
- Gossip Evolution: Done through Steven's lawyer joke — despite starting as an Evil Lawyer Joke, the punchline comes back as less funny, and then plain racist.
- Hope Spot: Steven isn't dead from AIDS, and is about to free Phillip by posing as his lawyer again. Cue one of his old colleagues recognizing him as he's attending jury duty, resulting in Steve's lifetime sentence.
- Despite Steven being permanently incarcerated in real life, the movie has a brief pre-credits scene of Steven escaping again.
- I Gave My Word: If you pay Clevon to play a song, he will play it. His word is his muthafuckin' bond, bitch.
- Love at First Sight: Steven for Phillip.
- Love Makes You a Con Man
- MacGyvering: Steven can escape from prison with just about anything: magic markers, women's stretch pants, pain medication, pay phone handsets, you name it.
- Mood Whiplash: Steven's last prison break. It's all fun and games until it turns out Steven is dying of AIDS, and Phillip finds out, and forgives all his terrible behaviour during an incredibly heartwrenching, affecting phone call... and THEN it turns out that Steven actually faked AIDS as part of an elaborate plan to get them both out of prison, and Phillip was never meant to find out. Oops.
- Motif: Clouds, especially penis-shaped ones.
- Naughty by Night: Steven has two sex scenes: one is clumsy, uninteresting marital sex that's well lit; the other is passionate, revealing sex with another man by moonlight.
- "Not Making This Up" Disclaimer: The movie starts with one, and yes, all of this really did happen. Steven Russell and Phillip Morris are real people and are both still alive.
- Ooh, Me Accent's Slipping: Ewan McGregor's actual Scottish accent comes through the Arkansas drawl fairly often.
- Jim Carrey's slips pretty often, too.
- Politically Correct History: Granted it's irrelevant to the plot and still somewhat present, but people generally seem tolerant of gay people for 90's southern America.
- Prison Escape Artist: Steven Jay Russell.
- Refuge in Audacity: Steven's prison-break record runs on this.
- Real Person Cameo: The lawyer stood next to Steven when he's sentenced at the end of the movie is the real Phillip Morris.
- Reveal Shot: This is how Steven "comes out" as gay to the film viewers. He is shown having sex with someone off-screen, which is assumed to be his wife until the camera pans out revealing his sexual partner to be a man.
- Sexy Discretion Shot: Subverted.
- Shout-Out: To Bruce Almighty: "Maybe God's just a kid with a magnifying glass, and I'm just an ant."
- Title Drop: By Steven as he is put on his bus to a higher-security facility.
- Train-Station Goodbye: More like "chase your boyfriend's prison bus while shouting 'I love you's at each other" goodbye, but you know.
- Unreliable Narrator: Steven, the narrator, is always hiding information and lying about information in the voiceover.
- Villain Protagonist: Steven!
- Was It All a Lie?
- What Are You in For?
Phillip: I rented a car. Kept it too long.
Steven: Grand theft?
Phillip: Theft of services.
Steven: Insurance fraud.
Phillip: No, just theft of services.
Steven: No, me, insurance fraud.
- Also at the end of the film when Steven is about to be prosecuted the two guys sitting next to him discuss theirs and Steven tries to escape.
- White Collar Crime: How Steven got sent back to jail the second time. By running company money through non-company bank accounts, he generated huge amounts of interest from shifting cash that was pending transaction.