Tag Archives: Leslie Mann

I Love You Phillip Morris

This is one of those movies you don’t think much of when you see it first released, but comes back to surprise you. I had no idea how much homosexuality, adult themes, and gay sex would be portrayed in this film. At all. I sat up late the night I watched this, clutching my pillow, wondering if Ace Ventura was really kissing Obi-Wan. It’s not that I’m opposed to the lifestyle and part of the sexual spectrum these characters lay on. It’s just so surprising to see how committed actors can be to a role they’re given. And it can turn out to be the best of performances.

In I Love You Phillip Morris, Steven Jay Russell (portrayed by Jim Carrey) is a local police man and loving husband to his wife, Debbie (Leslie Mann) and daughter. The

Carrey and Mann, a loving couple?

only thing he can’t get over is that his mother gave him up for adoption when he was a baby. In search of his true mother, he finds that she gave him up… and kept her other children.

With his life’s dream fulfilled and ruined all in one fell swoop, Russell is involved in a bad car accident, changing his life around. He resolves to live his life the way he wanted to for so long. And that life he will pursue will be as a gay man. I thought the first angle of this movie, never having read the accounts of Stephen Jay Russell or anything related, was going to be about him being a con man. I didn’t realize he was going to find his homosexual roots before he met Phillip Morris in jail, but that was just my movie plotline brain buzzing. All the more power to him, because his cons and jail escapes were unbelievably top notch.

A little bit of the lavish life for a pair of gay men.

So Russell meets other men, some sexual interaction (AKA butt sex. I must add this scene, although dramatized, shocked the shit out of me.) and he meets his Latino boyfriend, Jimmy (Rodrigo Santoro). After his losing bout with AIDS, Russell goes for one last big haul, and gets himself thrown in jail. But that wasn’t before trying to escape in the only way he knew how. Con city, bro.

While in jail, Russell meets Phillip Morris (Ewan McGregor). The gentle and noble disposition of Morris changes something in Russell’s deceiving nature changes. He looks out for someone other than his

The moment they meet. In jail. How touching.

own interests and finds true love in a world that had given up on him and his ways. It is at this point that Russell will do anything in order to get Phillip Morris out of jail and to make a stable life for the both of them. As luxurious as that may come off…

What overall impressed me about this film were Jim Carrey and Ewan McGregor’s performances. They were so convincing as a loving couple onscreen that you had to root for them, even if one of them was a con man. The kisses felt real, the holding and touching was that of a chemistry ridden couple. And by couple, I mean just any kind of couple. Gay, bisexual, straight, biracial, you name it, they showed the characteristics of two people in love. By the end of the movie, no matter how homophobic the person watching may be, you came to like and accept Russell and Morris for who they are. That’s something that can cross all lines when it comes to the world of movies.

Some of that steamy man love.

The other thing that I loved about this movie were the cons. And based on real cons, as far as I can see. This entire movie was based on Steve McVicker’s novel about Steven Jay Russell’s life entitled, I Love You Phillip Morris: A True Story of Life, Love, and Prison Breaks. These cons are so well played out that you could only believe they would work in the movies. Or, in this case, Texas or one of the Southern states. Yes, a slight against Southerners from the liberal movie makers, who knew? But how well and entertaining they were to watch one right after the other. You felt shame for the law enforcers and businessmen by the end of the film for being so able to be swindled.

This movie takes a whole new approach to the con man, and to relationships in general. How far would one of us go to break their love out of jail? To risk it all one something illegal in order to see their love happy and smiling? That is exactly what Stephen Jay Russell did. And the end of the movie let’s us know that he is serving a life sentence under constant surveillance, while Phillip Morris was finally let out in 2006. This movie of the con man, set in the 1980’s and 90’s, really explores an era that was exploring itself. This movie shows the liberation of the man from his chains, both

Good form.

literally and symbolically. And Jim Carrey gave one of his best quirky drama performances in a long time. I love all of his work, and this is another title to notch in his bedpost. Gay con artist. A well deserved 8.8 out of 10.

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The Change-Up: Surprisingly Heartwarming

From the producers and directors of The Hangover and Wedding Crashers, I expected something a bit different from this movie. I expected the ridiculous situations and grossout comedy duo that has been spewing out of Hollywood since Judd Apatow took up The 40 Year Old Virgin. Something a bit different was sent my way. An outrageous comedy… with a sentimental side. As shocking as that may sound, this 2 hour film had the time to flesh out a relationship to the characters and the concern for the well being of their lives. And coming from a pair of true gold comedy actors (that have the capacity for more than comedy), this movie does deliver well. More so on plot and acting than lines and delivery.

So Dave Lockwood (Jason Bateman) is a married man. He married young and

Two men. Two varying lives.

has a beautiful young daughter and a strange pair of infant twins. Meanwhile, Dave’s friend Mitch Planko (Ryan Reynolds) is a single man, banging all he sees and loving living in his own filth and depravity. Although the two remain friends, they have grown apart somewhat since their lifestyles have taken them away from each other. Dave is a successful lawyer at a major corporation and Mitch is a semi-successful actor. The two’s lives aren’t close to perfect, but they enjoy their situations.

Until one day.

 

So who's who?

Dave and Mitch get together, breaking their routines to catch up on old times and catch a baseball game at a local bar. While there, the two get a little more wasted than ususal. Things are talked about and emotions run high. And then, BAM. Freaky Friday hits like a storm as the two piss into a fountain. By the plot Gods, this seems all too familiar. And yet, it’s the male perspective on the idea of taking a walk in another’s shoes. Word, I can dig that. With the fountain moved (classic Big situation), the two have to live each other’s lives for a while, and re-discover themselves through each other’s eyes.

What really stood out to me about this film was how well Jason Bateman

They play each other. To a tee.

played Ryan Reynolds and how well Ryan Reynolds played Jason Bateman. It’s more the generational issue in Freaky Friday, but in this one it’s more of a body swap of men of the same age. Different habits and personalities are mirrored in this comedy down to, what I would say, is a tee. The anal-retentiveness of Bateman pairs off with the ridiculously callous antics of Reynolds. Having to talk to yourself as the other person was pretty key in this movie, and it was pulled off with a-bomb. (Niceeee.)

Word.

In classic fashion, this movie starts off with some poop jokes and some strange combinations of swear words. (F-knuckles? Are you kidding me?) I’ve started to dislike the invention of swear-catch-phrases as I’ll call them, and this needs to be remedied with some great pop culture references and such, a-la Workaholics (can’t wait to rave about that shizz). The movie moves along with some classic situations and works along with quite a few nudie shots for the guy audience. I watched the unrated version. And yet, I was surprised that, despite not being directed by Judd Apatow, his wife, Leslie Mann, played a part in this movie anddd showed off the goods. It was as┬ástrange as it was comical.

And then you get hit with the friend moving along in life montage, followed by, BAM. 45 minutes of touching connection. Did you see this coming? Nope. Could you imagine Ryan Reynolds in Jason Bateman’s body pulling off

This movie will get touching.

pretending to be a lawyer by watching Law & Order? Not at all. But this all happens. And, in the realm of strange, quirky fantasy, it works. For the first time ever, I connected with Leslie Mann as a decent actress. Coming from a woman who always plays the comical stuck up bitch, this was refeshing. Some “true” tears were shed and the perfect balance of drama and comedy was achieved. From a movie made by The Hangover and Wedding Crasher guys. Weird…

Sorry guys, just for the eye candy. Don't know about that substance...

I gotta say, if this is in the original version and not the edited, there are some great comedy scenes in this movie. Watch out for the twins, that’s a great bit. And Ryan Reynolds’ acting career as it were? That’s what I’m talking about. Every time he pops up, whether it be Cinderella Man or Scary Movie 4, Craig Bierko delivers. This time as a Russian porn star director. What’s good. There are some great lines from Jason Bateman (while being possessed by Ryan Reynolds) and quite a few attractive women in this movie. Not a big fan of Olivia Wilde’s acting though… she’s just an eye candy actress… (Sorry if that offends…)

So, if you’re into dramatic movies, this one will surprise you. If you’re into comedies of the outlandish sort, this movie will please and appease you. With such a satisfying mix with only a few big name actors putting their names on the bill, this really delivers. And yes, this is the Year of the Bateman. Jason Bateman. Solid 8.6 out of 10.

Can you handle the Bateman?