I LOVE YOU PHILLIP MORRIS – What were they smoking?

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By Seán Martinfield
Sentinel Editor and Publisher
Photo by Lynn Imanaka

I LOVE YOU PHILLIP MORRIS, now playing at the AMC Loews Metreon, is a washed-out, stretched-out mish-mash of a story “ripped from the headlines” based on the so-so book by journalist Steve McVicker. The adventure is based on fact and would seem to be the perfect vehicle for Jim Carrey as “Steven Russell” a typically charming con artist who vaults himself from prison-to-prison, a couple of corporate executive seats, a functioning career as a lawyer without a license, a variety of naive and passive sexual partners, while financing it all with insurance monies gained from staged injuries, great and small con schemes, and a wallet full of fake IDs. His ultimate quest? To live happily ever after with “Phillip Morris” (Ewan McGregor), his one-time blonde air-head cuddly prison cell mate.

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JIM CARREY (Steven Russell) and EWAN McGREGOR (Phillip Morris)

The problem with the film is that – underneath the various episodes and locales and all the challenges and characters each of them contain – it’s all so horribly superficial, predictable, stylistically inconsistent, and occasionally offensive. The film’s co-directors – when did “co-directors” become a good idea? – Glenn Ficarra and John Requa have no previous directorial credits. What they share in common are writing credits for Bad Santa and Bad News Bears. What does this say about comedian Jim Carrey?

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EWAN McGREGOR — JIM CARREY

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RODRIGO SANTORO (“Jimmy”) and JIM CAREY

At best, Carrey’s inherent appeal, rubber-faced grimacing and agile physicality are enough to sustain the viewer through the prolonged and improbable but sort-of-true chapters concerning a late-to-the-party gay man’s quest for a stable relationship – even though it won’t happen until each is released and, presumably, still interested. In the meantime, life behind bars and barbed wire is one jolly long mutually-complicit suck & f**k fest for everything from chewing gum to hardbound law books. Steven goes on to convince the prison medics he has AIDS. Now, there’s a knee slapper. He deliberately loses 40 pounds, signs his own death certificate, somehow Phillip think he’s dead – and no one in the whole Texas State Prison System ever administered an AIDS test.

Sparing more graphic details, I Love You Phillip Morris is just too damn much to swallow.

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JIM CARREY — EWAN McGREGOR

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Seán Martinfield
Sentinel Editor and Publisher
Seán Martinfield, who also serves as Fine Arts Critic, is a native San Franciscan. He is a Theatre Arts Graduate from San Francisco State University, a professional singer, and well-known private vocal coach to Bay Area actors and singers of all ages and persuasions. His clients have appeared in Broadway National Tours including Wicked, Aïda, Miss Saigon, Rent, Bye Bye Birdie, in theatres and cabarets throughout the Bay Area, and are regularly featured in major City events including Diva Fest, Gay Pride, and Halloween In The Castro. As an Internet consultant in vocal development and audition preparation he has published thousands of responses to those seeking his advice concerning singing techniques, professional and academic auditions, and careers in the Performing Arts. Mr. Martinfield’s Broadway clients have all profited from his vocal methodology, “The Belter’s Method”. If you want answers about your vocal technique, post him a question on AllExperts.com. If you would like to build up your vocal performance chops and participate in the Bay Area’s rich theatrical scene, e-mail him at: sean.martinfield@comcast.net.

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