Directed and Written by Glenn Ficarra and John Requa
Starring: Jim Carrey, Ewan McGregor, Leslie Mann
98 minutes
December, 2010

In his review of this movie, Roger Ebert wrote that if you want to make a movie about Steven Russell, the character who loves Phillip Morris, you need to hire Jim Carrey, someone instantly lovable. I have heard this also said about Robin Williams. I have never found either of these actors lovable. I always detect in them an inner meanness, an undercurrent of darkness that I seldom get past. I think both of them work best in darker films because of this.

PLOT: At eight or so, Steven Russell is told he’s adopted. His personality seems to split into a million pieces on hearing it and for the rest of the movie (and probably his life) he acts like the fractured soul he is. On the straight and narrow path for a while, he marries, has a child, becomes a cop. And then it all comes apart and he adopts the life-style of a flamboyant gay man, and makes his living through cons. We never get to really understand these cons because the movie is not really about plot enough to bother with it.
Obviously this is not what attracted Ficarra and Requa to the project. What the movie is about is flash and dazzle—both in the directing style and in the life of Russell. Especially good is Ewan McGregor, who makes us understand why Russell would go to the lengths he does to hold onto him. Why he would love such an indolent, unintelligent man. He is charming and in their scenes together their relationship zings. But Carrey is just not a good enough actor to not show us glimpses of all the other parts he has played. We see his character from The Grinch, The Cable Guy, Liar, Liar, The Mask. We never get a really fresh face.

I thought Carrey stretched himself in Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind and in The Truman Show when he did not rely on his old tricks, when he created someone new. But in this movie he’s back to his usual antics. This is certainly a watchable movie but not a great one. Seems like I’m saying that a lot lately.

Patti Abbott writes crime fiction short stories. She hosts a look at Forgotten Books every Friday with readers, writers and reviewers at She hopes you’ll join in.