Despite its title, this movie has nothing to do with cigarettes. But its star, as he once famously said on screen, is absolutely 'smokin'."
Jim Carrey is the narrator, heart and soul of "I Love You Phillip Morris," transforming what could have been a cliched con man comedy, generic Jim Carrey-character comedy or run-of-the-mill gay coming-out comedy into something smarter, sweeter and downright giddy. This long-shelved romp is a real Carrey showcase, one that shouldn't wear the stigma "damaged goods" simply because it took an absurdly long time — it was at Sundance in January 2009 — to reach theaters.
Carrey plays Steven Russell, a one-time cop, married man and father who lives a secret double life until that day when a bad car wreck sends him over the edge.
"I'm gay," he babbles on the EMT's gurney. "Gay gay gay gay gay gay gay."
But out of the closet, Steven gleefully cruises Miami. The con man in him comes to the fore when he makes one unpleasant discovery about his new, free-wheeling lifestyle.
"Bein' gay is expensive," he drawls.
Steven weasels his way into work in Texas, where he shows his gift for living a lie — many lies. But it's when he gets caught and sent to prison that he truly thrives and meets his dreamboat, Phillip Morris, played with a drawling delicacy by Ewan McGregor.
The bulk of the story concerns Steven's efforts to be close to Phillip, to (once they're out of jail) provide an opulent life for Phillip and stay one step ahead of those who might find him out in his various hustled jobs.
It's a tribute to McGregor that his trademark sparkle makes us believe that a nut like Steven would fall for him and go to the ends of the Earth to earn and keep his love. And it is Carrey, turning his patented shtick loose on a role with heart, substance and entertainment value, who makes this romantic farce a movie too good to sit on any studio's shelf.