I Love You Phillip Morris

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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.


Tropes used in I Love You Phillip Morris include:
  • 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 agonizing phone call with Steven while he was "dying". Steven admits it was completely justified.
  • 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.
  • 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).
  • 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.
  • 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.
  • Dissonant Serenity: It doesn't matter if they're in prison, and guards are loudly fighting screaming prisoners. There's a lovely song playing, and they feel like dancing.
  • Downer Ending: Steven gets a life sentence and never sees Philip again.
  • "Falling in Love" Montage
  • Foreshadowing: Surprisingly, even the smallest of dialogue reveals quite a lot:
  • Funny Background Event
  • Get Back in the Closet: The reason for its Development Hell.
  • 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 behavior during an incredibly heart-wrenching, 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.
  • "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.
  • Real Person Cameo: The lawyer stood next to Stephen when he's sentenced at the end of the movie is the real Phillip Morris.
  • Refuge in Audacity: Steven's prison-break record runs on this.
  • 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.
  • Shout-Out: 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.