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Tuesday, Jan. 25, 2011 03:25 pm

I Love You Phillip Morris


 In the new fact-based comedy-drama I Love You Phillip Morris, (opening at Champaign’s Art Theater this Friday, January 28, 2011) Jim Carrey has the role of a lifetime as gay confidence man and multiple prison escapee Frank Russell. Perhaps even more over-the-top than any previous character portrayed by Carrey, Russell’s compulsion to manipulate, lie and go to outrageous extremes to bend everyone he encounters to his will is a perfect match for Carrey’s manic energy.

To put it mildly, I’ve never had the highest tolerance for Jim Carrey’s style of comedy. Beginning with his earliest work as the Token Caucasian on In Living Color, Carrey’s energy and persona have always struck me, at best, as trying too hard. From Ace Ventura to his futile attempt to channel Andy Kaufman in Man in the Moon, Carrey’s overheated performances always seem to embody a kind of frantic desperation, a naked need to be loved at all costs. With the possible exception of his subdued and (mostly) naturalistic turn in 2004’s Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind, even the few serious roles he has attempted tend to come off as though he is trying to bowl the viewer over with just how un-Jim Carrey-like he’s being.

Cast as Frank Russell in I Love You Phillip Morris, however, Carrey has met his match. The character’s frantic desperation and compulsive personality-shifting provide the perfect vessel to both exploit and recast the patented Jim Carrey overkill. As an actor, he seems to understand this massively pathological character. And as odd as it seems, the result is both Carrey’s wildest role and also his most deeply felt. If there was an Academy Award for Best Comedic Performance, he would be a shoo-in. Somewhere Peter Sellers is smiling.

For tickets and showtimes visit www.thecuart.com

View the trailer:

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