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Jim Carrey is best known for the outlandish characters, i.e. Ace Ventura, Dumb & Dumber, The Cable Guy, etc., he played early in his career. In his new movie, I Love You Phillip Morris, Carrey shows that his acting ability goes beyond that type of crazy role.

This very entertaining movie is based on the 2003 book, I Love You Phillip Morris: A True Story of Life, Love, and Prison Breaks, by Houston Chronicle crime reporter Steve McVicker about the real life of Steven Jay Russell, a con artist, impersonator and a multiple-time prison escapee.

I Love You Phillip Morris, the movie, is written and directed by the duo, who also gave us Bad Santa, John Requa and Glenn Ficarra. Ewan McGregor co-stars in a role that shows what a terrific actor he also is in Hollywood.

Steven Russell seems to be living a pretty normal life. He is married to a loving wife and they have one cute little daughter. He is active in his church and he works as a police officer. However, Steven has a secret that no one knows about. He is gay.

After Steven survives a dramatic event in his life, he decides to let the world know who he really is whether they like it or not. He leaves his wife and daughter and moves to Miami to live an openly gay life. Steven soon finds out that the extravagant life he desires to live can not be funded by his job at a local grocery store.

So, what does Steven decide to do??? Insurance fraud. Steven intentionally injures himself, then sues and collects a huge settlement. Eventually, Steven is caught and sent to jail.

While in jail, Steven meets the love of his life, Phillip Morris (McGregor). Steven scams and masquerades as different people to get himself and then Phillip out of jail early. When Steven turns to fraud again to support his and Phillip’s lavish lifestyle, Steven is sent back to jail for a second time.

Steven will use every trick in the book to escape jail, and he is successful several times, to be reunited with his one true love, Phillip Morris.

Glenn Ficarra and John Requa do a wonderful job of creating a fun, lively film that will keep you guessing. There are several times when you may think you figured out the direction the film is going, only for the story to take a sudden turn in an unexpected and enjoyable way. You never really know how this love story is going to end until the final credits begin to roll.

The original music of Nick Urata also adds to the enjoyment of this satisfying movie. The music is very uplifting and brassy just like Steven. The soundtrack is easily worth of a listen.

What really makes I Love You Phillip Morris a success are the tremendous performances of Jim Carrey and Ewan McGregor. I have never really been a big fan of Carrey’s over-the-top acting style, but he is really good in this movie. He blends funny with serious marvelously.

Ewan McGregor’s performance is very genuine and real. Phillip Morris is a simple person who is too trusting and is searching for someone to give him pure, honest love. McGregor’s Phillip Morris is a perfect compliment to Carrey’s frisky Steven Russell.

Many people may find a similarity between this movie and Steven Spielberg’s Catch Me If You Can. The difference is this is a love story and that is not. Steven Russell does everything for love, while Frank Abagnale Jr is out to make a buck. Both films are great.

The release date for this spirited flick has been pushed back several times due to distribution problems, but now that it has a definite release date, I Love You Phillip Morris is without question worth a look.

I Love You Phillip Morris will be released in theaters on Friday, December 3rd.