I Love You Phillip Morris

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I Love You Phillip Morris
I Love You Phillip Morris.jpg
Theatrical release poster
Directed by
Screenplay by
  • John Requa
  • Glenn Ficarra
Based onI Love You Phillip Morris: A True Story of Life, Love, and Prison Breaks
by Steve McVicker
Produced by
CinematographyXavier Pérez Grobet
Edited byThomas J. Nordberg
Music byNick Urata
Distributed by
Release dates
  • January 18, 2009 (2009-01-18) (Sundance)
  • February 10, 2010 (2010-02-10) (France)
Running time
93 minutes
  • France
Budget$13 million[1]
Box office$20.7 million[1]

I Love You Phillip Morris is a 2009 English-language French black comedy film[2] based on a 1980s and 1990s real-life story of con artist, impostor and multiple prison escapee Steven Jay Russell, as played by Jim Carrey. While incarcerated, Russell falls in love with his fellow inmate, Phillip Morris (Ewan McGregor). After Morris is released from prison, Russell escapes from prison four times to be reunited with Morris. The film was adapted from the 2003 book I Love You Phillip Morris: A True Story of Life, Love, and Prison Breaks by Steve McVicker.[3] The film is the directorial debut of John Requa and Glenn Ficarra. It grossed $20 million worldwide and received generally positive reviews from critics. For their writing, Requa and Ficarra received a nomination for the Writers Guild of America Award for Best Adapted Screenplay.[4]


Steven Jay Russell is on his deathbed, recalling the events of his life that led him to this point. He spent his early adult years in Virginia Beach as a police officer. He plays the organ at church, has unenthusiastic sex with his wife, Debbie, and spends his off-hours searching for his biological mother, who had placed him for adoption as a child. Steven locates his biological mother, but she rejects him.

He then quits the police force and moves to Texas and works for Sysco, the family business.

After a car crash on the way from a homosexual tryst, Steven leaves his family and life behind, though he keeps in touch with his wife and young daughter, and explores the world as his true self – a gay man. He moves to Miami, where he finds a boyfriend, Jimmy, and they adopt a luxurious lifestyle. To keep themselves in the style to which they have become accustomed, Steven becomes a con man. He is pursued by the police, and, after jumping off a parking garage, is sent to prison, where he falls in love with inmate Phillip Morris.

Steven cannot bear to be separated from Phillip. After being released, he helps get Phillip freed from prison by posing as a lawyer, then attains wealth by fraudulently acquiring a position as Chief Financial Officer of a large medical management company called USAMM.

Steven is eventually caught embezzling. While in the police car, he reminisces about Jimmy in Florida, dying of AIDS. He asks the police for Phillip's insulin and injects himself. He goes back to prison, where Phillip is also sent as an accomplice and angrily tells Steven he never wants to see him again. Months later, Phillip learns from another inmate that Steven is dying of AIDS. Heartbroken, Phillip calls Steven while he is in the infirmary and confesses that, while he is still upset with Steven for lying to him, he still loves him. Phillip is later told that Steven has died.

Sometime later, Phillip is taken to meet with his lawyer and finds Steven waiting for him. Steven describes how he faked dying of AIDS, to be allowed to see Phillip again, and promises never to lie to him again. He runs one last con to break Phillip out of prison, only to be caught when he runs into an old co-worker.

The end of the movie explains that the real-life Phillip was released from prison in 2006; but Steven was given a life sentence and is in 23-hour lockup, only having one free hour a day to shower and exercise, which the film implies to be because an official involved in the sentencing had a brother-in-law who was conned by Russell.

The last scene shows Steven laughing joyfully while running across the prison yard, guards in pursuit, in another attempt to be with Phillip.


In addition, Phillip Morris has an uncredited cameo as Steven's lawyer during the movie-end court scene.[citation needed]


After original difficulty finding a U.S. distributor, likely due to its explicit gay sexual content, the film was re-edited.[5] In May 2009, it was announced by Variety that Consolidated Pictures Group had acquired the rights for distribution.[6]

Portions of the film were filmed at the Louisiana State Penitentiary (also known as Angola) in West Feliciana Parish, Louisiana. A Christian blogger stated that warden Burl Cain did not permit one sex scene between two male inmates to be filmed at the prison.[7] The real Phillip Morris even appears in a cameo as Steven's lawyer in one scene.[8]


The film was released in Europe, Taiwan and Japan between February and April 2010. Although a limited run in the United States was initially scheduled for April 30, 2010, it was later reported that the film's release had been indefinitely postponed by its distributors, Consolidated Pictures Group[9] but on April 12, 2010, Variety announced the distributor had had a change of heart and that I Love You Phillip Morris would be shown in limited theaters starting July 30 before expanding nationwide on August 6.[10]

On June 3, 2010, the film was delayed yet again due to legal battles. The film was finally released on December 3, 2010, after Roadside Attractions and Liddell Entertainment acquired the rights to distribute in the United States.[11]

Box office[edit]

I Love You Phillip Morris has a worldwide gross of $20,722,843 as of August 31, 2011.[1]


Rotten Tomatoes has a 71% critic rating based on 156 reviews and an average score of 6.6/10. The critical consensus is: "This fact-based romantic comedy has its flaws, but they're mostly overcome by its consistently sweet, funny tone and one of the best performances of Jim Carrey's career."[12] On Metacritic, the film has a weighted average score of 65 out of 100, based on 32 critics, indicating "generally favorable reviews".[13]

Steve Persall from the Tampa Bay Times wrote, "Think Catch Me If You Can mashed up with Brokeback Mountain if Mel Brooks directed and you'll get the idea."[14] John Anderson of Variety remarked, "Less of a comedy than a hilarious tragedy, I Love You Phillip Morris stars Jim Carrey in his most complicated comedic role since The Cable Guy."[14] Empire wrote, "One of the funniest films of the year, this is a wonderful mix of old-school Carrey outrageousness with a genuinely touching – and very modern – love story."[14]

Damon Wise of The Times gave the film four stars out of five, stating, "I Love You Phillip Morris is an extraordinary film that serves as a reminder of just how good Carrey can be when he's not tied into a generic Hollywood crowd-pleaser. His comic timing remains as exquisite as ever."[15] Xan Brooks of The Guardian also gave the film a positive review, describing the movie as "fast, funny and rather daring. A whisk of caffeine with a center that's sweet."[16]

Italy controversy[edit]

The distribution and promotion of the film in Italy by its Italian distributor Lucky Red was strongly criticized. The advertising campaign (posters, trailers and TV commercials) was accused of minimizing the homosexual themes of the film to present it as a simple comedy, removing the romantic relationship between Steve and Phillip in the film with the aim of attracting a larger audience. Ewan McGregor was removed from the billing list in the trailer. Lucky Red later claimed to have purchased from its distributor and production company EuropaCorp as a "softer" version of the original, in which most of the homosexual sex scenes between the protagonists Steve and Phillip were removed.[17][18][19]

Home media[edit]

The film was released on DVD and Blu-ray Disc on April 5, 2011.[20]


I Love You Phillip Morris: Original Soundtrack
Soundtrack album by
Various Artists

I Love You Phillip Morris: Original Soundtrack was composed by Nick Urata.

1."I Cried Like a Silly Boy"DeVotchKa3:27
2."Dance Hall Days"Jack Hues4:00
3."Key West"Nick Urata0:53
4."Jesus Has a Plan"Nick Urata2:14
5."To Love Somebody"Nina Simone2:41
6."Written in the Stars"Nick Urata3:59
7."Nobody Knows the Trouble I've Seen" (Golden Gate Quartet)Orlandus Wilson3:16
8."Promise to Jimmy"Nick Urata2:31
9."The Escape Artist"Nick Urata4:36
10."The Last Time"Nick Urata3:00
11."Steal Away"Robbie Dupree3:31
12."Faking Death"Nick Urata2:44
13."The Marriage of Figaro: Sull'aria"German Opera Orchestra of Berlin3:33


  1. ^ a b c d "I Love You, Philip Morris". Box Office Mojo. IMDb. Retrieved April 5, 2010.
  2. ^ Buchanan, Jason. "I Love You Phillip Morris". AllMovie.
  3. ^ Simon Reynolds (January 2009). "Release Diary: March 19, 2010". Digital Spy. Retrieved 2010-02-01.[permanent dead link]
  4. ^ "Writers Guild Awards". Writers Guild of America. 4 January 2011. Archived from the original on 8 January 2011.
  5. ^ Toby McDonald, "McGregor gay film too risque for cinema," Times Online, March 15, 2009.
  6. ^ Michael Fleming, "Consolidated loves 'Phillip Morris'," Variety, May 11, 2009.
  7. ^ Ridgeway, James. "God's Own Warden." Mother Jones. July/August 2011 Issue. p. 2. Retrieved on March 23, 2013.
  8. ^ Alexander Ryll. "Essential Gay Themed Films To Watch, I Love You Phillip Morris". Gay Essential. Archived from the original on 4 April 2019. Retrieved 3 February 2015.
  9. ^ "24 Frames". The Los Angeles Times. April 8, 2010.
  10. ^ I Love You Phillip Morris Gets July 30th Release April 12 2010 Archived 2011-07-26 at the Wayback Machine Retrieved 13 April 2010
  11. ^ Jim Carrey Film 'I Love You Phillip Morris' Finds Buyer And Gets December 3 Release. Retrieved August 26, 2010.
  12. ^ "I Love You Phillip Morris (2010)". Rotten Tomatoes. Fandango Media. Retrieved May 27, 2019.
  13. ^ "I Love You Phillip Morris Reviews". Metacritic. CBS Interactive. Retrieved March 20, 2018.
  14. ^ a b c Alexander Ryll. "Essential Gay Themed Films To Watch, I Love You Phillip Morris". Gay Essential. Archived from the original on April 4, 2019. Retrieved February 3, 2015.
  15. ^ Wise, Damon (2009-01-20). "I Love You Phillip Morris at the Sundance Film Festival, Utah". The Times. London. Retrieved 2010-03-19.
  16. ^ Brooks, Xan (2010-03-19). "I Love You Phillip Morris: 'Fast, funny and rather daring'". The Guardian. London. Retrieved 2010-03-19.
  17. ^ Il caso Colpo di fulmine - Il mago della truffa: Cineblog intervista la Lucky Red
  18. ^ Colpo di fulmine: è vera censura?
  19. ^ Attenzione: censura su Colpo di Fulmine - Il mago della truffa
  20. ^ "I Love You Phillip Morris Movie Trailer, Cast, Pictures, Release Date Dec 3". Phillipmorrismovie.net. Retrieved 23 September 2017.

External links[edit]