April 14, 2009
Review - " Yes Man " - (on DVD) By Roland Hansen
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Directed by: Peyton Reed
Starring: Jim Carrey, Zooey Deschanel, Bradley Cooper, John Michael Higgins,
Rhys Darby, Terence Stamp
It’s been a while since we’ve seen Jim Carrey in full blown zany mode, he was
suitably fun in last year’s "Horton Hears a Who!" but that was all CGI and before
that his last comedy effort had been 2005’s failure "Fun With Dick and Jane".
So to fully embrace Carrey mania you have to travel back to summer 2003 for
"Bruce Almighty" which was a perfectly enjoyable high concept comedy that the
rubber faced comedian made his own. Now we’ve got "Yes Man" which offers up
another ripe comic set-up and thanks to good performances from Carrey and
crew along with a solid script we’ve finally got another well executed Jim Carrey
film to enjoy.
He plays Carl Allen, a boring Los Angeles loan officer who tends to say no to
everything. He never wants to go out, doesn't like parties, and avoids his
friends. The film spends four or five seconds implying Carl's negative attitude
stems from his wife dumping him a few years ago, but then other dialogue
suggests his boringness is WHY she left him. At any rate, this is how he is now.
Just go with it.
He gets dragged to a positive-thinking seminar by his buddy Nick (John Michael Higgins), where the charismatic Terrence
Bundley (Terence Stamp, in a sharp spoof of platitude-spouting seminar-givers) rants about the power of "YES." Say yes to
everything! Never say no! Even if the thing being suggested is dangerous, irresponsible, or illegal, do it anyway! This way
For reasons just as unclear as why he was a naysayer in the first place, Carl becomes a yeasayer. And it works -- giving a
homeless guy a ride (which he never would have done before) goes poorly at first, but it leads to Carl meeting Allison (Zooey
Deschanel), a free-spirited woman who kisses him on their first encounter and soon thereafter becomes his girlfriend, their
18-year age difference notwithstanding. As he continues to say yes to every opportunity that presents itself -- joining his
pals for a late-night party, going bungee-jumping, learning Korean, etc. -- Carl finds his life happier and more fulfilled. When
he chickens out and says no, bad things happen. Hooray for yes!
For about 75 minutes, it's an affable and funny story, buoyed by Carrey and Deschanel's likability and by the various oddball
supporting characters, including Rhys Darby as Carl's eager-to-please boss, and Bradley Cooper and Danny Masterson as
But then something happens. The film remembers that it's technically a romantic comedy, and that as such it is required by
California law to include a scene where the girl finds out the guy has been lying about something, feels betrayed, and
breaks up with him. But Carl hasn't been lying about anything, so the movie has to stretch. It decides that when Allison learns
Carl has been forcing himself to say yes to everything, even things he doesn't want to do, she'll be crushed. Maybe he never
wanted to spend ANY time with her! Maybe he was only doing it because that stupid ol' seminar told him to!
Yep, that's the "conflict" in the story, and it's a serious detriment to what is otherwise a perfectly suitable comedy. While
it's not as solid as "Liar Liar" and "Bruce Almighty" (both of which used supernatural forces, not weakly explained willpower,
to change the protagonist), it does use Carrey's gift for physical comedy without overdoing it. Still for 70% of its runtime
"Yes Man" is lighthearted and good fun, the laughs aren’t groundbreaking but they’re well natured and amusing whilst the
cast do the material justice. I’d say "Yes Man" works out as an entertaining if not overly taxing time at the movies, and
seeing as that’s all it wants to be you certainly aren’t going to feel cheated. Not flawless then but as far as Hollywood
comedies or romances go, "Yes Man" works pretty well on its own terms.