• Yes Man

    by  • December 21, 2008 • Movie Reviews and Features, Uncategorized, Writing

    Directed by: Peyton Reed
    Starring: Jim Carrey, Zooey Deschanel
    Rated: PG-13 for crude sexual humor, language and brief nudity.
    Parental Notes: This is a pretty standard PG-13, though a sequence in which our hero must say “yes” to an oversexed senior citizen may have some parents squirming.

    Coming Up In Film
    Got a film event you want listed? Email reviewer@ealasaid.com with details.
    JANUARY 2009
    * January 7, The New York Metropolitan Opera’s production of Massenet’s “Thais” broadcast in local theaters. See www.fathomevents.com for details.
    * January 10, The New York Metropolitan Opera’s production of Puccini’s “La Rondine” broadcast live in local theaters. See www.fathomevents.com for details.
    * January 11 (11am) & 14 (7pm), Italy’s Grand Opera’s production of “Il Barbiere di Siviglia” at Camera 7. See www.cameracinemas.com/operas.shtml for details.
    * January 15-21, Berlin and Beyond Film Festival. See www.berlinandbeyond.com/ for details.
    * January 16-17, Midnight Movie Madness: “Army of Darkness.” Midnight screenings at Camera 7 (Friday) and Camera 12 (Saturday). See www.cameracinemas.com/midnight.shtml for details.
    * January 21, The New York Metropolitan Opera’s production of Puccini’s “La Rondine” broadcast in local theaters.
    * January 23-February 1, Noir City Film Festival. This year’s theme is newspaper noir. See www.noircity.com for details.
    * January 24, The New York metropolitan Opera’s production of Gluck’s “Orfeo ed Euridice” broadcast live in local theaters. See www.fathomevents.com for details.
    * January 25 (11am) & 28 (7pm) Italy’s Grand Opera’s production of “Norma” at Camera 7. See www.cameracinemas.com/operas.shtml for details.

    “Yes Man” is yet another Jim Carrey film in the mold of “Liar Liar” or “Bruce Almighty”: Carrey plays a schmucky everyman who is, for a short time, turned into someone wacky — and who learns and grows from the experience. This isn’t to say it’s a bad film, of course. If you like the formula, “Yes Man” is unlikely to disappoint. If you prefer Carrey’s more serious films (“The Number 23,” “Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind”), stay away.
    Carl Allen (Carrey) says “no” to just about everything — hanging out with his friends, going to events, doing anything outside of his usual routine: wake up, go to work (as a loan officer, saying “no” to applications), rent and watch a movie, go to sleep. He divorced a few years back and has become a veritable shut-in since his ex broke his heart. But then he runs into an old friend who has lived a fascinating, exciting life since the last time they saw each other — and who credits it to Terrence Bundley (Terence Stamp), leader of YES!, a movement which pushes its followers to say yes to everything.
    Carl’s friend persuades him to attend one of the YES! seminars, and soon Carl is face to face with Terrence, who pushes him over the edge into becoming a Yes Man. Carl starts saying “yes” to everything — and just as Terrence promised in his pitch, his life turns around. He meets Allison (Zooey Deschanel), a free-spirited and beautiful girl. He gets a promotion at his job. He starts having fun! He has exciting adventures using the things he’s learned from saying “yes” to things like learning to speak Korean.
    But of course there’s a downside, too — saying “yes” to everything makes him easy to take advantage of (as his friends demonstrate by making him pick up their huge bar tab). Worse, once Allison realizes that he only said “yes” to them moving in together because he had to, things start to fall apart.
    Carrey is an actor with chops way beyond this material, but he goes through the motions here with enthusiasm. He seems to be having a lot of fun with the role, which helps a great deal. Deschanel is charming as ever, and Stamp steals every scene he’s in (as usual). But you don’t see movies like “Yes Man” for the acting, do you?
    “Yes Man” is a series of standard setups, one after another. Everything is telegraphed way, way in advance. There isn’t much new or surprising here — which is in some ways an advantage. When you’re in the mood for, say, Kraft Mac’n’Cheese, you know just what you want. You’re not looking for the latest brilliant, challenging masterpiece of fusion cuisine from the genius chef at the bistro, you’re looking for the familiar — for comfort food. And that’s what “Yes Man” is: cinematic comfort food. If you’re in the mood for it, nothing else will do. But if you’re looking for something new, fresh, and far from run-of-the-mill, go elsewhere.


    Ealasaid is a technical writer, freelance movie reviewer, bookbinder, and geek-of-many-trades based in Portland, OR.