Saturday, December 13, 2008

Yes Man Movie Review

A dose of happy and (somewhat) sensible positivity is exactly what the doctor ordered

Carl Allen is the 'Yes Man', or rather, he starts off as a combination of Dr. No and Mr. Full of Excuses. His life is going nowhere and Carl's best friend Nick knows it. Then Allen (Jim Carrey) signs up for a self-help program (Just say 'Yes') - and his life quickly changes. Problem is, he has to say yes to everything.

The message of 'Yes Man' is simple. Life is a playground - go play! Right now, with bad news coming out as fast as the world's newspaper's can print it, more and more people are tempted to go with the flow of doom and gloom - and that measn staying at home and moping.

At a time when it is becoming our duty to say 'no' to all those things we can no longer afford, here's a tonic to defeat some of the more pathetic excuses, and find excuses to live. Some of the opening scenes may resonate with a beleagured audience used to staying home and watching DVD's instead of socialising and making the most of life.

Formulaic but fun

While 'Yes Man' is somewhat formulaic (everyday defective set up, life-changing paradigm shift, utopian phase, dramatic twist, resolution) Carrey nevertheless imbues it with plenty of nutty charm to stimulate smiley faces and poke your funny muscles.

I particularly enjoyed Carl in Korean classes, and his dialogue with Soo-Mi. Having lived in Korea it was funny to see Carrey doing such a good job of the language, and then some.


There are plenty of ticklers, including a drunk as a skunk Carl in a fisticuff outside a bar, Carl's serenading of a suicidal man, and an FBI interrogation.

I think the reason the movie doesn't have you guffawing in the aisles is because it is one of those scripts that are funny on paper, but merely amusing on film. Count on Jim Carrey to squeeze out a couple of impromtu laughs.


TV director Peyton Reed (of Cashmere Mafia) was responsible for 2006's so-so 'The Break-Up', with Jennifer Aniston. 'Yes Man' is a step up, but nevertheless feels mired at times in TV-feel and sit-com sets and scenarios. There are no cinemascope-sized scenes (with the exception perhaps of the Evangelical 'Yes' seminar set up), and while Carrey does a lot to rev up the movies mojo (and occasionally strums it up), it is the director's lack of Big Flick Vision that hurts 'Yes Man's prospects.

The casting is good, if you're into TV. Zooey Deschanel ('The Happening') plays Allison, the loopy sidekick to Carrey's changing Carl Allen persona. TV star Bradley Cooper (who?) plays Peter, Carl's sensible attorney friend, while Danny Masterson (who again?) plays second fiddle friend, Rooney. Rhys Darby - also from TV-land, is Norman, Carl's annoyingly cloying and naive Aussie boss, Norman (he grows on you). Smallville's Terence Stamp (voice of Jor-el) plays Yes-man evangelist Terrence Bundley, while Molly Sims (Carl 's ex, Stephanie) and Sasha Alexander (Carl's best buddy's wife Lucy) provide enjoyable eye-candy. There are plenty of small roles besides, all of them amusing.

'Yes Man' doesn't aim to be much more than a cheer-me-upper. It's a great 'safe' flick for a first date, or something to watch with your wife or partner before a romantic dinner (or something else spontaneous). If that's all you're after, say 'Yes' to a pair of 'Yes Man' tickets, and enjoy.


Watch the trailer.

Read the best review of Synecdoche on the web.

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