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  Yes Man

Starring: Jim Carrey, Zooey Deschanel, Rhys Darby, Bradley Cooper

Directed by: Peyton Reed

Produced by: David Heyman, Richard D. Zanuck

Written by: Jarrad Paul, Andrew Mogel, Nicholas Stoller
Distributor: Warner Bros.


     Yes, Yes Man is a safe studio comedy that was likely made with the expressed goal of offering unobjectionable, mainstream humor – not a strong foundation for a good film. Yes, the movie seems a little too familiar when one considers that a previous Jim Carrey effort—Liar, Liar—thrust the actor into situations in which he could not tell a lie, just as he must say “yes” to every proposition made in this one. Yes, it would be easier for me to dismiss the movie as an insipid affair because of its questionable reason to exist than it will be for me to defend it because I liked it, but I won’t let that cloud my judgment. Yes, the whole “yes” framing device I’m using to be cute and (not so subtly) play off the movie’s title is really lame and adds nothing to this review.


     With different actors and a different director, Yes Man likely would’ve been as irritating as the above paragraph. After all, its plot practically defines comedic triteness: it consists of a long chain of daredevil stunts and life-changes fostered by a once-pessimistic protagonist (Carrey) who is convinced by a mega-church-esque leader (Terrence Stamp) to practice the sole value the organization’s congregants hold—saying “yes” to everything. But the movie works because it features the right talent hitting the right notes, proving that even the most generic, least edgy Hollywood material can work if properly nurtured.


     Carrey is, of course, the biggest reason why Yes Man works as well as it does, playing essentially the same character as always but providing his reliably likable, funny presence. The movie moves in every predictable direction and yet Carrey infuses entertaining zaniness at each step of the way. Consider an expected scene in which his Carl is confronted by a shady hobo who hangs outside the “yes”-church to rip off new converts by forcing them to oblige in driving him wherever he wants, lending him all their cash, and so on and so forth. The viewer knows exactly what will happen and Carrey milks this sense of situational irony in every way he can, engaging his exaggerated facial expressions and “Dumb and Dumber”-derived idiocy to foster an outrageous situation. And when the scene repeats itself over and over again with slightly changed elements, the actor never ceases to do something that’s funny in a different way.


     There are great supporting performances, too. “Flight of the Conchords” actor Rhys Darby makes a hilarious turn as Carl’s boss, who throws elaborate dress-up parties that Carl has no choice but to attend when invited. And oh boy does Yes Man soar with its choice of an obligatory love interest. While Nicholas Stoller, Jarrad Paul, and Andrew Mogel’s script doesn’t make Allison, the pretty “running-photography instructor” who Carl fatefully forms a relationship with in his “yes”-quest, into an interesting person, Zooey Deschanel’s charming performance does. Ms. Deschanel is sweet, attractive, offbeat, funny, and perfectly complementary to Carrey. Even when Carl’s titular “yes man” attitude inevitably begins to have negative consequences when Allison learns of the vow in the second act, Deschanel’s charisma is enough to get the audience through the ensuing unoriginal scenes needed to keep the plot moving along.


     And what a feat the movie is for director Peyton Reed, who feels at home making inconsequential fluff totally enjoyable. After his failed 2006 attempt at drama, The Break Up, it’s good to see Reed return to the frothy goodness that made his earlier films Down with Love and Bring it On some of the more entertaining ones of their kind. Finishing the picture off with a goofy, wowing street-luge sequence shared by his main characters, the skilled director reels Yes Man in at a quick and enjoyable hour-and-44-minutes, making it a perfectly appeasing and never-boring (if not extraordinary or inspired) date-flick for the masses.


-Danny Baldwin, Bucket Reviews

Review Published on: 12.18.2008

Screened on: 11.20.2008 on the Warner Bros. Studio Lot in Burbank, CA.


Yes Man is rated PG-13 and runs 104 minutes.

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