(2008 ) Director: Peyton Reed (Bring It On, The Break-Up) | Screenplay written by Nicholas Stoller (Forgetting Sarah Marshall); Book by Danny Wallace
Let’s just get this out front: Yes Man is a clichéd, rote act of product placement featuring the none-too-fresh talents of an aging Jim Carrey stretched thin across an hour and a half of vacuous celluloid. Where other comedies attempt to break some sort of movie rule to appear subversive or otherwise attractive to bored audiences, Yes Man languishes in the tried-and-true, never taking a stab at anything outside the lines, save for one or two misguided gross-out gags. As a straight-up comedy starring what was once the biggest name on the funnier side of Hollywood, the movie is a miserable failure.
That’s one way of looking at it. Another way is to see Yes Man for what it really is: a decent romantic comedy with good intentions, a breezy pace, and a relaxed tone. It’s not great, but it’ll do for a date night when the local video store is out of copies of Schindler’s List.
Yes Man concerns itself with the following high-concept plot: Carl (Carrey), stuck in a rut since his hot wife left him years before, attends a seminar by creepy cult-leader Terrence Bundley (Terence Stamp), who implores Carl to live life never saying “no” to any offer that comes his way. Hijinks ensue, leading Carl to do such crazy things as help a homeless person, exercise, and go out every once in a while, an act that causes Carl to meet manic pixie dream girl Allison (Zooey Deschanel), who may or may not be the one to pull him out of his antisocial funk. (Spoiler alert: she is.)
The movie, thankfully, is a lot better than how I just described it, and it’s also much more than the sum of the embarrassingly bad parts shown in the trailer. Rhys Darby (Flight of the Conchords), for instance, is awkwardly fun in his role as Carl’s eager boss, and Nicholas Stoller’s screenplay doles out a relatively good amount of witty dialogue not present in most rom-com pap. The story is as trite as any aimed toward the chick-lit demographic, but there’s no escaping that.
However, I was most pleasantly surprised by Carrey’s effectiveness in a lighthearted romantic film. Despite his poor overall judgment in recent film roles, the man still has charisma and likeability in droves, and here he utilizes those intangibles to his advantage. The once-premiere comedian in the world has fallen far from his perch, but for at least one film, he may have found a resting place more suitable to his archaic skills.
Rating: Two and a Half of Five Stars