Posted by: znewkirk | December 26, 2008

New Release: Yes Man

(2008 ) Director: Peyton Reed (Bring It On, The Break-Up) | Screenplay written by Nicholas Stoller (Forgetting Sarah Marshall); Book by Danny Wallace

Jim Carrey implores a potential viewer to purchase a ticket to his new film

Jim Carrey implores a potential viewer to purchase a ticket to his new film

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.)

Carrey being really, really funny

Carrey being really, really funny

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



  1. Another great review Z-man. I’ll have part I of our 2008 in review up on the podcast Saturday. Should I do an edit to add this one?

  2. My vote: I really enjoy this film. It makes me laugh every time I watch it. The pace of the film is relaxed and relaxing. I recommend it as good stress relief to all those taking life too seriously. As to the love interest and band and the part that they play… I ride a really small Honda motorcycle that I love and in the street kids point at it and mock me. Sometimes they want to actually upset me, that is their goal. But I happen to love this bike and somehow the band and this film mean that yes, instead of giving up or changing the bike, I shall flaunt the thing instead. So I believe that this film gives a good, uplifting feeling and hey what is wrong with that? Also, as a divorced man made redundant years ago, I run my own small business, which is an art business. I carve wooden ornaments and statues, so again the film lifts my spirits to want to improve my own work, make it more vivid and pronounced. I like this film. Other films had huge hype, you see them years later on the small screen and where are they then? But this film will always be the same for me. A holiday to a telephone museum in Nebraska is what happens in life and you had better get used to it and love it.

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