Review: Yes Man
PLOT: Carl Allen can’t connect to anyone. He constantly avoids friends and he lives his life in the shadows accepting his fate. But when an old buddy shows up and convinces him to go to a “Say Yes” seminar, he reluctantly decides to take a chance. Once there, he is taken in by the idea of saying “YES” to everything. So much so, that he takes a major risk and ends up meeting a girl. While he continues to say yes, his world begins to open up with new opportunities and an unexpected chance at happiness. But you know, sometimes it doesn’t hurt to say no, especially if you don’t really mean the other word.
YES MAN has a slight resemblance to what Jim Carrey used to be. While it looks and feels much like something he might’ve done years ago, there is a slight maturity to it. If you are looking for the dirty jokes involving an elderly woman who likes to pleasure men, you’ve got it. Or would you prefer that shtick that good old Jim made famous back in the day? Well, you’ve got a little of that too. But somewhere inside the “old Jim Carrey” is a focused and more thoughtful comic actor that is taking on a film, one which is trying to tell us something about how we live our lives. With all the negative energy in the world, why not just say yes? To everything! After all, if Terence Stamp tells you to, it must be a good idea. There are layers of a really good, matured and still funny Carrey here, it’s just too bad that it is sometimes buried under the rubble of excess.
For the first part of Yes Man, I felt like I was waiting for something. I guess in a way, much like Carl Allen (Carrey) is waiting. His girlfriend left him awhile ago, and he doesn’t seem to know how to move on. He avoids contact with his friends (Bradley Cooper and Danny Masterson). They have to change their number to “unknown caller” in hopes that Carl will answer. They try and get him out away from his usual thing, watching SAW or 300 alone and miserable. Yet usually, this is a losing battle. And his day job isn’t much better. He works as a loan consultant for a bank, turning down good people looking to do something with their lives. His life is useless and dull until an old friend shows him the way. This buddy of his, Nick (John Michael Higgins) informs Carl of a seminar. It is the new hope for people like himself, a chance to start saying “Yes!”. And once Nick gets him to a seminar, Terrence Bundley (Stamp) is able to scare the “No!” right out of him. This boring bank employee is soon saying yes to everything, and suddenly… his life begins to change for the better.
For the entire time that Carl says no, I felt like the set up was too long and much too obvious. We all know where this is going, and it takes a little too much time getting there. During the first half hour or so, the laughs are minimal and predictable. But once he arrives at the seminar, Mr. Stamp brings life into this dull affair. His motivational speaker Terrence is exciting and he almost makes it believable that this fellow could get anyone to say that word… yes. And soon, after a small fire is ignited, we meet Allison (Zooey Deschanel). She rides a scooter with a funky helmet and likes taking pictures (sometimes while driving). This oddball cutie seems to find something adorable about mild-mannered Carl, and the fact that he always answers every question with a yes makes him all the more interesting. That is where the movie truly works. When Yes Man plays out the quirky romance, it is surprisingly sweet and fun. When it detours from that, it loses its focus. Except of course with a couple of inspired moments here and there with an impromptu attempt to stop a suicide... really funny stuff. But with a few stereotypical side characters and a lame and unnecessary “terrorist” intrusion, the films charm sometimes fades away.
It is nice to see Zooey far away from THE HAPPENING, and she really shines here. She shares a strong chemistry with her leading man and they both work wonders together. And with our man Jim, he is actually really good as the yes man. This matured, older and wiser comedic actor is able to keep you on his side, even when the script strays far away from what made this an interesting story in the first place. Director Peyton Reed is able to keep the wheels in motion, but it really slows down with some uneven pacing. A problem which seems to lie with an unfocused script. This story is a comedic love story that suffers from too many pop culture references and an obvious and blatant wink and a nod to the audience. So in the end, Yes Man isn’t exactly a no, but it doesn’t warrant a one-hundred percent yes either. My rating 5.5/10 -- JimmyO