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Yes Man (Single-Disc Edition) (2009)

A comedy movie directed by Peyton Reed

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"Yes Man" drowns an upbeat message with over-the-top characters and a formulaic story.

  • Dec 18, 2008
  • by

Say Yes to the philosophy of "Yes Man" – to welcomingly embrace new opportunities - but No to its contrived film execution. 

Based in concept on the spirited autobiography by Danny Wallace, the film recounts a guy's decision to get off the coach, stop ignoring his friends and live a more open life by saying "yes" to everything.  However the film changes most of Danny's anecdotes in favor of ridiculous scenarios and over-the-top characters.

Jim Carrey stars as bored, uninvolved financial loan officer Carl, who says "no" to people at work and to friends in his personal life.  Carrey brings his trademark physical humor, sarcasm and facial wizardry to Carl and gets a few good laughs and a decent amount of giggles from his comic energy.  Carl feels and looks like Ace Ventura at 40.  The whole production depends on his winning personality, and he elevates a weak script filled with dull gags and thinly-drawn characters. 

A chance encounter with an old friend introduces Carl to the "yes movement," a cult enterprise headed by a commanding Terence Stamp.  Carl makes a covenant that he must say yes to everything or else bad luck will haunt him.  This supernatural element is overplayed, such as when an old neighbor, played by Molly Sims, desires to sexually reward Carl for installing her shelves, he declines the offer and the ridiculousness begins.  His shirt gets caught in the doorway, he falls down stairs and a vicious dog almost mauls him.  He reconsiders and gives in to his neighbor, much to his surprise enjoyment, but at the expense of making the film's message less appealing.   

The other activities Carl agrees to serve are obvious additions to his skillset that will aid him in future tricky situation.  He learns Korean, plays guitar, and even throws a bridal shower, all conveniently helping him in select right moment where Carl emerges as a hero. 

Most dull is Carl's love story with Allison, played by Zooey Deschanel who was charming opposite Will Farell in "Elf."  But here she's a freewheeling hipster who plays in a bad rock band and teaches a class on photographing while jogging.  Could it get any zanier?  How about impromptu trips to Lincoln, Nebraska.  When Allison discovers that Carl says "yes" to everything she questions his interest in her, but romantic-comedy formula requires her to have a grand moment right near the end where he convinces her that he genuinely likes her.  Another awkward element is watching Deschanel (28) make out with the significantly older Carrey (46). 

The one bearable supporting performance is from Australian comic Rhys Darby as Carl's dorky boss, who gets a few laughs because he plays well off of Carrey. 

Written by three screenwriters, a bad sign the original screenplay was problematic, "Yes Man" sours a wonderful message that if people step out of their routine existence and open themselves to random opportunities, they can better their life.  Carrey can't save a film that jumps too far into fantasy when a more grounded, relatable story could have been more profound. 

1.5 out of 4 stars

Yes Man

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April 24, 2009
Thanks for this review- I've been debating on whether to see it or not...but, I guess not after this review!
More Yes Man reviews
Quick Tip by . January 03, 2011
posted in Movie Hype
I haven't decide whether to like this film or not, am still in the process of watching it while multi-tasking over here on Lunch! It's a comedy, very ridiculous one, pretty much Jim Carrey's stuff. I suppose if you're a fan of his, it's great! Otherwise, probably a waste of time! Not much brain works needed and good way to relax...
review by . June 09, 2010
The success of a movie is, like phrases and clothing styles, all about timing. For example, this latest comedy by Jim Carrey would have been great if it was released in 1990. But coming out in 2008, after other Carrey films such as The Mask, Me Myself and Irene, and Bruce Almighty, this movie actually seems like a rehash of Carrey's previous films. In The Mask, Carrey plays a meek bank employee who after encountering a mask, becomes an alpha male that takes everything he wants. In Me, Myself and …
review by . May 05, 2009
Yes Man Poster
I have heard a lot of people say that Jim Carrey just isn't that funny any more, and up until I saw Yes Man, I would have agreed with them, but Carrey goes back in time to some of his funnier moments to bring out his best in this movie. I mean there were just some scenes in the film were we were just hysterically laughing. Let's face it, there are some really funny things in the world that you would have to say yes to if you were in his position which is what makes Yes Man so funny.    A …
review by . April 12, 2009
Yes Man
While the 2008 flick Yes Man with Jim Carrey and Zooey Dechanel certainly isn't Oscar nom-worthy, it's a fun way to pass a couple of hours.  Yes, it's your run-of-the-mill Jim Carrey comedy with goofy faces and wacky humor but the story line is as solid as a romantic comedy can get. There are many funny parts but more of a haha than a ROFL.  It's exactly what you think it is but it isn't terrible. If you got spare time I'd give it a look but wait until it's on cable if you can.    …
review by . April 13, 2009
If you can only see one version of "Liar, Liar" this year make sure its "Yes Man" starring Jim Carrey. Carrey plays Carl, a man who is isolated from life and his friends. The reason for this is because he spends all his time saying ‘no' to everything. Then a friend from his past brings him to a "Yes!" motivational seminar where the Yes Guru (Terrence Stamp) makes it so that Carl can only say yes to everything. This is a terribly dangerous thing to do, and one that could easily be taken advantage …
review by . May 17, 2009
I was pretty much over Jim Carrey's crazy over the top funny movies but I liked the idea behind a man that decides to say YES to everything and had to check it out. It was surprisingly good yet not really annoying like I thought it could be. It also didn't hurt that Zooey Deschanel was in it, she can really do no wrong in my mind (well besides The Happening er) and also Rhys Darby from Flight of the Concords!    And this is going to sound weird and probably make no sense, but …
review by . April 12, 2009
posted in Movie Hype
Yes Man has some decent laughs and the chemsitry between Allison (Zoey Deschanel) and Carl (Jim Carrey) is really sweet. The idea of saying yes and having good things happen to people is a sweet idea, and it's played well here. Sadly Jim Carrey does a few too many goofy faces, silly talk, and bad singing. A good percentage of the jokes fall pretty flat.     The good: Zoey Deschanel's body of work is beginning to look like fun. A band-aid in Almost Famous, always quirky. She performs …
review by . April 11, 2009
Jim Carrey's latest film has some good moments. Carrey gets to squish his face into well-known rubbery poses. The storyline is cute. Hints of Liar, Liar are present but it's different enough to be clever and fresh on its own merit. I have really appreciated most of Carrey's movies, both the serious like The Truman Show and more slapstick like Fun with Dick and Jane, and think he's a good actor.       Zooey Deschanel is sarcastically charming as usual. I'm drawn to dry humor and …
review by . April 11, 2009
Jim Carrey's latest film has some good moments. Carrey gets to squish his face into well-known rubbery poses. The storyline is cute. Hints of Liar, Liar are present but it's different enough to be clever and fresh on its own merit. I have really appreciated most of Carrey's movies, both the serious like The Truman Show and more slapstick like Fun with Dick and Jane, and think he's a good actor.    Zooey Deschanel is sarcastically charming as usual. I'm drawn to dry humor and …
About the reviewer
Eric Horwitz ()
Ciao!     My world in a nutshell: Born in the humble beach town of Ventura, CA I went to UCLA with ambitions to pursue journalism and film. I studied literature and picked up Italian … more
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About this movie


Jim Carrey does wonders with a slight premise that finds his reserved, emotionally-distant character, Carl Allen, a banker who routinely turns down loan applications, accepting a challenge to open up to life by saying "yes" to everything. A man who constantly disappoints friends by weasling out of opportunities for bonding and happiness, Carl radically changes into a creature of complete spontaneity. By never saying no anymore, he gets into situations with unpredictable outcomes, such as driving a homeless stranger to a scary-looking park at night. But for the most part, whatever Carl says yes to becomes a road to worthwhile experiences, even receiving a promotion at work for approving hundreds of micro-loans against all policy. Zooey Deschanel, who often plays appealing kooks, is very good as Carl's girlfriend, a free spirit who takes to his positivity about everything--for awhile, anyway. Director Peyton Reed (Down with Love) makes the most out of the gimmicky comedy, as does Carrey, who does wonders with scenes that are often left open-ended just to see what the brilliant comic will do with them. -- Tom Keogh
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Director: Peyton Reed
Genre: Comedy
DVD Release Date: April 7, 2009
Runtime: 104 minutes
Studio: Warner Home Video
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