Yes Man Review

by Steve Rhodes (steve DOT rhodes AT internetreviews DOT com)
December 19th, 2008

A film review by Steve Rhodes
Copyright 2008 Steve Rhodes

RATING (0 TO ****): ** 1/2

Although the trailers and the plot description may lead you to guess that YES MAN is actually LIAR LIAR 2, it isn't. It's based on a completely different conceit, which is set up differently as well. In LIAR LIAR, no matter how hard he tried, Jim Carrey's character was incapable of telling a lie. In contrast, Carrey's Carl Allen in YES MAN can say no. It's just that he has made a covenant with his new guru to say nothing but yes to life's many possibilities, no matter how undesirable they may seem.
When the movie opens, however, Carl is the original "no" man. He turns down all offers to hang out with his few friends, and, at work in his dead end job as a "junior loan officer," he spends his life stamping "Declined" on loan applications. Of course, refusing offers sometimes makes sense, as we see him rejecting one internet spam scam after another.

Carl's life is changed forever for the better one day, when an obnoxious friend of his insists that he go to a motivational seminar led by Terrence Bundley (Terence Stamp). Terrence preaches the gospel of "Yes! is the new no." When the cynical Carl laughs off the whole idea and refuses to take his "Yes!" medicine, Terrence literally runs off the stage to confront Carl. Violating Carl's personal space, Terrence gets him to reluctantly agree to his "Yes!" prescription. Terrence warns him sternly that bad things will happen if he doesn't stick to the program.

Stamp is wonderfully over-the-top as a scam artist and cult leader. In contrast, Carrey starts off this comedy appearing so tired that, when he starts hamming it up, as he usually does, the reaction is to find him equal measures funny and sad. It's not good when you find yourself feeling sorry for a comedian. But Carrey's shtick and his material too often feel like retreads in YES MAN.

What saves the movie, other than the occasional good laugh, is the charming work done by Carrey's co-star Zooey Deschanel. Her Allison is a free spirit who teaches a jogging photography group -- hello blurry pictures -- in the early morning and sings in a bizarro band at night. The movie would have been even better if they had let Deschanel's lovable weirdness out more often. Usually her characters are even more quirky. But the chemistry between the two leads is good and the little romance between them is believable.

Director Peyton Reed, who gave us the absolutely gorgeous DOWN WITH LOVE, which was bursting with rich colors, demands little from his cinematographer (Robert D. Yeoman) this time. The movie has a dingy look, which reminds us too often of how tired the narrative is as well.

I doubt if YES MAN is worth the price of admission, but, if you do see it, there are enough laughs to make it enjoyable.

YES MAN runs 1:45. It is rated PG-13 for "crude sexual humor, language and brief nudity" and would be acceptable for kids around 8 and up.

The film opens nationwide in the United States on Friday, December 19, 2008. In the Silicon Valley, it will be showing at the AMC theaters, the Century theaters and the Camera Cinemas.

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