Yes Man Review

by Homer Yen (homeryen88 AT gmail DOT com)
December 26th, 2008

Say "Yes" to Jim Carrey
by Homer Yen
(c) 2008

Jim Carrey's popularity likely peaked in the 90s when he gave us such unbridled farces such as "Liar Liar" and "The Mask" and "Ace Ventura". In a sense, you could say that this comedy plays to Carrey's strengths as the likeable goof. But, in that same sense, you could say that "Yes Man" doesn't feel very modern. His output feels dated and quaint. Even the film's most hilarious sequence relies on a 90s song by Third Eye Blind. It's funny but familiar. Yet, if you've liked any of those three films from the 90s and if that wacky poster with Jim Carrey frolicking through the meadow with that wide-eyed grin makes you smile, you will like this film because this is what Jim Carrey is all about.

Here, Carrey plays a man named Carl who has got to be the most negative person you'd ever meet. And, I was wondering why people would even pay attention to him when all he does is dodge phone calls, brush people off, and take delight in rejecting others/invitations/opportunities. However, we do learn that he doesn't live in an environment that is conducive to positivity. His wife left him some three years ago. He's a loan officer at a bank where no doubt the credit crisis forces him to decline every application that he sees. And his boss, desperate to be liked, is some relic from the 70s who is a cross between Monty Python and the Geico Insurance gecko. As positive as I am, I'd probably readily turn down the boss's invitations to attend his "300"-themed and "Harry Potter"-themed parties.

In one of the better sequences, Carl is convinced to attend a meeting that is led by a self-help expert, known as the Guru of Yes. Played by Terence Stamp, who wonderfully plays this role for all that it is worth, this meeting is a hilarious send-up of anything related to The Landmark Forum, a convention for any multi-level marketing company, and those who have been exposed to the zen-like Law of Attraction from the popular DVD "The Secret". When you say "yes", you open yourself to a world of opportunities and possibilities. Carl makes a promise to himself that he will say "yes" to whatever opportunity/request comes his way.

There's a certain naivety that comes with this commitment, but Carl is only asked to do simple things where the word "yes" doesn't get him in too much trouble. And soon, he is giving a homeless man a ride and money; he is approving business loans for oddball ideas; he is learning how to play the guitar; he is learning how to speak Korean. Yes-Yes-Yes. His generosity and spontaneity catches the eye of a free-spirited girl (Zooey Deschanel) who enjoys his open-arms approach to life. By the way, Zooey is a ray of sunshine whose cuteness gives the film a needed jolt of modernism.

Other than one longer-than-necessary music sequence, the film is efficient in delivering its laughs. And Jim Carrey gets as much mileage as he can, especially when he has a chance to do what he does best and let loose. But it never reaches the comedic heights that you would hope for. And, Carrey has mellowed out somewhat. Yet, you can't fault a guy for being genuinely goofy. And what Jim Carrey may lack in dramatic skill or good looks in this film, he certainly makes up with an incessant desire to entertain. Would I recommend this film? *pause* Yes.

Grade: B-

S: 1 out of 3
L: 0 out of 3
V: 1 out of 3

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