Movie Review: Yes Man (2008)

Jim Carrey and Zooey Deschanel in Yes Man

Photo: Warner Bros.

The easiest comparison is to Jim Carrey’s 1997 comedy Liar Liar and it is a comparison you are going to read about in every review for Yes Man. The plots are extremely similar except this time around instead of magically compelled not to lie we are dealing with a voluntary decision to say “yes”. Personally I don’t mind Liar Liar is a satisfying diversion and considering the similarities I find myself pretty much satisfied with this flick too.

Jim Carrey plays Carl Allen, a man that has gone through the majority of his life since his divorce saying “no” to virtually anything and everything in an effort to maintain solitude and avoid getting hurt again. After being swayed into attending a “Yes” seminar from a money-grubbing self-help guru played by Terence Stamp he decides to say “yes” to everything, no matter what it may be. For the most part the idea remains relatively tame falling into the same trappings most comedies of this sort run through and the majority of the time it works quite well. I laughed plenty and once it was all said and done there was very little to complain about. There is one joke directly recycled from Liar Liar involving some Scotch tape and the stupid Red Bull gag you have undoubtedly seen in the trailers should have been nixed, but other than that this one isn’t half-bad.

Carrey’s work as of late has grown tired as he has tried to find avenues outside of physical comedy to give him a larger bit of acting cred in Hollywood. He succeeded with films such as The Truman Show and Eternal Sunshine but missed the mark big time with The Number 23. Yes Man is more of a return to form for the funny man, but he manages to slightly reign in the goofy and does quite well as the witty go-getter that says “yes” to everything. Sure, Yes Man is an easy target for criticism based on the fact it is hardly unique, but that doesn’t mean I didn’t enjoy myself, which is really all I need when it comes to movie watching.

Outside of Carrey, the other bonus is Zooey Deschanel who seems to become more and more likable every time I see her. She just seems like such a sweet girl and she fills the part perfectly here as the picture of innocence whose heart has been broken in the past yet she lives her life with a carefree abandon, which meshes well with Carl’s new found freedom. John Michael Higgins has a funny little role as the man who introduces Carl to “Yes” and Bradley Cooper (Wedding Crashers) and Danny Masterson (“That ’70s Show”) are relatively harmless in supporting roles as Carl’s friends, even though they provide pretty much zero laughs.

I haven’t been as down on Carrey as most have since I did enjoy Fun with Dick and Jane in 2005, but it really all depends on if you still think he is funny. If you enjoyed Liar Liar and are ready for what really equates to a sequel then jump right in, this one will serve you well. A lot of the jokes don’t feel all that “new”, but I was shocked to see how close some of the jokes rub up against an R-rating with some seriously questionable moments. One in particular involves a little old lady and the removal of her dentures as she wants to do Carl a favor for helping him out – you can assume what happens beyond that point.

This won’t be the film to turn Jim Carrey’s career around, but it will be interesting to watch the box-office and see just how much influence he still has on general audiences. It’s interesting to see how so many have turned on the star since Liar Liar in 1997 which was a hit with critics and scored $181 million at the box-office. Bruce Almighty earned $242 million in 2003, but since then he really hasn’t had a break out hit. Yes Man is funny, but its couple of moments of questionable PG-13 humor may be its ultimate downfall with the more family friendly crowd, which typically turn films like this into bonafide blockbusters.



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