Jim Carrey plays Carl Allen, a man on the wrong side of 40 who’s life isn’t working out for the best… Carl Allen spends his days working at a job currently going nowhere, he’s depressed most of the time and spends a lot of energy on avoiding people including his friends. This avoidance habit gets to the point where he starts to lose his friends who start to tire from his constant excuses on why he can never spend time with them. He always has a “thing” going on, which turns out to be him going home to be alone. The last straw comes when he misses his best friend’s engagement party (played by Bradley Cooper) who threatens to end the friendship unless things change. Carrey’s character is also divorced, not seeing anyone and constantly says no to any offers of getting out and having a real life.
Carl bumps into an old buddy of his who seems to be living life to the fullest since he’s attended a “Yes!” seminar and convinces Carrey’s character to check it out. Once at the seminar, Carrey is singled out by the charismatic head of the Yes movement (Terence Stamp) who challenges him to say yes to everything, no matter what it is. Carrey agrees and starts to apply the Yes edict to every opportunity whether he’s interested or not. From there his life takes off – helping homeless people, taking flying lessons, learning Korean, etc. And on the story goes from there ultimately leading to a new girlfriend, a new vibrant relationship with his friends and some opportunities at his job. He finds yes to be the answer to his problems only to discover it’s not really the answer to everything and that he ultimately has to make his own choices instead of letting one word dictate his life…
Overall, the movie is ok, but unfortunately we’ve seen this story in many ways before. I’m up for movies like this, but this one turned out to be bit pedestrian and formulaic. In fact we’ve seen Carrey play variations to this same character in films such as Bruce Almighty, Liar Liar, and The Truman Show. There’s really nothing offered in the way of surprises and the movie plays out pretty much as you’d expect with an anti-climatic finish. Carrey’s performance is average – a bit less manic and a little more depressed than usual. Zooey Deschanel is Allison the love interest and is her usual quirky-but-cute character, also a bit watered down.
The writing is as I mentioned formulaic and predictable; it seems like they just made this movie because an executive somewhere said: “Hey, we haven’t made a 30’s/40’s guy feel good film in about 6 months with Jim Carrey, so we’re due” and then they just burped this one out to get it done and cash in as best they could. The acting and directing are ok, but nothing that stands out or is even very memorable. There are a lot of other films like this out there that feel more genuine and less manufactured than Yes Man, I’d say yes to films like It’s a Wonderful Life, Joe Somebody, or Bruce Almighty instead of this one.
reviewed by Sean McKnight