Saying no to the "Yes Man"

by Eric Melin on December 22, 2008

in Print Reviews

Nothing I write in this movie review will convince you whether or not you should see the new Jim Carrey comedy “Yes Man.”

Let me explain.

I’ve seen the film, so let me tell you this much: You already know whether you want to see it because you’ve learned everything you need to know from its ad campaign.

carrey deschanel yes manYou’ve already guessed correctly that it’s a lot like “Liar Liar,” except this time he suddenly has to say “yes” to everything instead of being magically forced to tell the truth all the time. After seeing clips of Carrey bungee jumping and saying yes to learning Korean, you probably thought this development would lead to all kinds of fish-out-of-water situations. You were right!

You also may have noticed that his romantic interest in the film, Zooey Deschanel, looks a whole helluva lot younger than him. Right again. Weirdly—uh oh, I’m about to tell you something you don’t already know here—she’s exactly 18 years younger than him. (They have the same birthday.) She’s not the only one. His two best friends in the movie, played by Bradley Cooper and Danny Masterson, are also inappropriately young. The whole thing’s a little creepy, as if director Peyton Reed (“The Break-Up,” “Bring It On”) were trying desperately to hide Carrey’s age rather than incorporate it into the story.

If Carrey’s repressed loan officer Carl has trouble saying yes to anything in his life, then Deschanel’s free spirit Allison will surely help him. She rides a scooter, sings in a silly avant-garde band, and teaches a photography class while jogging. You can see where this is headed.

carrey guzman yes manThe movie has its typical moments—many of them quite funny—where Carrey throws himself into a new experience, but this is the kind of film where one montage makes him an expert at everything he tries so that he an use it later with hilarious results. All of a sudden he’s a good guitar player and he can speak Korean—I wonder if any later scenes will call for anyone who can do those things well?

Carrey can do other things. He doesn’t have to always play the manic slapstick role. He proved that in “Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind.” Now he just needs to choose better roles and find a way to age gracefully—to keep his comic style intact and keep his integrity. He may want to look to Bill Murray for inspiration.

The biggest problem with “Yes Man” is that it never feels even remotely real. It’s a series of sketches (the ones with New Zealander Rhys Darby as his nerdy boss are usually the funniest) that never add up to anything. The formula says that Carrey can’t have fun saying yes to everything forever, but when it comes time for the big realization, it’s especially hollow. Not only does the wedge that’s driven between he and Deschanel border on ridiculous, but Carrey’s big lesson is “You can’t say yes to absolutely everything all the time, but you should say yes to life.” Since that little nugget of wisdom was apparent from the beginning of the movie, “Yes Man” feels, in its final moments, like something you wholly expected and maybe even wanted, but now that it’s over, why did you bother?

In other words, nothing I wrote in this movie review will convince you whether or not you should see “Yes Man.” Either you’re in the mood for some mid-nineties Jim Carrey comfort food that’s high on sugar and low on content, or you’re not. It’s as simple as that.

Eric is the Editor-in-Chief of Scene-Stealers.com and writes the Screen Stealers column for The Pitch. He’s President of the KCFCC, and drummer for The Dead Girls and Ultimate Fakebook. He is also Air Guitar World Champion Mean Melin. Eric goes to 11. Follow him at:

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{ 8 comments… read them below or add one }

1 Jon Sholly December 22, 2008 at 10:31 am

Doesn’t this also reek of an eerie remake of “Stranger Than Fiction” complete with the “nerd gets out of comfort zone to get cool and/or the girl” angle as well as casting the exact same “girl”? Bizarre.

Reply

2 Jon Sholly December 22, 2008 at 10:31 am

Doesn’t this also reek of an eerie remake of “Stranger Than Fiction” complete with the “nerd gets out of comfort zone to get cool and/or the girl” angle as well as casting the exact same “girl”? Bizarre.

Reply

3 Eric Melin December 22, 2008 at 2:08 pm

Yeah, Maggie Gyllenhaal was noticeably younger than Will Ferrell too. Thing is, this movie didn’t have to feature that age discrepancy at all. It could have been been populated with fortysomethings like Carrey, but it isn’t– because they want to skew towards that precious younger demographic!

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4 Eric Melin December 22, 2008 at 2:08 pm

Yeah, Maggie Gyllenhaal was noticeably younger than Will Ferrell too. Thing is, this movie didn’t have to feature that age discrepancy at all. It could have been been populated with fortysomethings like Carrey, but it isn’t– because they want to skew towards that precious younger demographic!

Reply

5 Bruce Copeland December 22, 2008 at 2:52 pm

I found the plot to be a little tired, but entertaining. But it was not fresh. It seemed like a formula Jim Carrey movie in the vein of Bruce Almighty (in reference to the romance aspect of it) as well as Liar Liar (in reference to the slap stick aspect of the film). It will be profitable and give the crowds the laughs they are looking for over the holidays and in a slow recession, but its not breaking any ground.

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6 Bruce Copeland December 22, 2008 at 2:52 pm

I found the plot to be a little tired, but entertaining. But it was not fresh. It seemed like a formula Jim Carrey movie in the vein of Bruce Almighty (in reference to the romance aspect of it) as well as Liar Liar (in reference to the slap stick aspect of the film). It will be profitable and give the crowds the laughs they are looking for over the holidays and in a slow recession, but its not breaking any ground.

Reply

7 JasmineGreenTea January 21, 2009 at 12:07 pm

Was Awesome this movie, Jim is so funny.

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8 JasmineGreenTea January 21, 2009 at 12:07 pm

Was Awesome this movie, Jim is so funny.

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