Fabulous idea but, for the talents of Jim Carrey, not nearly up to his capacity.
“Yes Man,” which essentially suggests that saying yes to everybody and everything every time is bound to get funny results, forgets that the immense comic potential of Carey does nonetheless need situations with critical mass, that is, powder keg ingredients. Lots of them. His “Liar, Liar” had them. This doesn’t. It surely evokes many a chuckle but Carrey isn’t about chuckles; he’s about raucous bellylaughs. Chuckles are good when the overall, ongoing plot rolls on an undercurrent of humor. This does not have such a drive, rather depending on brief skits of self-contained comedy.
So what we’ve got here is a now-up, now-down comic mood. We wait futilely for Carrey to let loose. And y’know what’s conspicuously missing? You guessed it — sex. A yes-yes-yes orientation in a personality is just asking for high hilarity in sensually charged temptations. But where are they?
Carrey plays Carl Allen, a woebegone bank loans officer who’s still in grief over his divorce three years ago. His pals do their darndest to get him to snap out of it, to no avail. He has formed around himself a virtual cocoon, a shell woven and armored with replies of “No” to every friendly attempt at an inroad. His life centers on DVD rentals.
Well, now, here’s an old friend from years ago who tells him of a self-help program in which the guru (Terence Stamp) demands just one principle to guide one’s everyday life, that is, just say yes to each and every decision that comes before you. The forcefully willed guru makes it a covenant with Carl. Do it!
Not surprisingly, saying yes to one and all does not necessarily make life all that rosy and indeed raises many complications. Like how about, in connection with his bank position, making loans (in these meltdown times!) to every person who applies. Or, more simply, offering to pay for his barfly pals’ drinks.
The plot does allow, rather awkwardly, quirky characters who ostensibly offer intrinsic comedy, like his doofus boss who loves stupid nicknames and throwing parties based on movies.
The romance interest is OK, nothing special. Seems Carl, by chance after helping out a homeless dude, gets to meet Allison (Zooey Deschanel), whose free-spirited energy charges up Carl’s own new positive attitude on life.
Well gee, it’s the holidays, you’re already revved up for things light of heart. Stray into this movie and come out with not only some workable, if insufficient, mirth but certainly many ideas that you’d much rather have seen done with this concept.
“Yes Man” (quality rating: 6 out of 10)
Director: Peyton Reed
Screenplay: Nicholas Stoller, Jarrad Paul, Andrew Mogel, based on the book by Danny Wallace
Cast: Jim Carrey, Rhys Darby, Bradley Cooper, Zooey Deschanel, Sasha Alexander
Time: 1 hr., 44 min.
Rating: PG-13 (vulgarity, crude sexual humor, brief nudity)