***1/2 (out of 5)
December 19, 2008
Jim Carrey as CARL ALLEN
Zooey Deschanel as ALLISON
Bradley Cooper as PETER
John Michael Higgins as NICK
Rhys Darby as NORMAN
Danny Masterson as ROONEY
Studio: Warner Bros.
Directed by: Peyton Reed
BY KEVIN CARR
Listen to Kevin’s radio review…
If you read other people’s reviews (as opposed to the best ones out there, courtesy of moi), you’ll see that a lot of critics are complaining about “Yes Man” as being nothing more than a remake of “Liar, Liar.”
They’re right. But I say, “So what?”
“Liar, Liar” was a funny movie, and it’s possibly the best Jim Carrey comedy since itself. If the formula works, then I say it’s okay. After all, didn’t we all wish that “Ace Ventura: When Nature Calls” was a just-as-funny remake of the first “Ace Ventura”?
“Yes Man” is Jim Carrey’s return to what he does best – slapstick comedy. It’s not as far out there as his very early stuff, but it gives him a chance to stretch his comedic legs again. I would much prefer seeing Jim Carrey as a rubber-faced funnyman in a movie designed for just that than to see him explode into fits of comedy in an otherwise serious role.
The story follows Carl Allen (Carrey), a somewhat pathetic middle-aged man who leads a very humdrum life. He is constantly avoiding things and saying no to all opportunities that come his way. After connecting with an old friend who drags him to a self-help seminar, Carl learns to say “Yes!” to any and all opportunities that come his way.
I will happily admit that this is a gimmick film. The plot is rather flimsy and really just serves as a launching pad for Carrey’s antics. After we establish who he is and that he is determined to say yes to everything (which, frankly, we all got from the trailers), the film is nothing more than an excuse for comedy.
But the comedy is funny. In fact, considering this film is opening against a weighty and weepy drama with Will Smith, dropped in the early award season with all these other serious art pieces, I welcome a bit of funny in my movies.
After all, who hasn’t wished that you could arbitrarily say yes to everything that came your way – from Persian Internet wives to riding on a scooter with some cute, fiery girl you just met.
And speaking of that cute, fiery girl on the scooter, what also makes this film work is Carrey’s co-star, Zooey Deschanel, who plays a free-spirited girl he meets during one of his yes binges. I’ve always carried a torch for Deschanel, and while she’s not the classically gorgeous movie star, she has a warmth and beauty that make her seem completely real on screen.
Carrey and Deschanel have a sweet chemistry on screen, and they both have a strong comedic edge. At the same time, they can dip into the dramatic side of things as well, making “Yes Man” a bit of a romantic comedy. In fact, I’d say that “Yes Man” is a better date movie than the current reigning champion, “Four Christmases.”
It’s not Shakespeare, but “Yes Man” is a very funny movie and provides one of the best escapes in theaters right now. It’s Christmas, people. Why does everything have to be so serious this time of year?