Jim Carrey picks a winner with this energetic, fun film about embracing life
Most of us can identify, at least a little bit, with Carl. He’s down on his luck, stuck in a rut, happier renting DVDs and watching them at home alone than going out and being with people, trying new things. Carl (Jim Carrey) is so bad, in fact, he needs a near act of God to pull him out of the doldrums. He gets it in the form of a “Yes” seminar.
The whole idea behind saying yes to everything is obviously silly, and reminiscent of Carrey’s earlier role in Liar, Liar, in which he couldn’t tell a lie. Despite that, Yes Man is surprisingly fresh and, most important, fun. The message is simple—if you open yourself up to opportunities, you never know what good stuff might come your way—but positive in a way that few movies are these days.
When Carl leaves the seminar, he is immediately confronted with questions to which he would ordinarily say no. Some are dumb, others hilarious, but all of them revelatory in that they lead him down a path to general happiness. All of a sudden Carl takes up a dozen hobbies—playing guitar, flying, speaking Korean—each of which open doors not previously available to him.
One of those doors is the one to a girl’s heart, that of the free-spirited Allison (Zooey Deschanel). Another is that of friendship, as his two closest friends (Bradley Cooper and Danny Masterson) had almost given up on him.
Carrey is predictably hilarious here, and the comedy is clearly aimed at adults (he relies less on his facial muscles and more on timing and dialogue). Deschanel is fun to watch as always, her charm understated. And some of Carl’s acquaintances stand out from the others, in particular his hopelessly dorky boss (Rhys Darby) and an old pal who turns him on to the Yes mentality (John Michael Higgins).
Overall, the message of Yes Man is so uplifting, and Carrey and friends so energetic and downright funny, that this film breaks away from many of the other comedies of the year. It’s silly, but perfectly good fun, at the expense of no one.