Yes Man is the first Jim Carrey comedy since 2005’s mediocre Fun with Dick and Jane. The previews looked decent, but I was more excited for it because Peyton Reed directed it. Reed directed Bring It On and Down With Love; I thought both of those movies showed snappy and stylish directing. Yes Man has it moments and is an enjoyable watch, but it is not a career highlight for either man.
Carrey stars as Carl Allen, a loan officer with a negative outlook on life. He says no to everything, because of this he has no social life, is stuck in a dead-end job, and his wife has left him. One day, he bumps into his old friend Nick (John Michael Higgins). Nick has become a Yes Man, which means he is in a cult that encourages its members to say yes to every opportunity. Nick convinces Carl to come along with him to a Yes Man meeting. Carl is hesitant, but ends up at the meeting. At the meeting, the charismatic leader of the cult Terrence Bundley (Terence Stamp) embarrasses Carl into making a covenant. The covenant between Carl and the universe is that he must say yes to everything. Terrence warns Carl that if says no to things the universe will come down on him.
Carl is still hesitant about being a Yes Man but follows through with the program. After the meeting, he drives a homeless man to the park, lets the homeless man use his cellphone, and gives the man all his cash. He runs out of gas and has to walk back to a gas station. At the station, he meets Allison (Zooey Deschanel) who offers him a ride on her scooter. On the ride, they connect. Back at his car, they kiss. Carl is now convinced that saying yes to everything will work out. He takes guitar lessons, Korean lessons, flying lessons, accepts every invitation, and approves all of his customer’s loans. Through doing these things, he bumps into Allison again and they begin dating. His social life and his life at work improve.
Nevertheless, eventually saying yes to everything does catch up with him. He almost loses his job, Allison leaves him, and something else happens to him that I will not spoil. Carl has to decide whether to continue to be a Yes Man, go back to his old ways, or find a balance in the middle. The ending of the movie is easy to spot from there.
The funniest parts of the movie are when Carl calls upon his new skills or when saying yes puts Carl in weird places. Carl finds a practical use for Korean when he is at a bridal shop preparing for a bridal shower. The shopkeeper is a young Korean woman who is upset that it is never her turn to get married. Carl is able to give her good advice in Korean that calms her down. The funniest bit has to be when a man (Luis Guzman) is about to jump off a building. A bystander asks for someone to help, so Carl has to try. In the man’s apartment, he finds a guitar and coaxes the man down by playing Third Eye Blind’s “Jumper.” Saying yes to everything puts him out of his depth when he finds himself in a barroom brawl and at a Harry Potter themed party.
While the plot is ludicrous, it does move along at a fast pace. People whom Carl help early in the movie come back later to help him which ties the seeming loose ends of plots and characters together nicely. The majority of the jokes hit, and the actors have nice comedic chemistry.
However, at times it feels like Carrey is phoning it in. He is an incredibly gifted physical comedian who also has great control of comedic faces. A few times in the movie, he did not seem to be trying to very hard to find the right pitch for the joke. He overacts (which has been a constant mark against him) or appears to only give a half-hearted effort to the joke. Carrey is so talented, he is still better than the majority of comic actors.
There is nothing particularly stylish or memorable about Peyton Reed’s directing this time around, save for the stunts. There are a few stunts in the film and Reed captures the thrill of actually doing something like racing a Ducati motorcycle or bungee jumping effectively.
Yes Man is not a great movie, or even a great comedy, but it is a fun watch. If you are fan of Jim Carrey it is definitely worth a look.
The DVD features are slim. The 2-Disc version comes with a digital copy for video mp3 players on the second disc. There are two vignettes on the disc, one about working with Carrey on the set, and one about the stunts. In the first, Carrey seems to having more fun on the set than he appears to in the actual movie. The second one briefly explains how some of the stunts were done and shows some production footage of them. This is the best feature on the disc; the logistics of setting up the stunts are interesting.
Other features include Future Sounds: Munchhausen by Proxy, Munchhausen by Proxy music videos, and a Gag Reel. Future Sounds is a mockumentary of Allison’s band in the movie Munchhausen by Proxy in the style of a late ’80s MTV program. It shows Allison and other members of the band at shows, on the road, and recording. It chronicles their success, without ever quantifying whether they are successful or not. It also shows a few clips of ludicrous music videos made for their songs. The mockumentary is tongue-in-cheek and charmingly cheesy. The “music videos” are not full versions of the music videos seen in the mockumentary, but rather extended versions of the song performances in the movie. The Gag Reel is a typical gag reel with many actors flubbing lines, and Jim Carrey acting goofy. Some of the scenes in the gag reel are not in the movie but we only see the mess-ups.
There are no deleted and extended scenes to watch on the disc. There is also no director or actor’s commentary. Considering what audiences have become used to seeing on special edition DVDs these extra features are paltry. None are interesting enough to warrant more than a single viewing.
Yes Man will be released on DVD, Blu-Ray, and On Demand on April 7th. It will also be available on the iTunes store on the same day.