Yes Man Directed by: Peyton Reed Cast: Jim Carrey, Zooey Deschanel, Bradley Cooper, Rhys Darby Running Time: 1 hr, 44 minutes Rating: PG-13
Plot: Carl Allen is a pensive, heartbroken nobody who avoids all contact with the outside world. Though his friends insist he burst out from a cocoon of stymieing depression, Allen doesn’t see the worth of “getting back out there.” When a free spirited friend from his past arrives, he introduces Carl to a world in which all questions are answered with “yes.”
Who’s It For?: Fans of an emerging genre of comedy that attempts to transcend all facets of human emotion. When Judd Apatow ushered in “raunchy, thinking man’s humor,” it was just the beginning. Now, each time a new director sets out to create something funny, he also tries to get his audience to look inward as intently as they do the screen.
Expectations: When Jim Carrey relies on what broke him into the business (an uncanny, gaudy impression of Jerry Lewis), he rarely fails to break the nine-figure mark. When its intent is to get his fans thinking, the critics have largely remained on the fence, and his fans—in their homes. Though Yes Man is most certainly marketed as a comedy, its dramatic undertones occasionally overtake it. Carrey has flexed his chameleonic muscles before, and it’s always been a risky card trick.
Jim Carrey as Carl Allen: When a man has two faces, he rarely decides to reveal both sides of himself to the outside world. Carrey is an exception to that rule, but that doesn’t necessarily mean he’s full of only good ideas. He’s as bankable a movie star as you’re likely to see (ever), but for a man whose ego has grown exponentially since Ace Ventura first shoveled catch-phrases-galore down our post-grunge throats, you would have to expect him to occasionally fall back on what brought him fortune and fame. The sunshine over his career as a dramatic leading-man doesn’t seem to be eternal. As a Yes Man, he just looks tired of walking such a tricky tightrope. Score: 6
Zooey Deschanel as Alison: Though she may never be an Oscar-winner, Ms. Deschanel should win an award for being able to perform while appearing high. It’s tough to judge her performance because it always looks as though she’s just shown up in her normal clothes for every scene. It doesn’t appear to be acting—more a representation of what cooler-than-thou young actresses have, and you don’t. She does banter better with Carey than most females have in the past (cough, Lauren Holly, cough). Regardless, her eyes are welcoming, her dialect is the right kind of flighty, and she’s perfected the Indie-pin-up shtick, but she has yet to fill a role so much as own it. Score: 7
Bradley Cooper as Peter: Journeyman character-actors are a dime a dozen in Hollywood. Cooper has yet to break free of this mold. Before he can do whatever it is Paul Giamatti and Phillip Seymour Hoffman did to go from being background music-esque actors to the forefront of Hollywood stardom, Cooper has to stretch his talent a bit more. Yes, he’s comfortable up there. Sure, he can hold his own with A-listers, but do we care? Not yet. The Peter character’s relationship with Carl is never explored, and it’s difficult to invest any sympathy in a character you barely recall when he’s off screen. Score: 4
Rhys Darby as Norman: If you’re not already a fan of Flight of the Conchords, you should be, and Darby’s Norman will show you why. Though he doesn’t extend his flare for dry humor any further than he does on the HBO series, it doesn’t matter. He steals every scene he shares with Carey, and could very well be the next big thing as a comic talent in Hollywood. Score: 9
Talking: Fewer Carey-isms works. Though, what this film lacks in catchphrases, it makes up for in silly one-liners a seventh grader would write in a note to a friend. You would think this would be made up for with intermittent physical humor (also a Carey trademark), but this isn’t the case. There is a certain sense of exhaustion that plagues much of this film, and conversational moments seem more force-fed than relaxed, and enjoyable to witness from the audience. Score: 6
Sights Much of Yes Man was shot in the Silver lake area. For those of you who don’t know what I’m talking about, (a) you do now, and (b) you want to move there. The East Los Angeles area still needs a face lift, but this film airbrushes it as well as any film has in recent memory. Griffith Park stars in several scenes, and hasn’t had this much featured screen time since James Dean wound up in a knife fight ... without a cause. Score: 8
Sounds: It feels like they put a slightly muted microphone over Carey’s usually gaudy audio delivery. This is kind of nice, but also unexpected, and this isn’t always a good thing. Many will expect Yes Man to be nothing more than an updated version of Liar, Liar, and it isn’t because much of the bombastic personality Carey slings in the earlier film has been tempered. Rather than hearing him land punches… on himself, you hear a nervous, introverted man begin to loosen his own reigns, with a more depleted fervor than long-time Ace Ventura fans are used to. Score: 6
Best Scene: Once Carl has acquired the necessary “life coaching” to become a “yes man,” he loses his fear to accept any challenge that may present himself. On a night out with the guys, the reigns are completely off, and it turns into a full-on dude-fest during which three best friends drink themselves into an animated stupor, and Carey loses his sense of right and wrong. When a young lady asks if she can order a drink, he barely allows her to finish speaking before French-kissing the crap out of her. Of course, the hottie-bo-body has a beefcake boyfriend who’s none too pleased with Carl’s steroid-laden self-confidence. Mayhem ensues.
Ending: Blah. It’s about as obvious as Hollywood can concoct it. Try and enjoy the rare instances during which you feel your money was well spent. The ending will not make you happy you just dropped a Hamilton.
Questions: Will this movie break $50 million? Is Jim Carey’s run as comedy’s shinning prince running out of gas? Will Rhys Darby “rise” to Hollywood stardom? Will this movie make us nostalgic for the Liar, Liar days? You make the call.
OVERALL As a staunch Jim Carey fan, I find it difficult to bad mouth my comic hero. That being said, this film was a laborious viewing experience. The humor-engine never shifted out of neutral, and all actors involved (expect for Darby) just looked lucky enough to add such a wide-release to their resumes. The story didn’t go anywhere without falling into the cliched traps other narrow-minded comedies usually default into. You know that moment where you’re watching a film, and you suddenly burst out laughing because you’d just witnessed a unique slant on how to deliver a line? Yeah, that never happens in this film. There were times when I leaned forward in anticipation for such an event, and was always thrust back into my seat with disappointment. I was bored half the time, and never felt challenged to care about any of the characters. Yes man? No, thanks.
Final Score: 5/10