Yes Man – Review

Say “Maybe” to this comedy

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Director: Peyton Reed
Notable Cast:
Jim Carrey, Danny Masterson, Bradley Cooper, Terrance Stamp, Rhys Darby, Zooey Deschanel

Any actor can be considered daring for taking a controversial role, but rarely does an actor get publicity for taking less money or truly putting a personal stake into a film’s success. Mel Gibson’s extended family 10 generation over will probably never have to work again thanks to the actor singlehandedly financing The Passion of the Christ. The one thing about Yes Man that seems to be overlooked is that Jim Carrey’s salary is directly related to the film’s success. Forgoing a paycheck for the work, Carrey will only make any money on the film if it’s a success. It’s a gamble the vast majority of actors probably wouldn’t take, especially in a tighter economy. It’s a gigantic risk, but Carrey is accustomed to those. On a hot comedic streak a decade ago, Carrey branched out into dramatic roles to avoid being stuck as just a comedian. It’s the equivalent to betting against the market and for the most part Carrey has been a winner. Yes Man represents a huge commercial risk for the actor as opposed to a critical one.

Carl Allen (Carrey) is a sheltered man who refuses to indulge in any aspect of his life. After his wife left him three years, Carl avoids anything and says no to everything including his best friend (Bradley Cooper). When a meeting with an old friend leads him to a self help guru (Terrance Stamp) convinces him to say “yes” to every opportunity afforded him, Carl decides to take that advice and does everything possible that is asked of him. This does have some consequences, though a relationship developed with a beautiful woman (Zooey Deschanel) are a bit more positive than the others.

This is an odd film in a way as it’s a Jim Carrey comedy that seeks to appeal to an older audience yet seemingly embraces all the antics and physical comedy that made him a top comedian. Yes Man tries to walk the same fine line that Liar Liar did many years ago, with Carrey trying to use more gags that aim for a higher comic level than the silly sight gags that took him into the stratosphere where he currently resides. There are a lot of times where Carrey works gags multiple times and finds ways to make them funnier the more often he uses them. Carrey is definitely on the top of his game in this film as he’s truly working hard. There isn’t any aspect of the film where Carrey isn’t on top of his game, keeping the film on task.

The problem is that the film’s screenplay isn’t quite up to the task as it starts out as a zany comedy but falls squarely into romantic comedy territory midway through. It makes for an awkward transition and Peyton Reed really doesn’t handle it effectively. The film’s story stutters and stops in noticeable segments as a talented cast is saddled with a screenplay that doesn’t do them justice. The few major plot points that are needed aren’t set up very strongly and are pretty transparent; they don’t exist to help the story, just to progress it, and it makes the film weaker because of it leading to the requisite happy ending.

Yes Man is a huge risk for Jim Carrey financially, as his potential payday lies directly on how good of a film it is. It’s a solid film, and Carrey is on his game, but it doesn’t really cross the line into great comedy. In a year that has had plenty of great comedies, this is a solid honorable mention amongst a crowded field.


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