I wanted to say something clever for my title to this review, something like, "Say No to Yes Man" or "Should You See Yes Man? Yes!" But it turns out it isn't that simple. What it should say is something like, "Is Yes Man worth seeing? Meh." After having watched the film, I have to say that Yes Man is a mediocre movie, nothing more, nothing less. While it will certainly make you laugh a few times, script issues and ridiculous plot twists make Yes Man one of the most middling films I've seen since Hancock.
The film follows Carl (Jim Carrey), a sarcastic naysayer who rejects life opportunities in favor of sitting by his lonesome in his apartment and watching DVD's. After attending a lecture on the power of "yes," Carl makes a covenant to grab hold of every opportunity he can and never say no.
Let's just get this out of the way. That premise is absurd. It may be one of the silliest story ideas I've heard in quite some time, but this is a film where you just have to go with the flow. You can't ponder over how utterly insane the whole premise is and just enjoy the ride. However, the real problem with the story isn't that Carl never says "no," but rather the idea that saying "yes" will always lead to a positive outcome and saying "no" will always lead to the opposite. For example, after Carl breaks his covenant and says "no" for the first time, his shirt gets stuck in a door, which causes him to yank it out and fall down a flight of stairs, only to land face to face with a growling pit bull. It was this divine fate in the film that was difficult to swallow.
Still, I got into it, but just as I was becoming comfortable with the whole idea of a "yes man," the film took a ludicrous twist that pulled me right back out to where I began. While Carl and his girlfriend, Allison (Zooey Deschanel), are in the airport, Carl is taken into custody and accused of being a terrorist. Why? Because he took flying lessons, learned Korean (and therefore he must be working with North Korea), approved a loan to start a fertilizer company (bombs -- natch), and took a spontaneous trip to Lincoln, Nebraska. It turned out the FBI has been suspicious of him, which is all thanks to his new found adventures being a "yes man." This is the moment where his relationship falls apart and is a vital (albeit predictable) component to the story, but it was too far fetched to be believed. Whereas I eventually accepted the idea of the "yes man," I couldn't find it in myself to accept this idiotic turn of events.
In other words, this script is a mess. The story flails about wildly trying to grasp onto something meaningful to keep it flowing, but grabs only air. Every single moment in this film was surrounded by the feeling that the writers had no idea how to progress from one scene to the next and just decided to be as over-the-top as possible hoping that nobody would notice their inability to create a coherent story.
Still, Jim Carrey manages to make what would otherwise be a miserably unfunny movie somewhat entertaining. In fact, I'm going to recommend it, although only mildly. The fact is that the man is a severely underrated actor. He was terrific in Man on the Moon and excellent in one of my favorite romance movies of all time, Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind. In this regard, it's kind of sad to see him resort back to his usual shtick, regardless of how funny it may be. But Carrey is undeniably talented and he elevates this mediocre material far above what it deserves.
The whole time I watched this film, I thought of Liar Liar. Essentially, it's the same idea. In that movie, he couldn't tell a lie and in this one, he can't say no, or rather he can, but doesn't. But the differences between those two pictures is that Liar Liar was expertly crafted and Carrey was in his heyday. Yes Man just seems tired, chugging along unevenly for its duration. It has about 45 minutes of good material and attempts to stretch it into a feature length film and it just doesn't work. The only thing that saves Yes Man is Carrey's comedic brilliance. Without him, this movie would be a complete waste of time. Now, it's merely forgettable. Still no award winner, but decent nonetheless. While it isn't imperative that you seek this one out in the theater, if you can catch it one day on DVD, Yes Man may be worth a look.
Yes Man receives 2.5/5