Just for Laughs
As I write this review of Yes Man, Jim Carrey stares at me from an eight-by-ten photograph perched on a shelf to my right -- and signed “Spank you very much!” Carrey sent this to me a few years ago in response to my letter offering him suggestions about his career. I’m glad he’s following some of my recommendations by using his extraordinary talents in amusing movies like Yes Man.
Happily, Carrey romps through this movie with his usual kinetic energy and enthusiasm. He plays Carl Allen, a formerly closed-off man who discovers that saying “Yes” to every opportunity brings him multiple benefits. This “carpe diem” theme serves as a showcase for Carrey’s comedy skills. When his character breaks out of his shell, he plays the guitar, sings, speaks Korean, speeds on a motorcycle, overdoses on “Red Bull,” attends off-the-wall concerts, plans a wedding shower, and dresses like Harry Potter for a costume party put on by his silly fanboy boss (Rhys Darby).
Accepting the affirmative also results in our hero meeting Allison (Zooey Deschanel), a lovely young woman with strange interests, such as taking pictures of others while she’s running. Of course, romance blossoms between these two -- and it’s great fun watching them get to know each other. Carrey and Deschanel (Elf ) project a delightful screen chemistry here, and I’d like to see them in more films together. (I felt the same way about Carrey and Tea Leoni in Fun with Dick and Jane, but sorry to say, they haven’t paired up again.)
Despite Mae West’s belief that “too much of a good thing can be wonderful,” sometimes it can lead to serious problems. In Yes Man, that’s exactly what happens. Will Carl learn how to be more reasonable about the opportunities he accepts? If so, how will that impact his relationship with Allison? Those two questions may make the movie sound like a downer, but don’t worry. It’s designed strictly for laughs -- and there are plenty of them in this new Carrey comedy.
While not a perfect film (for example, Fionnula Flanagan, so great in The Others, appears in a couple of crude and insulting scenes), Yes Man is highly entertaining. Besides Carrey and Deschanel, actors who add to the movie’s appeal include: Terrence Stamp (Wanted), almost scary as a self-help guru; Bradley Cooper (Wedding Crashers), suitably worried as Carl’s best friend; and the always funny John Michael Higgins (The Break-Up) as the man who introduces Carl to the “Yes Man” philosophy.
Director Peyton Reed (Down with Love) moves Yes Man along with a lively pace, and the screenplay by Nicholas Stoller (Fun with Dick and Jane), Jarrad Paul (TV’s Living with Fran), and Andrew Mogel -- from Danny Wallace’s book -- boasts witty dialogue, especially the banter between the characters played by Carrey and Deschanel.
I consider Yes Man a welcome movie gift during this 2008 holiday season.
(Released by Warner Bros. and rated “PG-13” for crude sexual humor, language and brief nudity.)