More in-depth film festival coverage than any other website!
Home Reviews  Articles  Release Dates Coming Soon  DVD  Top 20s Criticwatch  Search
Public Forums  Festival Coverage  Contests About 

Overall Rating

Awesome: 0%
Worth A Look: 17.65%
Average: 23.53%
Pretty Bad52.94%
Total Crap: 5.88%

4 reviews, 10 user ratings

Latest Reviews

Aniara by Jay Seaver

John Wick: Chapter 3 - Parabellum by Jay Seaver

Long Day's Journey Into Night (2018) by Jay Seaver

Shadow by Jay Seaver

Be Natural: The Untold Story of Alice Guy-Blaché by Jay Seaver

Hustle, The by Peter Sobczynski

Detective Pikachu by Peter Sobczynski

Mope by Jay Seaver

Tone-Deaf by Jay Seaver

Bolden by Jay Seaver

subscribe to this feed

Yes Man
[] Buy posters from this movie
by Erik Childress

"Erik, Do You Want To See Yes Man?...NO!"
2 stars

Friends of mine have a running joke whenever we’re out or on vacation about my resistance to trying new things. The gamut runs from the extremes of skydiving to some oddball food either not designed for human consumption or for people who would rather not spend $20 on something untested when a perfectly good chicken sandwich is waiting for them. “Erik, you want to have some fun…NO,” is generally how the gag goes. So the concept of a film where a curmudgeon commits himself to saying “YES” to everything he comes in contact with could either be a liberating comic fable or an exercise in extreme horror that would make torture porn feel like that warm chicken sandwich. Unfortunately for Yes Man, neither the writers, stars or director Peyton Reed were able to make that sort of commitment either which way and the end result is a middle-concept time waster that really isn’t even worth saying “MAYBE SO” to.

Carl Allen (Jim Carrey) has gone into a funk since separating from his wife. He doesn’t want to be bothered despite constant calls from his best friend, Peter (Bradley Cooper), to come out. He would rather stay in, rent a couple DVDs and then go to work at his bank where his job as a loan officer gives him plenty of practice in saying “no” to people. One day an old buddy, Nick (John Michael Higgins), sees him at lunch and tells Carl about how his life has changed ever since he became a “yes man.” No matter what the circumstance or how bizarre the question or opportunity is, you just say “yes” and roll with it; which Nick demonstrates after goading Carl into getting him to throw a rock through the bank’s window.

Carl decides to attend one of the seminars, presided over by Terrence Bundley (Terence Stamp), who singles him out for ridicule while the cultish crowd all but shout “one of us, one of us.” Carl doesn’t entirely buy into the theory but is tested when a homeless guy asks to give him a ride. The act of reluctant kindness leads him to meet Allison (Zooey Deschanel), the kind of freewheelin’ spirit that are usually offered up to downtrodden, uptight males in the movies. This stroke of luck, accompanied by nothing but trouble when he hesitates or says “no”, warms him to automatically do anything as if he were Morgan Spurlock being asked to super size everything. It includes staying out all night, going places he normally wouldn’t and approving every loan that comes across his desk, which somehow leads to a promotion rather than a national recession. All the while his relationship with Allison continues and there’s not much more to say.

While the film sets itself to be another Liar, Liar-like vehicle for Carrey, Yes Man is more in the territory of wanting to be this generation’s Groundhog Day but is closer to this generation’s Bucket List. The suggestion that Carl could possibly be brainwashed into going along with this lifestyle shift is a base concept but a potentially funnier one even if it made the Liar, Liar comparisons inevitable. Instead by having anything but a “yes” trigger calamitous consequences for Carl, the film invites the idea that fate has taken control away from Carl to live, even under his own rules. Forcing his brain to do things he would rather avoid can be funny, as it was when eternal loser George Costanza improved his life by doing the opposite of every wrong decision he's ever made on Seinfeld.. Conducting the world to conspire against Carl by telling him that all the other decisions are the right ones is a little insulting.

The reason why there’s time to even contemplate more complex fate-based issues during the film is because it just simply isn’t that funny. None of the “yes” decisions lead to any outlandish situations (save for an oral encounter with his 60ish neighbor.) The film’s comic centerpiece is a thwarted suicide sing-along to Third Eye Blind’s Jumper and dreadfully tries to wring laughs from Carl’s boss (Rhys Darby), a fantasy-loving doofus whose desire to be liked makes The Office’s Michael Scott look like Kevin Spacey in Swimming with Sharks. It’s casually revealed that Carl gives his apartment away because he was asked and he begins learning things and helping people in true Groundhog Day fashion. The difference being that Murray’s Phil Connors was part of a midlife crisis that was about overcoming selfishness and a future destined to loneliness. Carl Allen just wanting to be left alone because he’s feeling down is not the same and any lesson learned comes courtesy of a pro-cult movement trying not to upset “the covenant”, which as run by someone who looks like Terence Stamp, may not be the best life solution as proven by his similar work with Mindhead, the thinly-disguised Scientology racket from Bowfinger.

Even Carrey’s shtick appears rather desperate here, trying at half-speed to add a little lunacy into the proceedings – but if you can’t make Carrey hopped up on Red Bull funny in any manner then maybe its time screenwriters Nicholas Stoller, Jarrad Paul and Andrew Mogel either ignored their own philosophy or used it as a springboard to just go nuts with it. The scenes between Carrey and Deschanel have a certain charm to them, but are so sincere they seem directly out of another movie. Zooey isn’t given a whole lot to do but be the cute, cool chick but her natural appeal is still enough and far trumps her half-retard work in M. Night Shyamalan’s The Happening earlier this year.

The premise for Yes Man comes from Danny Wallace’s book of the same name, which was a Spurlock-like ordeal where he committed himself to saying “yes” to everything for a year. A gimmick for sure, but one that could have branched into so many more comic and poignant possibilities. There’s no joy or special feelings after Carl helps people. Where’s the danger in being a good person in the times we live in? This isn’t exactly Canada where people leave their doors unlocked. Yes Man finds a cop-out for the happy-go-lucky lifestyle, not in the fiery confrontational Mike Leigh way, but a general whitewash cop-out from a headmaster that has probably done more harm to society than good. Yes Man couldn’t be bothered to be a satire of anarchism the way the actual Yes Men are (look ‘em up.) Much like the self-help guru it enables, it exists solely to get your money like a good little follower and then ask you to ignore the doubt that comes with having plunked down exorbitant theater prices for a barely average comedy.

link directly to this review at
originally posted: 12/19/08 16:00:00
[printer] printer-friendly format  

User Comments

5/03/18 Louise I was amused! Quite a clever idea, if rather far-fetched. 4 stars
1/31/13 Charles Tatum Deschanel is good, Carrey phones it in. 3 stars
6/19/11 Jennifer B. pretty funny 4 stars
5/24/09 mr.mike Jim does what he can , making for an OK rental. 3 stars
4/08/09 Dan Dull and pointless. Not funny, not romantic, not memorable. Why was this movie made? 1 stars
2/27/09 Luisa Funny, romantic movie 4 stars
2/15/09 Anthony Feor Jim Carrey does what he has done in every other film in Yes Man and it's still funny. 4 stars
1/04/09 Samantha Pruitt pretty funny for what it was! Rhys Darby was hilarious! 4 stars
12/20/08 Shawna It wasn't hilarious but it was freakin adorable. A GREAT romantic comedy. 4 stars
Note: Duplicate, 'planted,' or other obviously improper comments
will be deleted at our discretion. So don't bother posting 'em. Thanks!
Your Name:
Your Comments:
Your Location: (state/province/country)
Your Rating:

Discuss this movie in our forum

  19-Dec-2008 (PG-13)
  DVD: 07-Apr-2009


  DVD: 07-Apr-2009

Home Reviews  Articles  Release Dates Coming Soon  DVD  Top 20s Criticwatch  Search
Public Forums  Festival Coverage  Contests About Australia's Largest Movie Review Database.
Privacy Policy | HBS Inc. | |   

All data and site design copyright 1997-2017, HBS Entertainment, Inc.
Search for
reviews features movie title writer/director/cast