3 January 2009 | jon.h.ochiai
Say "Yes" to "Yes Man"
"Yes Man" is surprisingly good, and here the punch line is everything. Jim Carrey is great in Director Peyton Reed's hysterical romantic comedy. Zooey Deschanel is amazingly charming and quirky. In "Yes Man" Carrey plays Carl, who has been divorced for 3 years from Stephanie (flighty and hot Molly Sims) and has an uninspired job as a loan officer at Brea Savings in Los Angeles. Carl has pretty much checked out in life. To that end he says "No" to all invites. Carl even forgets to attend his best friend Peter's (funny Bradley Cooper) engagement party. An old buddy invites Carl to a seminar given by Tony Robbins-like self help guru Terrence Bundley (charismatic Terrence Stamp). Terrence invites Carl to accept the "covenant" to say "Yes" to everything in life. Reluctantly, Carl accepts.
However, there is a point to the screenplay by Nicholas Stoller, Jarrad Paul, and Andrew Mogel based on the book by Danny Wallace. In a great conversation with Carl and Terrence later in the story Carl asks, "So this is bullsh*t?" Carl has been so not present in his own life. Obviously, saying "Yes" mindlessly to everything is ridiculous. What if taking on saying "Yes" as an operating practice is a way of practicing being enrolled in life. When you are enrolled in life, and become enrolling, you are now open to a new realm of possibility. Reed and his writers present this transformed perspective in both a hysterical and touching manner.
Saying "Yes" immediately does not seem to make a difference for Carl. Carl ends up giving a ride and all of his money to Homeless Guy (funny Brent Briscoe). With his cell phone dead and his car empty on gas, Carl ventures miles to a gas station where he meets free-spirited scooter girl Allison (Deschanel). Allison gives Carl a ride, and leaves an indelible mark on his heart. In not the most linear or obvious ways, Carl soon embraces saying "Yes". Peter asks, "So you say 'yes' to everything?" Carl confesses, "I wasn't open to stuff. Now I am
Carl eventually is fated to meet up with Allison. Carl tells Peter that "
She is so not me." There in lies the genius. There is a quiet moment at the Hollywood Bowl where Allison tells Carl, "The whole world is a playground. Somewhere along the way everyone forgets that
" Here Reed is unexpectedly poignant. Carrey and Zooey's sweet and funny chemistry give "Yes Man" its big heart.
"Yes Man" is hysterical. Carrey is at his best playing outrageous comedic with an underlying humanity, instead of straight up serious drama. He is amazingly hysterical as he serenades a Jumper (funny Luis Guzman), takes a drunken beating from an angry boyfriend, and jacked up on Red Bull in a jogging photography class. Zooey Deschanel is Carrey's amazing romantic foil. There is a nice scene as she and Carrey walk side by side along a barren Nebraska road. She is cute and has such a radiant spirit and vulnerability. So her Allison must touchingly reconcile for herself whether Carl is just saying "Yes". "Yes Man" is about what's in your heart and being open to all the possibilities of life. That's not a bad message for a hilarious and outrageous comedy from Jim Carrey and Peyton Reed. Say "Yes" to "Yes Man".