film & game reviews, the retro way.
John Michael Higgins
Loosely based on Danny Wallace's novel, Yes Man is a Jim Carrey-starring comedy about a man who decides to say "yes" to literally everything after attending a motivational seminar, and who quickly discovers the benefits and drawbacks to this new philosophy.
There's a bit of a Liar Liar vibe to Yes Man as, once again, we follow Jim Carrey saying stuff he doesn't really want to say, with over-the-top results. Carl (Carrey) initially lives a withdrawn life, post-divorce, where he says no to everything and shuns his friends. He works for a savings and loan company where he gladly denies loans to anyone who asks. After bumping into an old acquaintance, he is promptly dragged to a motivational event where people are encouraged to say "Yes!" to life. A reliably intimidating Terence Stamp plays the cult leader-style speaker who convinces Carl to say "yes" to every single opportunity which presents itself. The first half of the film focuses on this experiment and its mostly positive results.
Along the way, Carl makes some new friends, reconnects with old ones and meets the quirky Allison (Zooey Deschanel) who he eventually asks out. It's a fun, very silly ride with an upbeat tone plus some charming moments like Allison's eccentric band Munchausen By Proxy and a particularly nerdy Harry Potter costume party. The central premise is never convincing, however, as Carl appears to change his entire way of life at the drop of a hat and his sudden appreciation of people he once disliked feels a tad forced, as do his whimsical chats with Allison. The writing lacks nuance, to say the least, and so the film's attempt at a kind of A Christmas Carol meets Groundhog Day character arc falls a bit flat.
This isn't a bad film, it's an enjoyable enough light-hearted comedy that means well and it has some funny moments delivered by a likeable cast. That said, a bit more time should have been spent on fleshing out those characters, finding some consistency with the jokes and making the plot feel less contrived.