December 25, 2008

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Yes Man (PG-13)
Jim Carrey offers up a “remember why you like me” comic performance in the slight but completely OK Yes Man.

Carl (Carrey) has been kind of a sad-sack shut-in ever since his marriage broke up. Despite efforts by his best friend Peter (Bradley Cooper) to draw him back into the world, Carl prefers to spend his nights at home, kept company by his DVD player. There can be another way, says former coworker Nick (John Michael Higgins). He hands Carl a brochure and invites him to a seminar all about becoming a “yes man.” Apparently, the secret of this The Secret-like life philosophy is to say “yes” to whatever life puts in front of you. Carl is reluctant, but strangely persuasive guru Terrence (Terrence Stamp) is able to bully him in to making a “yes” covenant. Thusly, when a homeless man asks Carl for a few bucks and a ride to a secluded park, he says yes. And when that trip leaves him stranded without gas and the quirky Allison (Zooey Deschanel) offers him a ride on his scooter he says “yes.” And when a grateful neighbor takes out her dentures in preparation for giving Carl a “reward” for hanging up her shelves, he reluctantly says “yes.”

Yes has its downsides.

I’ve had several people tell me that they saw the trailer for this movie and thought it was basically Liar Liar with a slightly tweaked premise. Well, armchair movie prognosticators, you’re correct. Carrey’s character has to learn a life lesson by doing the opposite of his nature, which also results in comic consequences, some of which involve slapstick and ick-humor. So why make this movie if he’s already made it? Because between Liar Liar and now, yes, there has been Bruce Almighty and Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind but there has also been Fun with Dick and Jane and The Majestic. I guess a man’s gotta eat.

For a retread, though, Yes Man isn’t horrible. It isn’t even mediocre. It’s OK, fine, slightly above average. It’s a movie that you can see when the movie you really want to see is sold out without feeling like you’ve just been swindled. Zooey Deschanel is delightful as always and, except for a few instances of rubber face that feel just a bit too creaky, Carrey is workmanlike.

Yes Man isn’t a reinvention of Carrey’s comic persona but it is a very serviceable reminder of why people liked him in the first place. C+

Rated PG-13 for crude sexual humor, language and brief nudity. Directed by Peyton Reed and written by Nicholas Stoller, Jarrad Paul and Andrew Mogel (from a book by Danny Wallace), Yes Man is an hour and 44 minutes long and is distributed in wide release by Warner Bros.