Yes Man

Director    Peyton Reed
Starring    Jim Carrey, Zooey Deschanel, Rhys Darby, John Michael Higgins, Bradley Cooper
Release    19 DEC (US) 26 DEC (UK)    Certificate 12A
3 stars


4th January 2009

No. It's a wonderful word isn't it? Without it we'd all be doing things we don't really want to do, all of the time, and we'd be knackered 24/7 - life would be like a permanent Glastonbury. However, some people enjoy the word more than others, and get carried away with it to the extent where they sit alone in their apartment watching DVDs while their friends are out partying, enjoying life. We call these people 'No Men'. When you say 'no', you say 'no' to life, therefore you aren't really living. But if you say 'yes' where you would once have said 'no', your life should change for the better. It worked for British author Danny Wallace and it works for Jim Carrey.

Carl Allen (Carrey) is our No Man in question. He's a miserable bank worker who turns his nose up at life. He ignores his phone, shuns his friends, disregards all outside activity and spends his time moping around his apartment, criticising the Saw movies and falling asleep to 300. But when Carl misses his best friend's engagement party, he decides to sort his life out before he loses them forever.

When he bumps into an old friend (John Michael Higgins) who's become a Yes Man - and as a result climbed Mount Kilimanjaro and shot a cow with a bazooka - Carl tags along to Terrence Stamp's eccentric 'Yes' Seminar. Soon enough, Carl is saying 'aye' to every opportunity that presents itself, be it giving a wad of cash to a homeless guy, replying to spam emails regarding penis size, or having freaky sex with his elderly neighbour.

Based on the book by Danny Wallace, who lived the Yes Man life for real for six months, the concept is a perfect fit for Jim Carrey, channelling the Liar Liar vibe that served him so well in the '90s. Returning to the physical comedy that made him the superstar he is today, it's good to see Carrey acting silly again - it's been too long. Dicking about with Sellotape? Riding a motorbike bare-arsed? Falling over? It's all there! It's like 1994 again!

By saying 'yes' to everything, life begins to show off its positivity and Carl is transformed into a spontaneous new man, bagging himself a new squeeze in the shape of Zooey Deschanel's outgoing photographer, Alison. Rekindling her cuteness from...pretty much all her films, Deschanel has a knack for bringing something totally different to a role that makes her stand out from the usual rom-com rabble (those hypnotic peepers don't hurt either). However, everyone is upstaged by bank manager Norm, played brilliantly by Flight Of The Conchords' Rhys Darby. With a hint of Brent about him, Derby is a joy to watch as the gormless theme-party loving boss. Yes Man will likely throw him and his Kiwi comedy into the mainstream.

Yes Man is a film with plenty to laugh about and shows us Jim Carrey is still one of the finest physical comedians in the business. It's a shame it didn't stick a bit closer to Wallace's excellent source material, the author restricted to a non-speaking cameo role and the British sensibilities of the book all but lost - the only thing the book and the film have in common is the core concept. A missed opportunity for Danny Wallace maybe - he'll no doubt be hoping his other book adaptations require a gangly, speccy British lead - but as undemanding comedy goes, Yes Man definitely gets the nod.

More:  Comedy
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