'Yes Man': Right Answer For Carrey Fans? Possibly...

Jim Carrey as Carl Allen i i

hide captionSay Yes: After his marriage ends, Carl Allen (Jim Carrey) says no to almost everything — until an old friend turns him on to a cult where "affirmative" is the answer.

Melissa Moseley/Warner Bros. Pictures
Jim Carrey as Carl Allen

Say Yes: After his marriage ends, Carl Allen (Jim Carrey) says no to almost everything — until an old friend turns him on to a cult where "affirmative" is the answer.

Melissa Moseley/Warner Bros. Pictures

Yes Man

  • Director: Peyton Reed
  • Genre: Romantic Comedy
  • Running Time: 104 minutes

Rated PG-13 for profane language, sexual humor and bare posteriors.

Jim Carrey as Carl Allen and Zooey Deschanel as Allison i i

hide captionFreewheeling: By learning to accentuate the positive, Carl finds a new love interest in the free-spirited Allison (Zooey Deschanel).

Melissa Moseley/Warner Bros. Pictures
Jim Carrey as Carl Allen and Zooey Deschanel as Allison

Freewheeling: By learning to accentuate the positive, Carl finds a new love interest in the free-spirited Allison (Zooey Deschanel).

Melissa Moseley/Warner Bros. Pictures

With a title like Yes Man, Jim Carrey's latest caper is angling for a two-thumbs-up notice. But this account of the power of a positive response is more of a maybe.

Restrained by Jim Carrey standards, the movie features only one utterly tasteless sequence, and just a single scene in which the star dramatically distorts his features. (It involves tape, and has nothing to do with the story.) This is a role that could have gone to a substantially less hyper star.

The cooled-out Carrey plays L.A. bank officer Carl, who spends his days turning down loan applications and his evenings rejecting friends' offers to party. Carl's un-Californian negativity never gets analyzed in any depth, but it seems to stem from a six-month marriage to Stephanie (model-actress Molly Sims), who dumped him.

Then Carl encounters an old pal who's joined a new cult, run by one Terrence Bundley. The guru is played by '60s art-film heartthrob Terence Stamp, whose real-life spiritual quest was reflected in 1979's Meetings with Remarkable Men.

That movie was based on the teachings of G.I. Gurdjieff, a more enigmatic figure than Bundley; the latter just tells his followers to say "yes" to everything. Carl resists this directive for about a minute, and then he's on his way.

He agrees to lessons in guitar, flying and Korean, and even consents — reluctantly — to a request for "sexual release" from an elderly neighbor. (The mortifyingly amorous granny is the new stock character of the PG-13 comedy, it would seem; there's another one in Four Christmases.)

Most of Carl's acceptances pay off somehow later, but the crucial affirmation is his acceptance of a ride on a motor scooter piloted by the lovable eccentric Allison (Zooey Deschanel).

Soon, that particular "Yes" makes Carl a new man: He and Allison have zany fun together, whether jogging with a camera club in Griffith Park, attending a Harry Potter party or taking an impromptu vacation to Nebraska. (The movie is big on local color, in both L.A. and Lincoln.)

Carl and Allison are not exactly in the same age bracket, but that's apparently OK so long as the older partner is a guy, not a granny.

Of course, boy-finds-girl must be followed by boy-loses-girl, if only so the movie can have a third act. The resulting turnaround contains no great surprises, but is reasonably clever. One character ultimately admits to "just riffing," but director Peyton Reed and the troika of scripters are not; they construct a sturdier framework than is typical of Hollywood comedies these days.

But Carrey's true fans aren't interested in structure; they want to see their boy knock over the supports and send the whole thing crashing to the ground. That doesn't happen in Yes Man, which despite some similarities to Liar Liar, is fundamentally a homey romantic comedy. This is one Jim Carrey flick that might agree with viewers who usually find him too shrill.

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