{17 January 2009}   Review: Yes Man

Many remember Jim Carrey as the talented comic actor from classic films such as Ace Ventura: Pet Detective, Me, Myself and Irene and Liar Liar. But he proves once again that his skills surpass his ‘funny-man’ reputation with his role in hilarious romantic comedy, Yes Man.

The film follows social recluse Carl Allen (Carrey) who, after losing his wife, adopts a purely negative outlook on life, making excuses to his friends and struggling to climb the ladder in his job as a loan approver in a local bank.

Things change when Carl is coerced by a friend into attending a local self-help seminar, and making a pact with the eccentric host to say yes to every opportunity that presents itself, no matter how obscure.

Following the rules of the agreement, Carl soon finds himself in a variety of bizarre, and sometimes disturbing, situations, leading to hilarious consequences. Despite the intensity, and often insanity, of the method , Carl’s enjoyment of life begins to improve, as he learns new skills, improves his career prospects, and finds romance with quirky, spontaneous musician Allison, played by Zooey Deschanel.

Although the film is led in many ways by Carrey’s buoyant personality and skilled acting, there is far more on offer to entertain the audience. Fresh from her leading performance in The Happening, Deschanel gives her character a vibrance and energy that connects flawlessly with Carrey’s, providing the inspiration needed as a romantic interest to fuel and match the newfound spontaneity of the pact.

Though hers is far from the only talent supporting Carrey in this thought-provoking and enlightening film. Bad boy of Wedding Crashers, Bradley Cooper, also gracing the big screen with his role in upcoming comedy He’s Just Not That Into You, gives depth and empathy to the role of Carl’s long-suffering best friend, Peter. Award winning actor Terrence Stamp, from stunning historic drama Valkyrie and action thriller Wanted, plays the enthusiastic seminar host, while Flight of the Conchords actor Rhys Darby provides a typically geeky twist as Carl’s superior, Norman, who desperately longs to be considered ‘cool’ despite his frequent fancy dress parties.

Carrey’s comic genius has made a welcome comeback with this film, following his more serious roles as seen in The Number 23 and Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind. This delightful comedy carries some striking morals, urging the audience to examine their own lives in relation to the film. For many, saying ‘yes’ to every opportunity is impractical, if not impossible, but if you’re a little more creative you’re likely to get much more out of life than if you stay in your comfort zone.

Although a little slow in places, and rather outlandish in others, there’s much amusement to be had watching the antics of some of the more eccentric characters. This film may not be for everyone, but for those who can enter the spirit of the story, it’s an uplifting romantic tale about one man’s quest to change his life. And for those who aren’t so taken by the film’s charm, if you take nothing else away from watching it, at least know that if life is approached with an open mind (and a little spontaneity) there’s no telling where it might lead you.

Kirsty Watkinson


“This is entertainment” – review by James Parry
“Empire” – review by Philip Wilding


et cetera