Directed by: Peyton Reed
Premise: A man with a negative attitude (Jim Carrey) attends a motivational seminar and decides to change his life by submitting to every request or opportunity put in his way.
What Works: Jim Carrey is still a likable and watchable leading man and the story does a nice job in its first act. Yes Man sets up Carrey’s character as sympathetic and gives him reasons beyond laziness to possess his character flaw.
What Doesn’t: As a comedy, Yes Man is just not very funny. There are a few moments of humor but scenes that should be major set pieces do not pay off and the film cannot sustain a comedic tone. The romantic relationship between Carrey’s character and a free spirited woman (Zooey Deschanel) does not hold a lot of dramatic weight because the story does not put any passion between them. The story just flings these two together and expects them to fall in love and when the two come into conflict it seems just as flat and unmotivated. The commitment that Carrey’s character has made has some pretty obvious flaws that anyone over five years old ought to see and thereby predict where the story is going. Yes Man waits until the end to address the problem and so the middle of the film is just episodic, facing Carrey’s character with ridiculous requests and letting them play out. But he does not learn anything from saying yes and the second act of the story plays like an episode of Fear Factor. By the time Yes Man addresses the obvious flaw in the character’s approach to life it is already plainly obvious and does not lead to anything interesting or funny and makes the third act very under whelming.
Bottom Line: Yes Man is another below average project for Jim Carrey, an actor who seems to be struggling with picking his material these days. Carrey is a much more talented actor than this material allows for and he really ought to get back to material that challenges him and the audience.
Episode: #220 (December 28, 2008)