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Yes Man

by on April 7, 2009
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jim_carrey_yes_man_movie_image_zooey_deschanel__1_If it wasn’t so annoying, it would be easy to feel sorry for “Yes Man.”

It’s too dumb to be a real comedy, relying on Jim Carrey’s tired schtick of interrupting people repeatedly with gibberish, falling down, making faces that  a 6-year-old would say is tired, and basically acting the fool at every occasion.

It’s too sappy and sentimentally obvious, with its generic, vague “embrace life” theme that also advocates driving a motorscooter at high speeds while swerving through traffic in both directions, doing a variety of incredibly dangerous, stupid stunts, and never saying no.

It’s just on the cusp of evoking sympathy laughs when you realize just how lazy and lackluster the film truly is, how much a cheap shell it is of the superior (but less than ambitious in its own right) “Liar, Liar.”

Here’s the premise: Carl (Carrey) doesn’t like to say yes to anything. Not to his friends that want to go out, not to the guy handing out flyers on the corner, not to his boss, and certainly not to the scores of people who come into his bank looking for a loan.

Then one day he goes to a “Yes” seminar that  promises to change your life through affirmation, gets noticed by the host (played by a caffeine-deprived Terence Stamp), rapped on the head with a microphone, and suddenly can’t say anything but yes.

And what puts him under this thrall? Is the host a magician or a hypnotist? Nope. Gypsy curse? Nada. Birthday wish from his son? Nuh-uh. A request from his girlfriend? Wrong.

There is no explanation. But, as you can imagine, there are plenty of random, chance encounters where people ask Carl for something ridiculous, and he unfailingly acquieses. He just can’t say no to anything.

Until, that is, he does, on at least two occasions, utters that offensive word “no” in the course of normal conversation.

Of course, the more he says yes, the more illogically better his life gets. He gets that promotion he was passed up on, he meets a love interest (the impossibly adorable Zooey Deschanel), and finds new purpose in life.

The film is built on the flimsiest of setups, constructed on contrivances, and driven forward by illogically-conceived situations and behaviors that normal people do not exhibit.

At its worst, the film also perpetuates stereotypes to an almost offensive degree. A young female Asian character speaks with an almost Charlie Chan-like accent, and when Carl takes his love interest  on an impromptu trip to Nebraska, what do they do? They visit the telephone museum, shoot skeet, tour a chicken-processing plant, then take in a Nebraska Cornhuskers game (because, you know, that’s all they do in Nebraska, at least when looking at the state from a telescope in Hollywood).

“Yes Man” is a crassly commercial film, one that says the only thing that is wrong is self-denial, which is, of course, the only true sin in a consumerist society: saying no.

1 1/2 yaps (out of 5)