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YES MAN

Review by Gordon Justesen

Stars: Jim Carrey, Zooey Deschanel, Bradley Cooper, John Michael Higgins, Terence Stamp
Director: Peyton Reed
Audio: Dolby Digital 5.1
Video: Anamorphic Widescreen 2.40:1
Studio: Warner Bros.
Features: See Review
Length: 104 Minutes
Release Date: April 7, 2009

“What have you been doing?”

“I’ve been all over the map, man. I’ve lived. I climbed Mount Kilimanjaro. I ate bat in Laos. I shot a cow with a bazooka. I’m not proud of that last one, but I did it, man.”

“Wow, sounds wild.”

“Wanna know my secret? I’m a Yes Man.”

Film ***

Though I’d been waiting for Jim Carrey to make a huge return to comedy after the disastrous career misfire that was The Number 23, I must admit I was a bit hesitant about the concept for Yes Man. For starters, the idea of Carrey playing a guy who finds himself saying yes to everything seemed a bit too similar to that of Liar Liar. But I gave the movie a shot and I’m glad I did, as it turns out to be one of Carrey’s funniest efforts to date.

The concept is actually a lot better than the ads for the movie made it seem. Even better, it manages to never echo Liar Liar even once, which was a relief. Truth be told, I think this movie is a bit more superior.

Carrey is at his energetic best as Carl Allen, and the movie wastes no time in presenting his one major flaw. He has a tendency to say no to just about everything in life, whether it be an invite to his boss’ party or even just a night out with the guys. It eventually causes one of his best friends, Pete (Bradley Cooper), to confront Carl about his rejection problem after he ignores an invitation to the other’s engagement party.

As it turns out, Carl has been unable to shake off the effects of a recent divorce from his wife, which has only worsened his “no” addiction. However, hope soon comes forth in the form of a former work acquaintance (John Michael Higgins, aka professional lawyer Wayne Jarvis), who once had the same problem Carl did, but is now enjoying life more than ever after attending a seminar that teaches one to say yes to everything. He advises Carl to attend one immediately.

And so Carl does indeed attend one. In doing so, he manages to catch the attention of the “yes” guru (Terence Stamp) by way of being the only audience member not saying yes to his many questions to the crowd. He then confronts Carl right then and there, presents him the challenge of saying yes to everything in life, to which Carl reluctantly accepts.

It doesn’t take long at all for the first challenge to present itself. When leaving the seminar, a homeless man approaches Carl and asks for a ride. He agrees to give one, but it doesn’t end there, as the man also asks to use Carl’s cell phone, which he uses until the battery. As for the icing on the cake, Carl ends up handing over all the cash on him to the stranger once he spots it and kindly asks for it.

So while the yes factor ends up not working for Carl at first, it does happen to bring along many advantages. The first one being a chance encounter with the pretty and spunky Allison (Zooey Deschanel), who he first meets pretty much as a result of giving the homeless man the ride, which led to his car running out of gas. He then walks to the nearest gas station, where he meets the bike-riding Allison, who gives him a ride back to his car, and finishes their first meet with a surprise kiss.

From that point on, Carl finds himself eagerly saying yes to everything life tosses his way. Any internet offer, he gladly accepts. He even ends up ordering his very own Persian Wife. But most importantly, he’s making time for his friends who he was shutting out beforehand.

I’d be lying if I said the movie wasn’t predictable, but when you’ve got an energetic star like Jim Carrey headlining it, that’s pretty much all you need for a comedy to work. And Carrey truly gives the movie his all, which of course results in many priceless moments. In addition, the romance that develops between him and Zooey Deschanel is sweet and hits all the right notes, and the two have an amazing chemistry right from the start.

In short, I think it would be very wise to say yes to Yes Man, which is a superb example of true crowd-pleasing fare. Jim Carrey is in top comedy form, as he usually is, and there are countless laughs to be had from beginning to end.

Video ***1/2

The anamorphic picture on this Warner release is solid. It’s a simply shot film with no real visual significance, but the image is terrifically crisp, clear and nicely detailed. Colors are quite solid, in addition. Though some bits of image compression are noticeable, they represent only a minor flaw in an otherwise stellar presentation.

Audio ***

The 5.1 mix is quite serviceable for what is mainly a dialogue oriented farce. The many physical pratfalls associated with a Jim Carrey comedy provide some nice sound highlights, and many music cues sound quite terrific as well.

Features ***

Included on the disc are a number of featurettes including “Downtime on the Set of Yes Man with Jim Carrey”, “Jim Carrey: Extreme Yes Man” and “Future Sounds: Munchausen by Proxy”, which takes a look at the music group in the film led by Ms. Deschanel, and we also get five music videos by the group; “Uh-Huh”, “Yes Man”, “Star-Spangled Banner”, “Sweet Ballad” and “Keystar”. Lastly, there’s a Gag Reel that’s awfully hilarious.

The second disc contains a bonus Digital Copy of the movie.

Summary:

Yes Man marks a return to hilarious comic form for Jim Carrey. It’s also one of his funniest films to date. If you are in the mood for a zany laughfest, this is one movie you can’t afford to say no to.

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