Anything can, does, happen in 'Yes Man'

Posted: Friday, December 26, 2008

DISCLAIMER: It is possible, perhaps even likely, that my opinions about "Yes Man" were overly enhanced toward the positive end of the spectrum thanks to the locale (Hawaii) and the company (sister and girlfriend) with whom I saw it.

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Full disclosure is only fair.

Nevertheless, there are several undeniable reasons for which someone not in Hawaii - they could be, oh I don't know, in Juneau for example - should thoroughly enjoy Jim Carrey's latest work. Carrey himself is returning to the style that made him so famous in the first place (think "Liar Liar"). Zooey Deschanel plays the love interest and as per usual is impossible not to dig. The pair combines to make a predictable and occasionally ludicrous script an enjoyable comedy with plenty of genuine laughter along the way.

Carrey was long overdue to take a role like this once again. He plays Carl Allen, a lonely junior loan officer who is essentially afraid of life. Carl avoids human interaction, even with his best friend Peter (Bradley Cooper). Carl prefers to go to work, avoid his painfully friendly boss, eat lunch alone, avoid his boss some more, rent DVDs at Blockbuster and return to his apartment. Alone. If his cell phone rings, he ignores it.

Thus it is hardly surprising when an old acquaintance (John Michael Higgins, who by the way seems to be in just about every TV show and movie I see) quite literally shows up and throws a rock through the glass walls of Carl's lame little life. He convinces Carl to attend a seminar being put on by a guru named Terrence (Terence Stamp); Terrence's preaching is very simple: Yes. "Say it one million times," he says. "Now say it one million more times. And the word you will have said two million times is ... ?" And a room full of enthusiastic followers shouts in excited unison, "Yes!"

Terrence, like any effective evangelist, is a very talented manipulator; he convinces Carl that if he does not say "yes" to every opportunity that presents itself, bad things will happen. And that, ladies and gentlemen, sets the stage for the majority of the flick: Jim Carrey can't say "no."

Anything can, and does, happen! With Jim Carrey handling things, how could there not be laughs?

Answer: Umm ... there are. Plenty of them. Carrey getting into a drunken bar brawl - funny. Carrey pulling an all-nighter with Red Bull and then crashing the next morning in the middle of a photography-while-jogging class - hilarious. Carrey finding himself unable to get out of a sexual situation with an aggressive elderly neighbor - creepy and alarmingly still funny. I could go on and on, but I don't want to steal all the element of surprise.

Finally, Ms. Deschanel. Always quirky (never more true than her character, Allison, here), sarcastic and charming. She does nothing in "Yes Man" to take away from her reputation. She is able to make the obligatory love interest subplot watchable, and yes, I consider that real praise.

Deschanel and Carrey together make it easy to overlook the absurdity of various plot points. Yes, that too is real praise.

Since we're in the habit of full disclosure here, I can also tell you that I was informed afterward that I might have laughed - too heartily. But the same two women who told me that also said my enthusiasm made "sort of funny" moments seem "more funny." So make of that what you will. I laughed a lot. Maybe you will only laugh kind of a lot.

When's the last time you laughed even that much? "Liar Liar"?


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