can’t be easy to be Jim Carrey at this point in his career.
one hand, he wants to be taken seriously, so he is trying – mostly with very
little success – to try different things, taking artistic chances on some more
dramatic roles than the dumb comedies that he made his name (and fortune)
Though he is to be commended for trying to stretch out, he is
hamstrung by two problems. First off, his taste in serious projects is
rather hit or miss… I mean, did anyone see The Number 23, Lemony Snicket
or The Majestic? Secondly, he is just not all that skilled as a
serious actor. Only in Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind and to
a certain extent Man on the Moon has he been able to rein in his
natural tendency for overacting, substituting goofy faces and huge
overwrought gestures for character traits.
Therefore when those “serious” films inevitably fail – and usually
rightfully so – he is forced to go back to the patented Jim Carrey shtick,
desperately clinging to an acting and film style that is already about a
decade past its sell-by date. These roles are characterized by mincing,
goofy, out-sized slapstick riffs, stupid voice patterns and the occasional
talking with his butt.
that the world seems to have moved on from classic Carrey.
About a decade ago, I saw a quote from a movie exec, who said that Dustin
Hoffman and Clint Eastwood were fine actors, but they couldn’t open a film
like Jim Carrey could. At the time I thought it was a sign of the coming
apocalypse, but now the worm has turned. Carrey can’t rely on a strong
opening weekend either. Problem is, though,
has only had two films so far this decade that have not been considered
box-office disappointments – How the Grinch Stole Christmas in 2000
and Bruce Almighty in 2003. The last film that has raised any
widespread excitement was The Truman Show
in 1999, a very good film
of which Carrey
was the weak link.
Still he tries to return to the old magic. With Yes Man that
backwards-glancing is even more blatant than most, because the movie is
essentially the same premise as his earlier hit comedy Liar Liar – which,
granted, was one of Carrey’s best movies. In that film, he was a compulsive
liar who suddenly always had to tell the truth. Here he is a terminally
negative guy who suddenly has to always say yes to anything that is asked of
Strangely enough, the storyline, though rather ridiculous, still kind of
of it is that Carrey is surrounded by a very good supporting cast –
particular kudos for hiring on the adorable Zooey Deschanel as his potential
love interest and Bradley Cooper as his best friend. (Ironically, Deschanel
and Cooper were also the best parts in the God-awful Matthew McConaughey/Sarah
Jessica Parker romantic comedy Failure to Launch).
Also, Carrey is not as bad as normal at creating an actual character –
though often he falls back into his bad habits. If you want to see all that
is wrong with Jim Carrey distilled into one scene, check out a bit where he
is supposed to be wacked out on Red Bull.
Yes Man is not
really a very good film, but if you are feeling an urge for a dumb Jim
Carrey comedy, you certainly could do a lot worse.
Jay S. Jacobs
Copyright ©2009 PopEntertainment.com.
All rights reserved. Posted: March 27, 2009.