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PopEntertainment.com > Reviews > Movie Reviews > Yes Man

MOVIE REVIEWS

YES MAN (2008)

Starring Jim Carrey, Zooey Deschanel, Bradley Cooper, Rhys Darby, John Michael Higgins, Danny Masterson, Terence Stamp, Sasha Alexander, Devin 'Poetri' Smith, Molly Sims, Fionnula Flanagan and Luis Guzman.

Screenplay by Nicholas Stoller, Jarrad Paul, Andrew Mogel and Danny Wallace.

Directed by Peyton Reed.

Distributed by Warner Bros.  104 minutes.  Rated PG-13.

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Yes Man

It can’t be easy to be Jim Carrey at this point in his career.  

On 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) on. 

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. 

Problem is, though, 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. 

He 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 him. 

Strangely enough, the storyline, though rather ridiculous, still kind of works. 

Part 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.

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Copyright ©2009   PopEntertainment.com. All rights reserved. Posted: March 27, 2009.