Yes Man

Movie title: Yes Man (2008)
Grade: B- (3 stars)
Rated: PG-13
Summation: A depressed loan officer gets involved in a self-help course where he is compelled to say “yes” to every opportunity.
Spoilers ahead: No


Jim Carrey has the unusual ability to act off-the-walls stupid and be funny while doing it. If you or I try that, we’ll just be called stupid. But Carrey can get away with it and make most of us laugh in the process. Count on his humorous mannerisms to make you laugh because not much else in the film Yes Man will. With this one, we have yet another example of a 2008 comedy that is all the way “cute,” but not really what you would call “funny.” It’s amusing, but it’s no Dumb and Dumber.

Having said that, I will add that I really liked the film. I did. I felt better for seeing it. It sweetly parodies the ignominious nuttiness of the self-help movement where a bunch of sad sacks sit around and read books and go to seminars on how to be happy and make life meaningful. I’m a stickler for satire, yes siree, but making fun of that crowd really gets me going!

Carrey’s character is Carl Allen, a depressed and unmotivated loan officer at a local bank. He’s not doing well. Out of grim hopelessness, he follows a friend’s advice and goes to a “Yes” meeting led by a charismatic clown of a man by the name of Terrence Bundley (Terence Stamp). Their philosophy is, life is only full of closed doors because of our lack of accepting opportunities when they present themselves. But we simply don’t know when these opportunities will be coming along. What’s the solution? Just say “yes” to every opportunity to do something, no matter what it is. You can already see the silliness that following such a rule is going to conger up!

But it does make you think, what if I said “yes” to everything I was asked to do? What doorways would be opened that otherwise wouldn’t have been? My withdrawn, reclusive life would do a 180 for sure. And that, as I see it, made the movie standout-ish, despite its lackluster humor.

The story may be better than the humor, but there’s something crazy about seeing a bunch of unhappy loafers agreeing to do any and everything they are asked to do like some mob of automatons. I enjoyed the movie because it had a well-delivered message to it—we are in control. Say “yes” to try new things…do stuff you don’t want to do, take lessons to learn to speak Korean, volunteer to throw wedding showers, go nuts…but don’t take it too far. So learns the affectionately remade Carl Allen.

And forgive me, but seeing a guy succumb to oral sex because he felt couldn’t say no to his 60-year-old neighbor who takes her denchers out to get the job done right is nastily funny. It can’t hurt to do more things, to change up your routine and see what happens. Chances are, you’ll be better off than you were. The Kleenex-clinging masses of teary-eyed self-help seekers ought to pawn a few of those worthless “baby steps” books and use the money to see the movie. It’ll be an upper for sure and might actually do some long-term good.



Director: Peyton Reed
Starring: Jim Carrey “Carl Allen,” Zooey Deschanel “Allison,” Bradley Cooper “Peter,” John Michael Higgins “Nick,” Rhys Darby “Norman,” Danny Masterson “Rooney,” Fionnula Flanagan “Tillie,” Terence Stamp “Terrence Bundley,” Sasha Alexander “Lucy,” Molly Sims “Stephanie”
Genre: Comedy