Rene Rodriguez, Miami Herald
There’s a lot more going on in Yes Man than just another Jim Carrey high-concept comedy a la Liar, Liar. Yes, the film’s central conceit allows Carrey plenty of opportunity for his manic, rubber-faced antics — including one memorably hilarious riff on the effects of drinking too much Red Bull. He plays Carl, a depressed bank loan officer who rarely leaves his apartment and decides to turn his life around after attending a self-help seminar by saying yes to every request, invitation or suggestion that comes his way.
Want to come to a Harry Potter party dressed as your favorite character? Just name the time! Accept a junk e-mail from persianwifefinder.com? Sure. Help out a homeless guy who wants a ride across town? No problem. Agree to a midday romp in bed with the seriously senior woman who lives next door? Um . . . OK. But make it quick.
Director Peyton Reed (Bring It On, The Break-Up), working from a script co-written by Nicholas Stoller (who directed Forgetting Sarah Marshall), never runs out of situations to test Carl’s newfound resolve to embrace life. The story also cleverly pays off many of the random things Carl decides to do: Who knew that flying lessons, learning to play the guitar or speaking Korean could turn out to be so useful?
This is all well and good, but it is also familiar territory for Carrey, who has mugged and hammed his way through this kind of lowbrow turf before. What distinguishes Yes Man is the effectiveness of the film’s supporting characters, from New Zealand comedian Rhys Darby as his hopelessly and endearingly nerdy boss to Terence Stamp as the imperious motivational speaker who sends Carl on his yes quest.
Best of all is Zooey Deschanel as a free-spirited young woman drawn to Carl’s impulsiveness and spontaneity, unaware his willingness to go with the flow isn’t part of his natural personality. Their romance, a requisite subplot of practically every studio comedy made in Hollywood, would normally feel like filler. But Carrey and Deschanel have an exquisitely oddball chemistry that makes you look forward to their scenes together. In certain shots, the actors seem to be cracking each other up unintentionally, but the pleasure they are taking in those scenes blends right into the narrative. Yes Man is fine as far as Carrey comedies go — the Third Eye Blind bit is a classic piece of throwaway business — but it’s even better as a love story that just happens to make you laugh.
Cast: Jim Carrey, Zooey Deschanel, Bradley Cooper, Rhys Darby, John Michael Higgins, Terence Stamp
Director: Peyton Reed
Screenwriters: Nicholas Stoller, Jarrad Paul, Andrew Mogel. Based on the book by Danny Wallace.
Producers: Richard D. Zanuck, David Heyman
A Warner Bros. release. Running time: 100 minutes. Vulgar language, sexual situations.