Yes Man

by Rick Grant

Grade: B+ / Rated PG-13 / 104 min
Credit Zooey Deschanel with providing the romantic balance and kooky charm to Jim Carrey’s outlandish physical comedy in this romantic comedy. Director Peyton Reed created a funny yet poignant comedy that allows Carrey to cut loose with his theater of the absurd, while pacing his scenes with crafty skill.
The final cut is a warm hearted satire of new age motivation preached by a guru of “Yes”. Terence Stamp plays the motivational speaker Terrence Bundley, who claims that if one says yes to everything, then one will open up one’s horizons to many new experiences.
Jim Carrey portrays Carl Allen, a bank officer who lost his wife to another man and is depressed and bored with his life. His friends are sick of him saying no to anything they suggest to get him out of his doldrums. Carl is disconnected from life and spends his evenings watching DVDs and sulking.
One day Carl runs into an old friend who is high on Bundley’s “Yes” seminars. He suggests that Carl attends a session just to find out what it’s all about. Well, things couldn’t be any worse for Carl. So he reluctantly goes to Bundley’s “Yes” meeting. Under the influence of the group spirit, Carl finally says ‘Yes,” and is reborn a new man.
Indeed, Carl’s life changes drastically. He gives a bum a ride o a park where his car runs out of gas. When he walks miles to the gas station, he meets Allison (Zooey Deschanel) on her scooter. She gives him a ride back to his car and the odd couple click. Allison is a free spirit who tries many new things. She is performing in an experimental rock band at a bar where he goes to see her act. Thus, a sweet romance develops between Carl and Allison.
Carrey portrays Carl with his best physical comedy to date. Carl’s motivation is righteous but his awkward attempts at being spontaneous are slow to wow Allison. But Allison’s deep spark of caring and encouragement helps Carl make the leap from dullard to daredevil.
Director Reed controls Carrey’s improvisational outbursts which tones down Carrey’s tendency to overblow his bits. One could say the movie was nothing more than a series of skits to showcase Carrey’s shtick. However, Reed prevents that from happening and cleverly segues each scene into the next to provide continuity to the movement of the film. And above all, Carrey’s bits are hilarious while maintaining the natural flow of the story.
Zooey Deschanel, as Allison, is irresistibly appealing in all her scenes. The natural chemistry between Carrey and Deschanel creates a wicked sexual tension. This sets up the anticipation for the romantic resolution of the explosive mixture. Meanwhile, Carrey is definitely “on” in this film. His out-there stunts and comedic facial expressions go off the scale.
Not only does Allison perform in an experimental rock band, but she teaches jogging/photography which is hilarious. As the joggers run, they take blurry photographs of L.A.. This gal is Carl’s salvation, as she encourages him to go way out of his comfort zone. Deschanel’s performance endears herself to the viewers, who fall in love with her oddball charisma.
A strong supporting cast enhances the overall quality of the film, especially Rhys Darby (“Flight of The Concord” HBO) as Norman. He is Carl’s boss at the bank, and throws theme parties for Harry Potter and “300” fans. He meets Carl and Allison at the door with the tag line for “300,” “We are Sparta.”
This film represents a more mature Jim Carrey, whose physical comedy has been tamed by his attempts at serious roles. In this new mode, Carey is much funnier with his comedic restraint. His tendancy to take each bit to its absolute limit has been tempered by a more intelligent approach.
The bottom line: The pairing of Carrey with Deschanel was a brilliant casting decision. On screen, the two actors are sizzling hot together. Wow, together, Deschanel and Carrey raise the heart rates of both male and female viewers. For the first time, female viewers will be attracted to Carrey as a leading man. The film is a blast.