- Rated PG-13
- Buy the BD
All photos © Warner Bros.
Reviewed by Jason Zingale
ost people would probably agree that Jim Carrey’s last great comedic performance was in the 2003 flick “Bruce Almighty,” but I would venture to go even further back than that – as far back, in fact, as 1997’s “Liar, Liar.” Though Carrey has grown as an actor in that 10-year span (with dramatic roles in “The Truman Show,” “Man on the Moon” and “Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind”), “Liar, Liar” was the last movie to feature Carrey the comedian at the top of his game. How ironic, then, that his new comedy, “Yes Man,” is so similar to that film. For as much alike as they are in premise, however, “Yes Man” delivers a Carrey we’ve never seen before: a more mature comic who isn’t afraid to go over the top when necessary, but can also land a joke without all the hyperactivity.
Carrey stars as Carl Allen, a junior loan officer who has surrounded himself in negativity ever since his wife (Molly Sims) left him three years ago. He’s stuck in a dead-end job, treats his co-workers with disdain, and makes up lame excuses to avoid hanging out with his friends. But when an old acquaintance (John Michael Higgins) suggests he attend a self-help seminar on positive thinking, Carl is convinced by its steadfast guru (Terence Stamp) to begin saying “yes” at every opportunity. Hesitant at first, he begins to embrace the power of “yes” when a selfless act of charity results in a chance encounter with Allison (Zooey Deschanel), a beautiful free spirit whose quirky and spontaneous lifestyle seems like a perfect match for the new and improved Carl.
Co-written by “Forgetting Sarah Marshall” director Nicholas Stoller and based on the best-selling memoir by Danny Wallace, “Yes Man” could have just as easily been called “99 Wild & Crazy Days with Jim Carrey.” The whole point of the setup is to mine the comedy that comes out of Carl’s inclination to say “yes” to everything, and though some may seem tame at first (learning Korean, taking guitar lessons, etc.), the idea is that they always result in something good. For instance, after Carl is coerced into planning an engagement party for his best friend’s (Bradley Cooper) fiancé, he uses his newly learned Korean conversational skills to relate to the lackadaisical bridal shop employee, and then talks a suicidal man (a very funny Luis Guzman) down from a nearby ledge with Third Eye Blind's "I Will Understand."
Whether it’s embarking on a Red Bull-fueled night out with the guys or submitting to a sexual elderly neighbor (Fionnula Flanagan), this is what Carrey does best, and despite being surrounded by a large supporting cast, it’s his show through and through. Zooey Deschanel is great as the quirky love interest, and Bradley Cooper and Danny Masterson offer solid support as Carl’s two best friends, but the only person who really matches Carrey’s comedic intensity is “Flight of the Conchords” co-star Rhys Darby. As Carl’s boss Norman, Darby steals nearly every scene he’s in, even though he’s essentially just playing a slightly more nerdy version of his “Conchords” character Murray. Carrey doesn’t seem to mind, since he has so many other opportunities to earn laughs, and for the most part, he does just that.
It’s been a while since Jim Carrey has put out such a funny film and he knows it. His desperation to reclaim his former glory hit an all-time low earlier this year when he went on “American Idol” wearing a pair of elephant ears to promote “Horton Hears a Who.” Thankfully, “Yes Man” should put an end to Carrey’s involvement in any more embarrassing marketing tactics, as it’s his best comedy in years. There’s no way he’ll ever be as big as he once was now that Judd Apatow and gang have retooled the genre, but fans will just be happy to see him back to his old antics.
Special Edition Blu-Ray Review:
Warner Bros. has a pretty poor track record when it comes to special features, but the single-disc release of “Yes Man” remedies that with a solid collection of extras that isn’t memorable, but still better than expected. Along with deleted scenes, a gag reel, and a short montage of Jim Carrey’s on-set antics, the Blu-ray also includes a stunt featurette (“Extreme Yes Man”), a set tour with author Danny Wallace, and a tour of Norman Stokes’ apartment. The best of the bunch, however, is a faux rockumentary on Munchausen by Proxy (including all five musical performances) and an inside look at what happens when Carrey drinks a Red Bull.