After not being seen in a film since last year's abysmal "The Number 23," Jim Carrey knows it's time to get his narrow behind back in the comedy swing of things. And he's done it with "Yes Man," where he again indulges audiences with his Everyman goofability.
Carrey is Carl Allen, a loan officer who, still smarting from the breakup with his wife (Molly Sims), has begun keeping to himself, turning down offers to hang with friends and just holing himself up in his apartment.
Worrying that he might end up old and alone, he takes the advice of an old pal who tells him to attend a self-help seminar that preaches the power of the word "Yes!" It's there that the seminar's guru (Terence Stamp, managing to be funnier than Carrey the few minutes he's on-screen) singles out Carl and urges him to say "yes" to every opportunity.
The guy forgets to tell Carl to say "yes" to every intriguing, promising opportunity that arises. Because our boy Carl gets it in his head to say "yes" to everything. Taking guitar lessons? Yes! Learning Korean? All right! Attending his goofy boss' Harry Potter party? OK! Accepting the sexual advances of his elderly next-door neighbor? Well, that one's kinda iffy. ...
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"Yes Man" often feels like a long episode of "My Name Is Earl," as Carl goes on a charitable path of positivity and enlightenment and is occasionally, karmically reprimanded (falling down the stairs; his car gets towed) if he gets off that path by saying "no."
Formulaic but ultimately harmless, "Yes Man" appears to be a movie that's OK with its own limitations, even when you wish it wasn't. It seems like Carrey and director/Raleigh boy Peyton Reed accept the no-frills mediocrity of the story -- the script, co-written by "Forgetting Sarah Marshall" director Nicholas Stoller, adapted from a 2005 memoir by British humorist Danny Wallace, couldn't be more steadily middlebrow if it was on Al B. Sure!'s forehead -- and go for whatever predictably zany but sweet-natured moments they can summon.
The movie not only dishes out familiar Carrey slapstick (the movie does have its fair share of rubbery-limbed pratfalls from the man) but also gives us familiar characters. Bradley Cooper and Danny Masterson unsurprisingly fill their roles as Carl's party-boy best buds. Carl even falls in love with a twinkly-eyed, free-spirited gal (Zooey Deschanel -- who else?) who does such eccentric things as lead a morning jogging/photography class for joggers who like to take pictures while running. There's a name on the Web for this type of character: Manic Pixie Dream Girl. I have a feeling Deschanel's character will be considered the definitive MPDG as time marches on.
"Yes Man" is basically a movie to remind people not to become bitter, misanthropic knobs (kinda like film critics), especially during this most joyous time of the year.
If it gave a more convincing argument, I would take it into consideration. Unfortunately, I recognize "Yes Man" for what it really is: a reminder to people that Jim Carrey is still around and available for comedies.