A quick glance at Jim Carrey’s IMDB listings for the last few years reveals under appreciated movies like Lemony Snicket’s A Series of Unfortunate Events, an ill conceived remake in the form of Fun with Dick and Jane and one out-and-out stinker, Number 23. It’s been a tough time to be a Jim Carrey fan. It seemed the stuff that made him famous, the trademarked rubber-faced antics and physical mayhem, were relics of his early career. But just when it appeared that asking Carrey to speak out of his bum again would be akin to suggesting Bob Dylan take a throat lozenge along comes Yes Man, a return to form from a man who began talking himself just a bit too seriously.
Carrey plays Carl Allen, a sad sack who still stings from his divorce three years ago. He lives alone, only leaves the house to go to work or to the video store and has almost worn out the “ignore” button on his cell phone keypad. A chance encounter with an old friend leads him to a “Yes is the New No!” self help seminar, lead by the charismatic Terrence Bundley (Terence Stamp). He’s part Dale Carnegie part Earnest Angely. His message is simple; there’s too much negativity in the world, and if people just said “yes” more often things would get better. Carl takes the advice to heart and after a rough start soon finds that his life does improve when he answers yes to everything.
Like a singer who always wanted to act, Carrey has often tried to deny his gifts as the new Buster Keaton and play serious. Not satisfied with his enormous facility for physical humor he has sought out roles like the above mentioned Number 23 and The Majestic. Trouble is once you get famous for talking out of your bum it’s hard to turn back and be taken seriously. He’s a good light-dramatic actor but he is a stellar physical comedian and Yes Man finds a good mix between the two.
The love story—Zooey Deschanel is the totally charming love interest—and transformation from schlub to super charged Tony Robbins type give him a chance to act, while the script also affords nice opportunities for Carrey to indulge in some good old fashioned Dumb and Dumber style buffoonery.
Yes Man is essentially Liar Liar with a more positive twist. In both films he plays a self absorbed man who finds his life—and the lives of those around him—gets better when he changes his attitude. Both are feel good movies and both feature Carrey’s unique brand of slapstick. Yes Man is more of a fable, with gentler humor than Liar Liar, but if you liked that 1997 film, you enjoy the new one.
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