Zooey Deschanel struggles through most of her scenes to keep up with Jim Carrey.
Imagine what it would be like to not have to make a decision for a year. No weighing the options, no debating, no excuses. For a year, everything is yes, yes, yes. Ostensibly, anything could happen because you’d never know what you would have to say to yes to. A world of opportunities would be open to you waiting for you to experience.
This essentially is the plot of Yes Man, which tells the story of Carl Allen (Jim Carrey), a low-level loan officer at a bank who closes himself off to everything and refuses to take part in any activity outside of his apartment. His credo is "no." No matter how hard people push, including his best friend Peter (Bradley Cooper), Carl obstinately avoids everything and everyone.
Carl gets a wake-up call when Nick (John Michael Higgins), an old friend, pops back into Carl’s life and tells him the secret to the adventurous and fulfilling life he has been leading: saying yes. Nick drags Carl to a self-help seminar based on the teachings of a would-be savior for the masses named Terrence Bundley (Terence Stamp). He tells Carl that, from now on, instead of avoiding everything, he is going to embrace every opportunity that comes his way.
The most unfortunate part of the movie is that it was written as a Jim Carrey vehicle as opposed to a more serious, contemplative adaptation of the Danny Wallace book. The idea of the book has so many philosophical questions and possibilities that the movie could have easily been a calm observation of a man attempting to discover what his life is all about. Instead, the writers went for slapstick in lieu of any real humor or insight.
Carrey does a good job as Carl, once again showing a fine balance between the manic performances we have come to love (or hate) and his ability to deliver a serious line without allowing it to sound forced or fake. Once again, Carrey brilliantly finds ways to deliver lines and physical humor that would never occur to any other actor.
Zooey Deschanel appears as Allison, Carl’s love interest, whom he meets serendipitously after saying yes to a local concert. Deschanel struggles through most of her scenes to keep up with Carrey, attempting to make her character appear as carefree and spontaneous as her dialogue tells us she is supposed to be. The two actors have some touching moments, but ultimately don’t seem to fit at all.
The real joy of the movie is Carl’s boss at the bank, Norman (Rhys Darby), a pathetically unfunny man who has no idea he is the biggest dork in the world: Picture him as an even more oblivious Michael Scott with an Australian accent. Darby is excellent in the role and keeps pace well with a veteran comic actor like Carrey. His scenes are the saving grace of a movie that could have been wonderful but ends up feeling recycled and too easy. | Matthew F. Newlin