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‘Yes Man’? Just say no



Published: Thu, December 18, 2008 @ 12:00 a.m.

By Rick Bentley

It has been five years since Jim Carrey has appeared in the type of outrageous comedies that made him a superstar.

After the 2003 mega-hit “Bruce Almighty,” Carrey starred in the quirky drama “Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind”; the creepy “The Number 23”; the fantasy “Lemony Snicket’s A Series of Unfortunate Events”; and as a voice talent in “Horton Hears a Who!” (There also was the lame “Fun with Dick and Jane,” but who remembers that failed effort?)

“Yes Man” is Carrey’s return to his comedy roots. Too bad the film just taps the surface of those roots.

The movie is less of a comedy and more of an endurance test for Carrey. He plays a man with a negative attitude who gets convinced by his friends that he needs to be more positive. He agrees to say yes to every request.

That’s a thin premise. At least in Carrey’s “Liar Liar,” there was an outside force compelling him to tell the truth. No such real force exists here, which means he can chose to ignore any request he doesn’t like.

To fill out the movie, Carrey’s character agrees to take flying lessons, learn to play the guitar, become fluent in Korean and even bungee jump off a bridge. Carrey actually did all of these things for the movie. So what? The scene of him taking a bungee leap would have been just as unfunny had a stuntman taken the dive.

“Yes Man’s” lone sex scene features Carrey and a toothless senior citizen. Try to get that image out of your head.

Carrey’s not to blame for the film’s failings. He tries. Oh, how he tries. Because the script by Nicholas Stoller, Jarrad Paul and Andrew Mogel (from the book by Danny Wallace) is so transparently thin, Carrey must resort to mugging and improvising just to mine at least a few laughs.

It is easy to write that the character must learn to play a guitar or ride a motorcycle. A smarter script would have had Carrey’s character try to figure out how to honor major requests that seem impossible.

“Yes Man” is at its best when Carrey shares screen time with Zooey Deschanel. Their romantic chemistry is not that hot, but Deschanel seems to be having such a good time, it becomes slightly infectious.

Sadly, it is only slightly.

It is nice to see Carrey return to what he does best. He just needed a better vehicle to make the trip.

If someone asks you to go see “Yes Man,” just say “No, man.”


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