Jim Carrey lost a lot of goodwill. Though Bruce Almighty was a huge hit that was five years ago, while his interest in doing dramatic work and in removing himself from doing goofy comedies has soured his reputation. And watching Carrey in Yes Man, he seems stretched out. Older. Watching him with Zooey Deschanel, their age difference jumps off the screen, especially on Blu-ray. But comedy moved away from SNL cast members heading up a comedy where they go wacky to the ensemble films like the way the Apatow crew have gone, while Adam Sandler is one of the last men standing. Where Mike Meyes took a bullet last year with The Love Guru. Yes man scraped at hitting $100 domestically, which is respectable, but points out that though Carrey still has an audience, it’s not his world any more.
Carrey stars as Carl Allen in what amounts to a high-concept pitch. A grumpy bank manager by day, after his break-up with a long time girlfriend he’s gone into reclusion, spending nights watching DVD’s and hiding away from the world, refusing to attend boss Norman (Rhys Darby’s parties). He runs into old friend Nick (John Michael Higgins) who gets him to go to a seminar where the leader of a self-help movement (Terrence Stamp) tells him he must say yes to everything. Such leads him to meeting Alison (Deschanel), and his life getting generally better by saying yes to everything. It also leads to hijinks, like getting really high on Red Bull, getting blown by an elderly lady (sans teeth, tres risqué), and learning Korean (which would never come in handy later), getting into a bar fight, and jumping off a bridge.
The third is act is a bit forced, but the film was directed by Peyton Reed, and has a carload of ringers, from Darby, to Bradley Cooper (who’s about to come in in a big way with The Hangover), to Danny Masterson, to Brent Briscoe, and you get the sense that this is one of the bigger ensemble pieces Carrey has done (at best Steve Carrell in Bruce Almighty comes the closest to sharing Carrey’s spotlight). It’s regime change of sorts, but Carrey seems game. If only he had made this film a couple of years ago, as his boyishness is starting to wane.
I’m of the camp that finds Zooey Deschanel one of the most charming actresses going right now, but she seems to have a soft spot for making bad movies. She’s good in this, but I hope cinema finds out what to do with her. She sells the relationship (she’s close to being a Manic Pixie Dream Girl), but then in this film so is Carrey. But the bottom line is that not only are there enough laughs, but Reed manages to get the right tone for such a thing, and it makes it all work. On some level, it’s probably a better Reed movie than a Carrey film. Points to Luis Guzman for a great cameo.
Warner Brothers offers the film in widescreen (2.35:1) and in 5.1 Dolby Digital and True HD. The transfer is excellent, and a digital copy is included. There’s no commentary, but there’s “Downtime on the Set of Yes Man with Jim Carrey (4 min.), “Jim Carrey: Extreme Yes Man” (12 min.) and these play up the wacky. Then there’s “On Set with Danny Wallace: The Original Yes Man” (8 min.), and it gives the author of the book the film is based on a spotlight, and more wacky Carrey. “Future Sounds: Munchausen by Proxy” (5 min.) gives Zooey Deschanel’s band in the film the spotlight. “Say Yes to Red Bull” (2 min.) shows Carrey drinking Red Bull for the first time for the film, while “Yes Man: Party Central with Norman Strokes (Rhys Darby)” (2 min.) has Darby riffing on his apartment set. All five of the Munchusen by Proxy songs are included in music video form (15 min.), and I must admit I have a soft spot for at least three of the songs (“Who Are You?,” “Yes Man” and “Uh-Huh”). There’s also additional scenes (8 min.), and a gag reel (6 min.).