Yes Man

It’s been quite an interesting ride for Jim Carrey.  The man who started his career with goofy personas and characters all built on his near-inhuman physical elasticity and penchant for over-the-top humor found great fame and fortune with such endearing characters as Rubberface, Ace Ventura, Lloyd Christmas, and even The Riddler (yes, Batman Forever stunk, but Carrey played his character to the hilt.  I blame the film’s faults solely on Joel Schumacher, one of the worst directors this side of Uwe Boll) also tried his hand at serious films such as Man on the Moon and The Truman Show.  And for the most part, he did well, and Truman remains one of the more touching and poignant films of his long and staid career.  After flirting with drama, another stint with the Farrely brothers, a turn as The Grinch, and one of the most challenging roles any actor could ask for–that of Joel Barish in Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind–Carrey has spent the past few years returning to his proverbial roots in outlandish physical comedy.  His recent roles have been much more along the lines of those that originally made him a household name, and to some extent he has to be trying to prove to the world that he still has it.

But does he?

Enter Yes Man, the film from directory Peyton Reed, about a man named Carl Allen who is so down on himself and life in general that he turns down every chance for surprise, fun, or even enjoyment.  But soon Carl, played by Jim Carrey, decided to say “yes” instead of “no” to virtually any opportunity that comes his way.  Whether it’s a homeless man asking for money, a friend asking him to foot the bill for the bar tab, a stranger asking if he wants a ride on her motorbike, or the chance to take a spontaneous trip to exotic Lincoln, Nebraska, Carl soon realizes that saying “yes” often leads to more excitement and, ultimately, a life well lived.

And that’s about it.  Sure there’s a few conflicts with friends, an oddball coworker, a love interest, and a lesson about moderation, but really this film isn’t much more than a story about a guy who learns to have fun by saying yes (though, ultimately, in moderation).  The movie’s true raison d’etre is simply to provide a vehicle for Jim Carrey to be Jim Carrey.  That means plenty of physical gags, odd voices and accents, sexual jokes, and more than a few PG-13 rated squirm-worthy moments that felt like they should have belonged back in the Farrely trash bin where they belong.  While the overall concept seems nifty enough, it’s almost as if the filmmakers, in adapting Danny Wallace’s original book, were searching for nothing more than a way to get Jim Carrey back into an outrageous funny role.  And then crafted a screenplay around it.

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