Jim Carrey is one of those actors that polarises audiences. Some hate his frantic limb-flailing schtick, while others love him for it. I have to say, I fall into the later category. But I think Carrey’s done his best work when playing against type in films such as Eternal Sunshine Of The Spotless Mind, The Majestic or Man On The Moon. I haven’t really enjoyed a Carrey film since Lemony Snicket’s A Series Of Unfortunate Events. But this month Carrey’s back to comedy with Yes Man.
Carl Allen’s a pretty miserable guy. His wife left him. He can’t get a girlfriend. He hates his job. And his relationship with his friends is at breaking point. His misery comes from his unwillingness to get out of his routine and try something new. Allen runs into an old friend who has changed his life due to a self-improvement program that teaches that ‘yes’ is the key to happiness in life. Allen is challenged by Yes guru Terrence Bundley to say yes to every single request presented to him. At first Allen is dubious, but as he agrees to everything asked of him, he starts to see a real change in his life.
This is a Carrey comedy that doesn’t fit in with the mad-cap films he’s done like Dumb And Dumber or The Cable Guy. It doesn’t really feel like a Carrey vehicle. Instead, it’s a romantic comedy (but not really) that features Carrey. Which will be a relief for some. Sure, there are moments of classic Carrey. One particularly funny scene features a very drunk Allen getting into a fight with another bar patron. But overall, this is a comedy that really could have starred Carrey, Steve Carrell or Jack Black. It’s pretty generic. But the writing is pretty good so it’s not awful.
Carrey is his usual great self. Carrey’s a very good actor. He proved he has the chops in his more serious roles. When he’s required to be dull and dour, he can pull it off just as much as the more mad-cap moments. What makes his character work is that Carrey and Zooey Deschanel have a lot of chemistry. She plays the love interest, Allison, a woman who is every bit the opposite of Allen. Deschanel was awful earlier in the year in The Happening. But that really seems to be down to M. Night Shyamalan’s direction. Here, she’s a lot better. One of the highlights is Rhys Darby who plays Allen’s boss, Norman. Darby’s one of the stars of HBO’s Flight Of The Conchords. And while Norman is essentially a more optimistic version of Murray Hewitt, Darby’s character from the show, it’s still great to see Darby get some big screen exposure.
Yes Man isn’t the greatest comedy in the world. And it certainly isn’t Carrey’s best. But it’s a funny movie with a quite optimistic and uplifting message. Probably more suited for DVD than cinema, Yes Man is entertaining, funny and unoffensive.