Yes Man is a genuinely funny adaptation of Danny Wallace’s excellent (and mostly true) book of the same name. It matches the heart and delivers the same message, in what’s both an easy and mightily enjoyable hour and 44 minutes.
Still reeling from his divorce, Carl Allen has withdrawn from life. With an increasingly negative outlook on life, he shuns his friends and weasels his way out of social engagements in favour of renting out DVDs, while his days drag, saying no in his job as a Bank Loan Officer.
It’s only when, through an old colleague, he finds himself at a motivational “Yes!” seminar – where attendees are encouraged to take life by the horns by saying “Yes!”. Here, Carl is publicly, albeit reluctantly, forced into promising that he’ll answer “Yes!” to any opportunity that comes his way.
Directed by Peyton Reed (Ant-Man), Yes Man (2008) stars Jim Carrey as Carl alongside Zooey Deschanel as the very lovable Allison. Bradley Cooper, before his Hangover breakthrough, supports as Carl’s best friend, Peter, while Terrence Stamp leads the Yes! Seminar and a brilliant Rhys Darby stars as Norm – Carl’s boss and friend.
Why do I love this film so much? I am Carl Allen.
I’ve said no to life, plenty of times. I don’t take enough opportunities. Honestly, I can look back and deliver a veritable raft of examples from my school days where I turned down going out with friends. In fairness, it was down to struggles with depression and social anxiety. And, I am gradually getting better with it (emphasis on ‘gradually’).
But regardless, there’s just something so incredible uplifting about seeing someone you can associate with – and being honest, essentially sub yourself in for – undergo such a shift in the right direction.
Carl says no to life, he finds himself at something of a standstill, stuck in a rut with no real desire nor any idea of how to pull himself out. So, he starts saying yes and undergoes this real change, arriving at the quite wonderful conclusion that you’re not saying yes because you have to. You’re saying yes because you want to. That’s the terrific message at the heart of both the film and the book.
The story itself isn’t earth shattering, though it doesn’t need to be. Against the backdrop of saying yes, which throws up a hilarious and at times uplifting variety of different situations, this eventually becomes boy meets girl. Having said that, it never quite feels a romcom. Carl’s journey and his relationship with Allison go hand-in-hand.
Why do I love this film so much? I am Carl Allen.
It’s a cast oozing with chemistry. The pieces fit together, led by Carrey who conquers the role of Carl with ease. He delivers his journey from Mr. Negative to Yes Man with dollops of his hallmark eccentricity sandwiched with genuine moments of vulnerability. It’s a strong show of character development, with Carl’s shift in perspective one you can absolutely get behind as a viewer.
Although the story is markedly different from the book, the same beats set out by Wallace are more than met. Quite simply, Carl’s journey leaves you with a smile on your face come the end.
He’s partnered with Deschanel, who nails the role of the inherently lovable Allison. She’s a perfect foil to Carrey’s Carl, full of life, fearlessly optimistic and infectiously enthusiastic. She runs a class in which she, and those with her, run and take pictures. It’s out there but it’s typically endearing from a joy of a character, with the cherry on top her performances with her band, Munchausen by Proxy. Here, Deschanel gets to showcase her more than decent voice with a series of quirky, damn catchy songs.
Allison is an injection of life into the film at just the right time. Although arguably the crowning glory of Carl’s journey, and the ultimate example of why you should say ‘yes’, she’s so much more than just a plot device. She has her own stuff. Her own hopes. Her own fears. She’s well rounded, well developed and together with Carl, they bounce off one another delivering a sickly sweet combo that anchor the film and ramp up the necessary emotional investment for the story to work.
Elsewhere, Rhys Darby is quite simply a gem as Norm. With his love of costume parties, from Harry Potter – featuring Quidditch, and movie marathons where he’s able to recite lines by heart – to 300, Norm is a blast and with his general enthusiasm for life, there’s a lot to love and indeed a lot to learn from the Aussie. We all need a Norm in our life.
This is genuinely a nice bunch of people, damn funny and you fully enjoy their company for the hour and forty-four minutes we spend with them.
Across the board, the cogs all fit together and whirl into a well oiled machine. Carl’s circle is a believable one and crucially, a likeable one. This is genuinely a nice bunch of people, damn funny and you fully enjoy their company for the hour and forty-four minutes we spend with them.
This film is my happy place. It’s one of those films I don’t find myself getting tired of. It’s just as funny on each watch, just as nice and never fails to put me in a good mood. And, you have no idea how much I’d love to have a go at becoming a Yes Man myself one day. I have a blog now, I suppose, so there’s a place to tell my tales…
Anchored with a smartly assembled cast, Yes Man is infectiously sweet and surprisingly real at points.
If you’re having a bad day, or indeed a good day, there’s never really a bad time to watch this film. It’s guaranteed to put a smile on your face. It’s the definition of feel good.