Monday, May 18, 2009

Yes Man (2008)

Directed by Peyton Reed. At first I was going to accuse Jim Carrey of making the same movie over and over, one similar to "A Christmas Carol," in which a guy in need of an attitude adjustment has a metaphysical experience that changes him for the better. In this movie he plays a guy who decides the only way to get himself out of the horrible rut he is in is to say yes to every option before him -- and it works. At first his life improves by leaps an bounds. But eventually it all goes too far and in the third act he learns the virtue of moderation and balance, etc.

Anyway. My first inclination was that Jim Carry has made this movie a lot, so I looked at his IMDB profile and realized that I was thinking of "Liar Liar," his 1997 comedy in which a patently insincere man is cursed with an inability to tell anything but the total truth at all times. This forces all sorts of comic situations but also teaches him the virtue of moderation and balance, etc.

Looking more closely at Carrey's IMDB profile, my initial thought was that I had been mistaken and that he has made this specific movie fewer times than I'd thought. But has he, really? "The Truman Show" (1998). "The Majestic" (2001). "Bruce Almighty" (2003). Even 2004's credibility-laden "Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind." All of these, in only a somewhat broader way than "Liar Liar" and "Yes Man," portray a man who either learns or teaches the same relatively superficial life lesson. Holy cow, he's starring in a re-make of "A Christmas Carol" due for release later this year!

That said, this is not a bad movie. Is it so awful for someone to make such similarly themed movies if they approach plots differently and are funny? This movie has funny parts, though I didn't get the ending (somebody explain it to me). Also here you've got the Zooey Deschanel, whose got great screen chops. I have a feeling she's a great singer because I've now seen her sing in two movies (this and "Elf") and in neither one of them does she make me uncomfortable. People singing almost always make me uncomfortable. I might be the person who most like music who least likes real singing. "Yes Man" is notable as the first fictional movie I've seen to feature as part of its plot a rock band that didn't make me uncomfortable to listen to.

Jim Carrey's overall tendency to make the same movie over and over may be what made his performance in the 2005 remake of "Fun with Dick and Jane" refreshing to me. This one is not like the others, and I don't know why more people didn't like it. The story and its message was more outwardly focused. It was a social satire and less cerebral. He could stand to make more like that. I don't recommend he make more like 2000's "How the Grinch Stole Christmas," which has a box I won't even look at let alone its actual frames of film.

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