Plot: Carl (Jim Carrey) lives an isolated lifestyle, avoiding his friends and family, trying not to do much of anything if he can help it. A split with an ex pushed him into this negative head space and he has burrowed deep inside, unwilling to do even simple social interactions if possible. At work he denies bank loans, then refuses to meet up with his coworkers, and ignores his brother’s phone calls, hoping that the world will just leave him alone. But he has learned his brother is getting married and eases his stance a little, only to find himself dragged to a self help seminar and in the crosshairs of a guru who convinces him it is time to say yes. As in, say yes to everything, whatever comes along, Carl has to agree and take the opportunity. At first, this leads to some odd situations, but soon he meets the beautiful, quirky Allison (Zooey Deschanel). He falls quickly for her and the two embark on some wild adventures, during which Carl starts to enjoy being open to new and different things. But how long can he sustain this new outlook and when it ends, will his new relationship end with it?
Entertainment Value: A fun, if forgettable Jim Carrey vehicle, Yes Man has some good laughs, but doesn’t stand out like some of Carrey’s better work. This could be due to the material trying to walk a line between wild humor and quasi-serious tones, which dilutes both sides of the equation. I think the movie could have embraced the madness a little more and been more memorable, as the dramatic elements are paper thin and do little to enhance the picture. I don’t think “be open, but use common sense” is that important of a social message, so perhaps less emphasis on that and more Carrey doing what he does best would have worked wonders. When Carrey is allowed to go wild, the movie is a lot of fun and seeing him in these ridiculous situations is a good time, if a little repetitive in this case. His performance is his usual rubbed faced, manic effort that is the real draw of Yes Man, but it suffers when the focus shifts from chaos to the attempts at dramatic moments. Zooey Deschanel is wisely cast as the quirky girl, while Bradley Cooper, Terence Stamp, Rhys Darby, and John Michael Higgins have solid supporting roles here. Fionnula Flanagan makes the most of her outlanish, over the top sex starved grandma role as well. A more than solid movie for fans of Carrey’s brand of humor, but also somewhat on the inconsistent side.
A few bare asses and a brief look at some topless women, but most of the nudity is during a seminar and shown from a distance. The whole “picture the audience naked” trick taken to the limit. The rest of the sexual content is off screen, such as the horny grandma taking out her teeth before a sexual encounter. But this is a PG-13 Jim Carrey movie, so to expect sleaze is kind of unreasonable. A bar brawl has mild violence, but no bloodshed. So the usual Carrey style pratfalls and other physical gags, but no real blood or violence here. Some fun lines throughout, delivered in wild fashion by the colorful cast. Higgins gets a good number of humorous moments, while Stamp more than earns his screen time with some terrific, deadpan deliveries of hilarious self help cliches and lingo. Some of the situations are on the zany side, but overall Yes Man is in line with the usual Carrey style comedies.
Overall Insanity: 1/10