Rating: 2 stars
What will Jim Carrey be forced to do next? In Liar, Liar, he played a lawyer who, after being put under a spell, couldn’t tell a lie. In Yes Man, he plays an anti-social loan officer who makes a covenant with a self-help guru to embrace the power of yes. So what will it be? Switch places with his dog? Embrace his inner child? Do everything his Rice Krispies tell him to do? (I shouldn’t give Hollywood any ideas.)
The premise actually works—to a point. Everything that’s good about Yes Man, you’ve already seen in the trailer: It’s funny when Carrey’s Carl says yes to flying lessons, yes to Korean lessons, and even yes to a mail order Iranian bride. And the film’s philosophy of affirmation actually resonates, especially when Carl grudgingly gives a ride to a homeless guy and ends up meeting the girl of his dreams (Zooey Deschanel).
But Yes Man simply isn’t funny enough—several of the bits go on way too long (like the one where Carl tries to save a suicidal man by singing to him) or are simply awkward (like the icky sexual encounter beween Carl and his elderly neighbor). And Carrey himself seems a bit out of sorts. He’s proven that he can do antic, rubber faced silliness in his sleep. And he’s proven that he can act, too—rewatch Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind if you need reminding. What he seems most uncomfortable with are these roles in between—ones that require humor and a leading man’s natural charm. Indeed, most of the film’s real charm comes from Deschanel, who plays a free-spirited lead singer of an ironic art rock band. (I totally want to see her band live!).
Come to think of it, Deschanel and Seven Pounds’ Rosario Dawson need to escape from their current films and team up in some sort of buddy road flick, a la Thelma and Louise. Free Dawson and Deschanel!