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You Might Want to Say "No"

New film is same old Carrey


Quick: Name the last successful Jim Carrey comedy. Stumped? You have to go back five years (an eternity in Hollywood) to Bruce Almighty and take note of the fact that since then, Will Ferrell and Judd Apatow have taken over the world of comedy. Carrey's latest effort, Yes Man, doesn't remind us how good Carrey was in the '90s, but it does have some decent laughs and is pleasant to watch, if not altogether likeable.

Carl Allen (Carrey) is bored with life. He's an introverted loan officer who says "No" to everything, including his best friend Pete (Bradley Cooper) and buddy Rooney (Danny Masterson) every time they want to hang out. Carl still feels scorned because his ex-wife (Molly Sims) left him, and he doesn't want to be hurt again. But when he runs into a former co-worker (John Michael Higgins) who convinces him to attend the "Yes Is the New No!" conference, he converts to being a "yes" man.

Suddenly, Carl says "Yes" to everything: guitar lessons, flying lessons, learning Korean, giving a homeless man (Brent Briscoe) a ride, sexual relations with his elderly neighbor (Fionnula Flanagan) and more. Some of these situations are genuinely funny, such as his boss's (Rhys Darby) geeky theme parties, while others are, well, it's hard to say what the others are because two women seated behind me talked for the entire movie. Ordinarily, I would have kindly asked them to shut their obnoxious mouths, but this time I decided to see how bad it would get. The airbags had a comment for everything that happened and even openly predicted what they (often wrongly) thought would happen next. Worse, they did so with the volume and indifference they no doubt use at home, where surely nothing spoken on the television is ever actually heard.

In the parts of the film that were audible, Carl's enthusiastic "Yes" to everything lands him in the company of Allison (Zooey Deschanel), a free-spirited singer and organizer of early morning jogs in which people take pictures while they run. They are soon dating and falling in love, which means director Peyton Reed's (The Break-Up) movie takes the ultra-predictable romantic comedy route toward its conclusion instead of veering off into something more interesting.

The film is 104 minutes long, but it takes a good 60 of those minutes for the love story to even be established, so everything up to that point is just Carrey doing silly things while the story goes nowhere. Without conflict, there is no tension and suspense, which means for most of the film, Yes Man feels like one long, aimless Saturday Night Live sketch that occasionally makes you laugh but gets old quick.

The movie has a nice message of opening oneself to new experiences, and there's nothing wrong with the performances, but as a whole, it's not funny or good enough to lift Carrey out of his comedy drought. So should you go see Yes Man? Probably not.