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Yes Man: Genuinely Feel-Good Fare

It may be a silly and simplistic movie, but Yes Man is also one of the few movies this year that left me grinning from ear to ear at the end. From the premise we know that it's about the power of positive thinking and being open to things and changing one's life for the better, etc. etc. And the crazy, great thing about this ridiculous film is that it’s actually pretty effective in making you think that you can (and should) do just that. It's funny, sure, and even more inspiring. And what’s wrong with that — especially these days?

Divorced loan officer Carl (Jim Carrey) is basically a "no man," turning down everything from invitations to parties to the loan requests he hears every day. At the suggestion of a friend, however, Carl finds himself at a self-help-type meeting all about the power of saying "yes" to every opportunity that comes around. So, Carl makes a pact with himself to say "yes" to everything. And while this leads to some bizarre (and sometimes dangerous) situations, it also frees him to try new things, which ultimately improves his attitude, his job life and his relationships. He even meets the irresistibly fun, charming and beautiful Allison (Zooey Deschanel). But it turns out there are negative things that can come from this extreme yea-saying, and Carl learns that the program has its limitations. Yup, that's about it for plot, so for more of my take on the whole thing,


As you can see, there's not a whole lot going on here. As a movie it isn't noteworthy or extraordinary; everything about it is straightforward, from the ordinary characters to the uncomplicated storyline to the unremarkable filmmaking. But maybe that's part of the point: It's just a simple story with a simple message: Just. Say. Yes. And because it's so basic and uncomplicated, it's pretty damn easy to get swept up in the joyful, positive, forward motion of it all.

It's not even heartwarming or all that sentimental — it's just happy. Jim Carrey is the perfect choice for this role since he's funny both when he's playing the curmudgeon and as the guy who's "seen the light," so to speak. He commits fully to both sides of this character, and thankfully scales back the hokey just a bit so we’re not left watching Ace Ventura slobber all over cute-as-a-button Zooey Deschanel. I really like him in this movie and it makes me want to see more of this Jim Carrey who we've glimpsed before a few times, the version who's not only comfortable but good at playing a regular guy who learns stuff but is still just a regular guy in the end.

That's the thing, really: He's relatable. And because we can see ourselves in him, we also end up thinking that maybe our lives could also change if we said "yes" more often. We drink the Kool-Aid, so to speak. That positive thinking thing, it's powerful stuff. It works for this random dude, why wouldn’t it work for me, too?

Photos courtesy of Warner Bros.

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