If this movie were made today, it would totally be called “YAAASSSSS Man.” And I’m okay with that.
Occasionally I’ll look at a movie and go, “wow, I remember watching the shit out of this when it first came out.” Like, when it was first released in 2009, I must have seen The Hangover at least eight times. I saw it in theatres twice, I had the DVD, and it seemed that whenever I went over to someone’s house to watch a movie, The Hangover was always the feature presentation. Similarly, I’ve honestly seen Yes Man (2008) more times than I can count. For all of 2008, it was my go-to pick for movie night. Well, that and The Dark Knight (2008). And Get Smart (2008). And Mamma Mia! (2008). Damn, 2008 was a great year for movies.
Based on the memoir by Danny Wallace, Yes Man follows Carl Allen, a cynical and anti-social bank loan officer who says no to every offer and opportunity that life throws his way. After alienating his closest friends, he attends a self-empowerment seminar where he agrees to say yes to everything from that moment on. Hilarity ensues and Carl learns that while constantly saying yes lands him in some sticky situations, it also enriches his previously unfulfilled life.
First things first, let’s talk about Jim Carrey. Ace Ventura: Pet Detective (1994), Liar Liar (1997), How the Grinch Stole Christmas (2000)…this man is responsible for introducing me to comedy movies at a young age. Carrey always approaches each role with charisma and energy to spare, and the role of Carl Allen is a departure from the zany and over the top roles that made him a star. Having Carrey portray a man practically bereft of personality is a gamble that pays off, as his well-timed sarcastic jabs and droll delivery are just as hilarious as his trademark manic physical comedy. But you know what is hands down the funniest thing Carrey does in Yes Man? Multiple ridiculous faces to the camera. So simple and yet so hilarious.
Playing Carl’s love interest Allison is the always adorable Zooey Deschanel. This is a bold statement, but I think Carl and Allison may just be one of my favourite movie couples. Despite the jarring 18 year age difference between them, which I’m honestly still bewildered by to this day, Carrey and Deschanel are a great match. They have a natural rapport and chemistry that makes their playful dialogue feel effortless and real. I mean, this role is pretty much Deschanel’s MO right? A quirky, artsy, down-to-earth girl who is charming and sweet? The fact that she was born to play this part is probably why she’s done so dozens of times. Hey, if you can get paid to be utterly lovable then go ahead and earn that paycheque Deschanel. Sidenote, you know the band Allison plays in, Münchausen by Proxy? Was I the only one who desperately wanted to download the songs from their set? If you know where I can find the full-length versions, please let me know. “Late Night Booty Call” is a certified BOP.
Speaking of downloading music, this movie made me fall in love with and repeatedly play Third Eye Blind’s “Jumper” on a loop. Every time I watch the scene where Carl talks a suicidal man off a ledge by playing an acoustic version of the song, I LIVE! The perfect choice of song, the impromptu musical number that has the crowd below singing along, and Carrey’s surprisingly pleasant rendition of the song get to me every time. BRB, gonna go listen to “Jumper” for the 58th time today.
One of the reasons why I love Yes Man is because of its overall message: Say yes to things because in your heart you know you want to. Who knows? Opening yourself up to new possibilities may just lead you to something you’ll end up loving or have always wanted. The montage of Carl taking flying lessons, going to see an unknown band, learning Korean, and indulging in impulse purchases best sums this up, and does so in a satisfying way. Seeing Carl expand his horizons, try new things, and meet new people is such an inspiration because let’s face it: haven’t we all at one point in our lives been the reclusive, pessimistic, and unfulfilled Carl? In fact, one thing the movie does incredibly well in the first 10 minutes, is show us all the ways Carl rejects the joys of life and shies away from his friends. You can really relate to this movie and that makes it such a winner in my book. Also, anytime the message of your movie inspires me to live my life in a more positive way, you get the seal of approval from me. Yes Man simultaneously makes me want to go to more parties, and take up more artistic hobbies.
So we’ve covered that Carrey is a comedy icon and Deschanel is the human equivalent of sunshine and roses, but you know who we haven’t talked about yet? Rhys Darby as Norman. Or, as he’d prefer to be referred to as, “Norm.” Norm low-key steals the entire movie from its incredibly talented leads and in my opinion, is an underrated comedy character. He’s so lovably clueless that it’s an absolute delight to watch. Oh my God, you know what the most endearing thing about Norm is though? The fucking amazing and costly “Harry Potter” theme parties that he throws on the regular. They’re exactly the type of party I want to go to, I would gladly pay for someone to throw one, and I need it more than I need air in my lungs. Darby is just one of several great character actors in Yes Man, including John Michael Higgins and Terence Stamp.
Though its premise is simple, Yes Man still manages to be an inspiring, heartwarming, and thoroughly enjoyable comedy. Ultimately, isn’t that we want out of any movie? If nothing else, at least find enjoyment in all of the glorious mid-2000s trends that this movie has to offer: Blockbuster, flip phones, MySpace references, and a pre-The Hangover Bradley Cooper.
Does Yes Man get a yes from you?
Let me know in the comments or on social media!