Jim Carreyis back! Carrey stars as Carl Allen, in this new take on romantic comedy, as a man so discouraged in life that his only response to anything new is refusing. Then one day a crazy friend Nick (John Michael Higgins, A Mighty Wind) shows up and convinces him to attend a Yes Man conference. Terrence Stamp (Alien Nation) stars as the leader of a cult-like “yes” group where the members are forced to say “yes” lest the universe unload negativity on them. After a good trial period Allen’s obsession with “no” turns to “yes” with remarkable consequences Allen gets a raise, a girl and his friends actually start to like him once more.
With predictably unpredictable occurrences: sex with an elderly woman, signing up to organize a wedding shower and bungee jumping, Carrey has plenty of opportunity to exhibit his comic chops. And of course in the film, there are plenty of opportunities for the great physical comedy for which Carrey is known: taping his face beyond recognition, falling flat on his face and riding a Ducati motorcycle with his butt hanging out.
The great character actress Zooey Deschanel (The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy) is Allison, Allen’s love interest in the film, and a free spirit perfect for a Yes Man. The chemistry between the two seems quite real and more than just movie magic. Not only does Allison genuinely like Allen but she’s blown away by his spontaneity. Deschanel’s seeming real delight in the antics of Allen, there are some moments where her expression is startled not surprised, either exhibit an uncanny talent on her part or Carrey’s amazing improvisation.
One surprise in the film is Bradley Cooper. I thought, following his portrayal of Zachary “Sack” Lodge in the Wedding Crashers, it would be hard for him to come back to likeability for me. Surprisingly, as Allen’s best friend Peter, Cooper comes off well and seems to be a good guy. Not a great performance but a good solid and believable one.
This is by no means a great film, but for the subject matter it is quite good. The directing is good. The writing marginal, some of the comedy does not come off well and seems forced, but overall good. When Carrey is given space to be Carrey, and I imagine allowed to improvise, the movie comes together for great moments. I give the most credit to Deschanel for making the film better than average. Even when she’s off the screen her personality seems to linger and affect Allen. I think most audiences will like the movie and it may do well at the box office.
One last thing for Hollywood: Zooey Deschanel opposite Scarlett Johansonn in a Jane Russell/Marilyn Monroe style remake might well be a winner.
3 stars+ out of 5.