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The Warsaw Voice » Culture » January 7, 2009
Film review
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Yes Man
January 7, 2009 By Witold Żygulski   
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Director Peyton Reed is best known for his TV work and, unless you are a huge Jim Carrey fan, you would do well to give his new little foray into film a miss. Yes Man is the pinnacle of blandness despite having a solid premise and is only memorable, if at all, for a single, utterly disgusting scene.

A trawl through Carrey's filmography will only dredge up a handful of movies whose humor does not solely rely on the silly faces he manages to pull whenever he is on camera. Peter Weir's Truman Show (1998) is easily the pick of the bunch, being the only one directed by a master filmmaker instead of some run of the mill churner of slapstick shtick. Yes Man falls firmly in the below-par category. This is a double pity because the 47-year-old Carrey frequently shows us his real face in Yes Man and it is the face of a burned out man with wrinkles around his bitter eyes, of an actor who struggles to convince as a funnyman.

The idea behind Yes Man is simple enough. Carrey's character, Carl Allen, works in the loans department of a small branch of a large bank. Allen has developed into a consummate bore who has finely honed the skill of avoiding people, friends included, over a period of many years. One day he runs into an old friend who takes him along to a group meeting of the followers of one Terrence Bundley (Terence Stamp-The Limey, Dead Fish), a guru who preaches the virtues of having an affirmative attitude to life. This guiding principle is given effect by saying "yes" to whatever comes up.

Allen finds his life predictably turned around once he starts to abide by this simplistic precept. He sloughs his reclusive personality to become a party animal, catch up with old friends and make new ones, and learn to fly, play the guitar and speak Korean. He meets Allison (Zooey Deschanel-Live Free or Die, The Assassination of Jesse James by the Coward Robert Ford), a carefree singer, photographer and jogging instructor. Allen junks his reputation for caution in lending money by approving no fewer than 561 loans in a month. Most are for small sums to finance sundry extravagances and offbeat business ideas. Allen's customers are so happy that 98 percent of them pay in full and on time. Allen's superiors are so happy that they fast-track his career. His popularity and authority are such that he even talks a would-be suicide out of jumping off a building. Soon, however, the downside of affirming everything predictably begins to appear.

Yes Man has the feel of a drawn-out sitcom episode, with an obligatory joke every minute or two, a touchy-feely scene every quarter hour or so, a happy ending, and a generous helping of homespun philosophy thrown in for good measure. There is only one memorable scene and it is mostly memorable for its obscenity. Allen's seventysomething neighbor, Tillie, asks him to hang some shelves for her and he, of course, obliges. Tillie, in return, offers to "relieve him of sexual tension" and, after removing her false teeth, enthusiastically sets to. Maybe the pre-screen tests revealed an audience predilection for sophisticated humor like this, but those of you less resistant to vomiting have been warned.
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