Yes is not the new No
"Yes Man" is based upon the popular book by Danny Wallace who after being told by a stranger on a bus that he doesn't say "Yes" often enough went on a strange journey of discovery as he set about saying "Yes" to any opportunity which came his way. It certainly sounds like a good idea for a movie and who would be better suited to take on the humorous escapades and close scrapes than Jim Carrey who had already had a hit with a similar idea which was "Liar, Liar". Unfortunately as a movie "Yes Man" is flawed and although mildly entertaining is in reality just a series of loosely related funny escapades which become a little too repetitive by the time things come to an end and the movie runs out of steam.
Carl Allen (Jim Carrey - Bruce Almighty) is a man who has got himself into a rut; he says "No" to pretty much everything including his friends and ignoring the phone when it rings. He even says "No" at work where his job at a bank sees him denying one loan after another. But when an old friend confronts him with the fact that he is no longer living Carl agrees to go to a "Yes Man" convention and so starts an unexpected journey. He makes the decision that he will no longer say "No" to everything but "Yes" instead, leading to some surprising changes in his life including a romance with the quirky Allison (Zooey Deschanel - The Happening).
"Yes Man" is a very good example of why certain concepts work better in the literary world rather than in a movie. The whole concept of saying "Yes" to anything from penis enlargement to helping a homeless person can be the source for very funny scenes but only when it feels part of a bigger story or built upon to give it a meaning, not when used in just a series of loosely related sketches. It lacks the impact when it's not really relating to anything else and that is part of the issue with "Yes Man" and why despite attempts to link all the various scenarios that Carl finds himself in it just doesn't work. The movie just doesn't have time to expand on each scene having to hit us with the humour and then moving on quickly to the next gag.
It also doesn't help that by nature "Yes Man" is going to end up a seriously repetitive movie as it's all about saying "Yes". To be honest by the time the movie got to half way I was losing interest because of the repetitive nature and because scenes felt a little unrelated. For example an unusual scene which sees Carl having sex with another character not only felt slightly out of place due to its leaning to the gross but because in relation to the overall storyline it didn't really say anything of importance.
Although "Yes Man" does primarily feel like a series of loosely related sketches it does try to link them together with a very stereotypical love story, boy meets girl, they fall in love but oops something happens to spoil things, and well you know the rest. Yes it does give the movie a little meaning but because it's so stereotypical the impact is lost and tied up with the repetitive nature of the movie feels a little disappointing.
On a positive note I do think that Jim Carrey was the perfect choice to play the main role. He tones down his rubber faced antics and is actually quite likeable as Carl as he changes from a no man to a yes man. But this is not classic Jim Carrey and much of what we see here is the same sort of comedy he was doing before his dalliances with serious drama, it's just with a mediocre storyline it all feels slightly unoriginal and expected. Alongside Jim Carrey is Zooey Deschanel who plays the quirky Allison who is predictably the love interest he finds from saying yes to everything. Deschanel is certainly a breath of fresh air making a stereotypical character more interesting because she fits the quirky nature of the character quite well.
But there are issues and the romantic storyline which sees Carl hooking up with the quirky Allison is rather strange. The perceived age gap between the characters makes the relationship a little uncomfortable and you start to wonder why. The thing is both Jim Carrey and Zooey Deschanel are good in their roles but together it's just a little to strange for comfort.
What this all boils down to is that whilst I can appreciate many people will find "Yes Man" right up their street, especially those who welcome back Carrey providing his stereotypical slapstick in a comedy which could have been made with him in mind. Personally I found it all a little too predictable and repetitive thanks to the actual concept of a man turning his life around by saying "Yes" instead of "No".