Publisher's note: As redundant as a pacing lost soul, I am loathe to admit, Wyatt is probably our most read writer. Over a month ago, March 12, 2012, I was perusing our sister publication, Better Angels Now, and I noticed that so many of Wyatt's reviews, of the many fine films that occupy the public's interest, have not been availed to our readers through our Beaufort County Now publication.
Consequently, over the next many weeks, possibly months, we will endeavor to remedy this mild injustice by publishing these reviews, in our current improved format, for your edification. Here below is our sixteenth in a series of these older articles of interest by our good friend, Wyatt Sanderman Day.
The Return of Jim Carrey to Comedy ...
Is a huge success on the "laughometer." And just what is the "laughometer?" The short answer: it is an internal mechanism that counts how many times I lose my breath from laughing so hard. During "Yes Man," I recalled five occasions, or was it six, that registered fully on the "laughometer." A point of reference in what constitutes making the upper range of this device is: laughing to the point of tears gushing from my eyes and then my nose will register a two, laughing to the point of a mild heart attack will register an automatic three, no questions asked.
The unique factor is that I wasn't expecting that much. Jim Carrey's most recent motion picture, excepting his voice in "Horton Hears a Who," was "The Number 23." Unlike "Horton Hears a Who," which was a better than the regular animated film, "The Number 23" was a mess.
No such problem with "Yes Man." Director Peyton Reed took some great material from the screenplay by committee; Nicholas Stoller, Jarrad Paul and Andrew Mogel, who adopted their written words from Danny Wallace's book, and made a funny film that had a message - with no formulaic residue.
The story of "Yes Man" is so emblematic of the times that we live in. The economy is in the toilet, and with unemployment around 9%, people are fairly negative to say the least. One would have quite a pampered life if they did not, on occasion, feel a bit negative. Carl Allen, portrayed by Jim Carrey at his hilarious best, is a negative guy, who has not rebounded from being dumped by his girlfriend three years earlier. He finds that being alone is more manageable than being with friends, who remarkably still care about him.
It is not until he is reintroduced to an old acquaintance, Nick, played in fine hilarity by John Michael Higgins, is Carl familiarized with a positive approach to living life - saying yes rather than no. Carl joins Nick at a "Say Yes Conference" run by Terrence Bundley, portrayed with sincere farcical intensity by Terence Stamp. Terrence's mission is to teach his students that positive thoughts begin with saying yes to others, as well as to themselves, as a way of engendering a positive thought process. Carl; however, takes it too far.
When Carl reluctantly begins saying yes, he finds that he can't stop, especially when his hum drum life takes a turn for the better. He makes new friends, gets a big raise, revitalizes old friendships and gets a new, and very cute girl friend, Allison played by an enigmatic Zooey Deschanel. In one instance, when drinking heavily in a bar with his old pals Peter and Rooney, played respectively by Bradley Cooper and Danny Masterson, Carl offends a big strong guy buy kissing his girl, who then asks him to join him outside to settle the matter. Of course, Carl says yes. I do recollect this as one of my instances that registered on the "laughometer."
Another running joke is how Carl can never say no to his boss, a true and unabashed fantasy geek (dresses in "300" and "Harry Potter" garb in parties with his peers) named Norman, played by New Zealand actor Rhys Darby. Darby still sports the flat vowel New Zealander accent that he hilariously uses as Murray in HBO's "Flight of the Concords," and he just always makes me laugh - kinda' like a young Don Knotts. Another side-splitting running gag was the obvious ramifications of saying yes to the Persian Wife Finder website. His new friend, Faranoosh, played in full burqa by Anna Khaja, stayed in tow until the Yes Man pawned her off on Norm. Right up Norm's Alley.
"Yes Man" has a story that works and the formula method of story telling, that is so prevalent in the majority of big budget Hollywood comedies, is appreciatively absent. Director Reed found just the right cinematic note to explore the terrific chemistry between some very good actors. The runtime of just 104 minutes keeps this funny film tight, and a wise bet for time poor film fans. My "laughometer" ran hot and I advise you not to say no to "Yes Man."
Rated PG13. Released on DVD April 7, 2009.
This post appears courtesy of our sister site, Beaufort County NOW, with their expressed permission.