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Friday, December 19, 2008

Review: YES MAN

Since I was about six years old, Jim Carrey has been, to me, the pure, physical manifestation of perfect, comedic acting. I grew up treasuring Liar Liar and the Ace Ventura series. Bruce Almighty proved he still had it in him, and, to this day, he has never let me down. I'm one of those fans who believes he even does a great job in his more dramatic roles like Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind and The Majestic. Even though I didn't particularly like The Number 23, I still thought he was great. Jim Carrey has truly never let me down. He's one of a kind. He's a master.

He's, in a word, majestic.

And here, in his new cheesy comedy, he shines like the light of EƤrendil. It would have been a mediocre movie without him, but Carrey takes it from a C+ to an A-. The thing about Jim Carrey is that he has established himself as something. He's a real guy, but he's incredibly goofy and zany. And when you walk into the theater, you know that it's ok. You don't need to be seeing Frost/Nixon, and dumping yourself into an emotionally draining movie. You can sit back in your seat and watch the true master of physical comedy make you laugh throughout, literally, the entire film.

Yes Man is basically Liar Liar, but instead of having to tell the truth, now he has to say yes to every opportunity that is presented to him. Carl Allen (Carrey) is a banker who thrives on the word "no". He doesn't go out, he avoids his friends, and he watches terrible movies like Transformers alone. His ex-wife has already moved on to another jerky guy, he misses his promotions, and his life is looking pretty bleak.

Well soon Carl learns that one little word can change his entire life around - yes. An old friend of Carl's finds him and drags him along to a "Yes Seminar", hosted by the famous philanthropist Terrence Bundly (Terence Stamp). Terence immediately sees through Carl's life, with one penetrating look, and before Carl knows it he is saying yes every time an opportunity presents itself. And of course, before long, his life is going great, and Carl starts to feel happier and generally more fulfilled. Of course, the real challenge occurs when Carl has trouble distinguishing what should be a "yes" and what should be a "no". The story is simple, and it works.

In order for a movie like this to work, you have to show a believable chronology of what leads a man to going from no all the time to yes. This was my fear walking in. Would it be that simple? If it was, the movie would lose all credibility. But YES, it does succeed. Carl's turn from no to yes is detailed and traced beautifully. It's all really believable.

Now for the acting. As I said earlier, Carrey is phenomenal. It may sound like I'm just a biased fan, but I mean it. He's just too funny for his own good. He's just over-the-top enough so that you can still laugh, but also feel like he's a real guy. Zooey Deschanel is great as well, but let's be honest, when is she not? She's adorable, and you feel every emotion she feels. She's one of those actresses who really draws you in without trying. I always end up thinking I would like to be friends with someone like her. I also have to give some honorable mention to Bradley Cooper, who plays Carl's best friend. After having only seen him in Wedding Crashers as the biggest jerk in the world, I didn't know what to expect. He wasn't especially funny, and he was treating Rachel McAdams like shit.

Let's be honest, I hated him at first.

But he's really great in this movie. Some of his one-liners are the biggest laughs in the movie, and I have to applaud him. I really have fond memories of his seemingly improv style of acting. This goes for him as well as Rhys Darby, who plays Carrey's boss. It's not often when Jim Carrey plays well off of other people, but in this movie, he plays off Cooper and Darby really nicely.

So what's it gonna be? Do you want to laugh? Do you want to see a movie about being optimistic? Do you want to go home, and get into bed with a smile on your face?

The answer is yes.

4 stars

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