This is based on a novel by Danny Wallace, and is apparently based on a true story. However, once it was given a Hollywood makeover it was reduced to something rather formulaic. This does not make it a bad film, but it depends heavily upon the strength of the performances to carry it. Yes Man has Jim Carrey in the lead role of Carl Allen – a world weary loser avoiding life and alienating his friends. A chance encounter with an old buddy who got out of the rat race, and a disturbing dream, encourage him to go to a seminar where an electrifying Terence Stamp persuades him to Say Yes to every Opportunity.

Carl’s life is soon transformed and he has a series of strange encounters, crazy adventures and a rapid shift in fortune, all because he says Yes to everything and everyone. I won’t spoil it by going into too much detail but I was generally impressed by Carrey’s performance – more restrained than it has been in other films, it convinces and entertains in equal measure.

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When we first see him every second of his life is clearly ingrained on his tired and lifeless face – you look at him and know this is someone who is merely existing. Later he gobbles up the screen in the kind of manic display that has made him so popular over the years but still, this is no Ace Ventura, this is a saner crazy man, one more believable and more endearing. I promise you, you will believe that Jim Carrey might actually be an honest to God Actor by the end of this.

But he doesn’t do it alone, there is Zooey Deschanel who is enchanting as the love interest – an eccentric young woman who enters Allen’s life through a chain of events triggered the first time he says Yes to an opportunity, as well as Terence “Scene Devourer” Stamp as the Life Coach who explodes onto the movie like God’s Hand of Vengeance, combining Biblical prophet with modern day flim-flam man. There's also an ensemble cast of charming and amusing character actors who create a whimsical and oddly dreamlike world of apparently limitless possibilities.

I laughed out loud several times in this film, which is a fair indicator that it was doing its job. However it is quite possible for anyone even vaguely familiar with the Hollywood formula to predict its path, a familiar tale of boy meets girl - they fall in love, boy loses girl, gets her back again... It isn’t the originality of its narrative which gives Yes Man its edge, rather it is a script full of humour and some reasonably intelligent observations on the human condition. No, it is not original, but yes, it is funny. Take my advice and say Yes to Yes Man.

Reviewed on: 27 Dec 2008
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Jim Carrey agrees to say 'Yes' to everything for 12 months.
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Robyn Jankel ***1/2

Director: Peyton Reed

Writer: Nicholas Stoller, Jarrad Paul, Andrew Mogel, based on the book by Danny Wallace

Starring: Jim Carrey, Zooey Deschanel, Bradley Cooper, John Michael Higgins, Rhys Darby, Sean O’Bryan, Danny Masterson, Fionnula Flanagan, Terence Stamp, Sasha Alexander, Molly Sims

Year: 2008

Runtime: 104 minutes

BBFC: 12A - Adult Supervision

Country: US


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