Carl Allen (Jim Carrey) is a man who's worked hard in the first third of his life in order to reach that peaceful plateau where he can disappear. Graduate, get a college degree, settle in with a company, work your way to that high five-figure salary bracket, then ride that wave until the end of your life. On paper that's not a bad plan, but is it human? Similar in moral to Along Came Polly and this year's barely seen Chaos Theory, Yes Man proclaims "no", and that a life lived through the weighing of options is a life wasted. Accept everything, refuse nothing... even if it's a denture-free blowjob from your neighbor granny. (Yes, awkwardly, that really happens in Yes Man.)
The bulk of Yes Man plays out like two other gimmick-driven Jim Carrey comedies: Liar Liar and Bruce Almighty. In all three, a curse or gift is thrust upon Carrey's character as he spends the rest of the movie reacting to regular everyday encounters and routines under the influence of his new found power. Because of this plot constraint there's not enough time for writer Nicholas Stoller to shift around the socially significant chess pieces introduced in the film's opening. But credit Carrey for making Yes Man a watchable, if not a winning, movie. As with Liar Liar and Bruce Almighty, the jokes in Yes Man aren't funny, but it's fun watching Carrey maneuver his way through the weak material. Give the guy some quality (Me, Myself, & Irene, and Eternal Sunshine) and it's much easier to tell why he's one of our greatest modern actors.
Age has added character to the face of Jim Carrey. His mouth now holds deeper parenthesis when he smiles and there is an overall droop to the mug that once made the facial contortionist a multi-millionaire. Strangely, director Peyton Reed gives Carrey a bang-swoop head of hair that contrasts with the rest of his features. Apparently Reed was concerned with Carrey appearing too old beside his younger co-star/Yes Man love-interest Zooey Deschanel, who is eighteen years Carrey's junior. But even forgiving the noticeable age gap between the two, Deschanel comes off clumsy in her scenes opposite Carrey. Blessed with those wide, striking, chocolate eyes, Deschanel's performance still feels out of sorts, as if she's staring into the abyss of her limited range.
Having lacked an impressive performance since Elf, Peyton Reed milks the hipster crush appeal of Deschanel and puts her in scenes that play to her new found indie-rock cuteness. (If don't you think sensitive rock boy types won't be running to theaters this weekend a la girls from the Robert Pattinson/Twilight craze, you'd be mistaken.) As Allison, Deschanel is the lead singer of an avant-pop group Munchausen by Proxy, teacher of a "running photography" class, and paints to relax. She makes the perfect lifestyle match for the born-again Carl, but to the audience something still feels wrong, and when Yes Man gets to their final film-ending reunion, you heart understands the pull Carl feels towards Allison, but your head is saying "No, man, no!".