"The world's a playground. You know that when you're a kid, but somewhere along the way everyone forgets it".
I bought this film on DVD in 2010, shortly before I started writing my blog. I only watched it once. It left such an impression on me that I clearly remembered most of what happened. That makes it even stranger that I've left it unwatched since then. I have too many films in my collection; too many good films.
Jim Carrey plays Carl Allen, an employee in the loans department of a small bank in Los Angeles. He leads a lonely life since his divorce from his wife Stephanie. They were only married six months, and the break up has caused him to crawl into his shell. He would rather spend time alone than go out with his friends. He doesn't even have a dog. His best friend Pete keeps encouraging him to go out and have fun, but he makes excuses.
A friend he hasn't seen for a while invites Carl to a lecture by a motivational speaker, played by the magnificent Terence Stamp. The essence is that people should learn to say Yes. By saying Yes to everything that is offered or requested in life people will become lucky. By saying No bad things will happen.
Carl tries it out. Why not? What could possibly go wrong? After a series of misfortunes, such as running out of petrol after giving a homeless man a lift, he meets a young woman called Allison. She's wild and spontaneous, everything that Carl isn't. The mixture of Allison's spontaneity and Carl saying Yes to everything welds them together as a pair.
This is a very uplifting film. It speaks to me personally. I could never say Yes unconditionally to everything, but it makes me feel I should say Yes more often. If you don't keep yourself open for new experiences you'll never enjoy any adventures. Carl decides to learn Korean and how to play guitar. Both skills become useful in the course of the film. He also talks to Mormons, but that doesn't help him. There are limits even to saying Yes.
Jim Carrey has made both comedies and serious films. Some of his films are borderline cases. "Yes Man" has some humorous moments, but it's too inspirational to be dismissed as a comedy.
Jim is a real life Yes Man. One scene called for him to do a bungee jump, which he's never dome before. A stunt man was ready to do the jump, but Jim insisted on doing it himself. The script required him to answer his phone while he was jumping, and he made a bet that he could do it. At least, he attempted to bet the director $50 that he could answer his phone in mid-jump. The director refused to accept the bet, because he knew Jim too well.
Music plays an important part in the film. Alison is the singer in a rock band called Munchausen by Proxy. In the film they're portrayed as being unsuccessful, with only five fans, but they're remarkably good. The band was created for the film by adding the actress Zooey Deschanel to an already existing all-girl trio, Von Iva. Despite being a fake band, created only for the film, they had a short period of success. They were invited to perform at science fiction conventions, although I have to wonder what's sci-fi-related about them.
Success Ratio: + 1.2
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