Jim Carrey stars as a man who vows to say yes to every opportunity, a fairly ironic role for an actor who really needs to start saying no to stale scripts like this one. The trailer made it look like a semi-sequel to Liar Liar, but Yes Man rolls by sort of like a slide show of Carrey's greatest hits, a throwback to the spastic rubber-faced antics of yore.
Indeed, as Carl, a negative, closed-off bachelor-banker who makes excuses to everyone, and would rather rent Transformers than face the world, he's desperately living in the past and refuses to grow up. Case in point: Most of his friends are roughly 15 years younger than he is, led by blandly handsome nonentity Bradley Cooper (Wedding Crashers) as the perfunctory best pal, with hipster Danny Masterson (That 70's Show) as backup wise-ass. This crew fails to get Carl to give a toss about anything but himself, until a random encounter with an old friend (the ubiquitous John Michael Higgins) leads to a self-help seminar-cum-new age revival meeting, where the messianic guru (a hammed-up Terence Stamp) shames Carl into saying "Yes!" to everything that comes his way.
First move: Giving a homeless guy a ride to a city park, where he runs out of gas but is saved when adorable arty chick Alison (Zooey Deschanel) zips ups on a scooter. Deschanel excels at being irresistible, and tries to will the movie forward by the gleam of her smile and the dazzle of her saucer-sized blue eyes. It nearly works, especially when they let her sing (Deschanel put out a fine indie pop album this year with She & Him), and her exceedingly quirky faux-punk tunes highlight.
She's also good at playing those tantalizing flirtatious moments right before the kiss — romantic comedy money shots — making her coupling with Carrey improbable but enjoyable. Unfortunately, the rest of the movie sort of lays there, giggles in lieu of belly laughs, as Carl learns Korean, bungee jumps, takes flying lessons, engages in a bar brawl and approves every crazy loan that comes across his desk, with Carrey furiously mugging his way through it all. It's not an awful movie, just sort of lazy, mostly shot in Los Angeles, and requiring nothing much of its actors or audience but a smile and a nod.
Corey Hall writes about film for Metro Times. Send comments to firstname.lastname@example.org.