It’s not that Yes Man is bad, it’s just not that good. The film felt very dated and not very honest. Remember earlier this decade when we got a slew of romantic/comedies that all felt the same no matter who was starring in it or who directed it? You knew that the star had some problem with their life, found a false solution, fell in love, kept that solution from the loved one and the climax was always the love interest finding out? You would always have to find out if they would stay together? Which they always did! We’ve moved on from that. Our comedy has evolved and this film hasn’t.
We all know that Jim Carrey is funny, but he’s already made it past these kinds of films. He blew us away with Ace Ventura and then completely re-established himself with Eternal Sunshine of the Spoltess Mind. He’s better than middle of the road comedy.
The Director Peyton Reed has the ability to shock you. He was the man behind Down with Love, which I personally loved because he took an idea and ran with it. Sadly, I am guessing because that film didn’t do very well, he’s now slipped back into dated, safe comedies like The Break-Up and Yes Man. Both make him successful enough to keep going, but are not a true representation of the creativity he is capable of. Whether that is his fault or that of the studios I don’t know, but what he’s made is a bland comedy, that feels like it had way to many hands in it. He can do better and we as audience members deserve.
The thing is, the comedy market has kind of been monopolized by Kevin Smith, Judd Apatow, and Seth Rogen. Name a comedic film that you’ve liked in the past 2 years that didn’t have one of them involved?
The reason we all love all of their movies is because there is a sort of raw honesty and lack of polish that goes with them. Apatow takes a good script, picks good actors and then trusts them. It looks like he allows his actors the freedom to do what’s funny in the moment and run with it. Kevin Smith knows how to write a good piece of material and not allow the actors to over-think it. Seth Rogen is great at delivering and writing lines that feel completely natural.
The humor in Yes Man makes me think that a group full of writers and producers sat in a room and said “you know what would be funny? If _____ happened.” Not funny. It’s like someone re-telling you a joke. They think it’s funny because they lived it, but second hand the best you can do is try to force a smile and give them a pat on the back. That is exactly what Yes Man is, a regurgitated joke.
The movie hits theaters December 18th, 2008.