A lot or a little?
The parents' guide to what's in this movie.
What parents need to know
Parents need to know that this comedy will likely appeal to young Jim Carrey fans excited to see him back on familiar (i.e. non-dramatic) turf. Although it's not as crude as the "gross out" comedies that have been so popular recently, there is some iffy stuff -- including a scene in which an elderly woman offers to perform oral sex on the main character (his facial expressions are shown) and another in which his bare butt is visible. There's also plenty of swearing -- everything from "ass" to "f--k" -- and a lot of product placement.
- Parents say
- Kids say
What's the story?
Sandbagged by a divorce, Carl Allen (Jim Carrey) is a virtual recluse, content to shuttle between his Los Angeles apartment and the bank where he works as a loan officer. If he does venture out, it's to the video store to pick up the DVDs he prefers to watch alone or to the coffee shop, where he won't even take a flier from the guy handing them out front. "No" is his favorite word: He screens his calls, dodges his friends, and has pretty much dropped out of life. But a chance encounter brings him to a seminar run by self-help guru Terrence Bundley (Terrence Stamp) whose rallying cry to his followers is to literally say "yes" to everything. And that Carl does, for better or worse.
Is it any good?
Yes Man isn't exactly original, but it's fun. After an extended hiatus from comedy -- his last live-action movie was the 2007 thriller The Number 23, and before that, 2005's Fun with Dick and Jane -- in YES MAN Carrey has found a vehicle that again makes the most of his elastic face and spastic humor. In many ways, it's reminiscent of Liar Liar -- only here he doesn't have to tell the truth, just say "yes." Carrey has mellowed just a little with age, too, which is perfect for the role. Co-star Zooey Deschanel is the perfect complement; as Alison, the jogging photographer/singer Carl falls in love with, she's offbeat enough to take the saccharine off, but still sweet enough to give Yes Man heart.
Still, some of the movie's gags are pretty done before they even get started. Getting laughs out of showing a hospital gown-clad man's backside? Been there, done that (see Jack Nicholson in Something's Gotta Give). The Internet jokes -- wife-finding Web sites, genital enhancement spam -- are fairly stale, too. But in a year filled with gross-out Apatow-ian films, it's somewhat of a relief to sit back and lose yourself in a traditional comedy that's absurdly cheesy, but in a good way. And the premise (the film was inspired by a memoir by Danny Wallace) is intriguing: If you say "no" to life, then it responds in kind to you, so why not go for it?
Talk to your kids about ...
Families can talk about why kids want to see this movie -- is it because of the story or because Jim Carrey is in it?
What makes something a "Jim Carrey" comedy? Would you like his movies as much if a different actor starred in them? Do you like his dramatic movies? Why or why not?
Discuss the movie's message. Why is Carl the way he is in the beginning? What does he learn? Is the lesson applicable in real life, or just fodder for a Hollywood blockbuster?
- In theaters: December 19, 2008
- On DVD or streaming: April 7, 2009
- Cast: Bradley Cooper, Jim Carrey, Zooey Deschanel
- Director: Peyton Reed
- Studio: Warner Bros.
- Genre: Comedy
- Run time: 104 minutes
- MPAA rating: PG-13
- MPAA explanation: crude sexual humor, language and brief nudity
- Last updated: September 21, 2019
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