Here’s the set-up: Jim Carrey’s Carl Allen’s off-screen break-up causes an extended pity party.
Shamed and arm-twisted into going to a positive living motivational seminar, he decides to say yes to everything. It profoundly changes his life and leads to moderately goofy doings by himself, with others and to impress Zooey Deschanel’s Allison.
The comparison to Liar Liar is automatic. But Yes Man is missing the frenzied energy and the four or five gut-busting bits. It does have some charm. Much of that credit goes to Deschanel (The Happening) who at exactly 18 years Carrey’s junior is uncomfortably young to be the love interest.
You get the sense there is a genuine friendship here, and that these two really like each other. But the romantic spark needed to convince you that this is soul-mate territory is missing.
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Saying yes as a compulsion leads to learning Korean, doing the bridal shower for his best friend’s fiancé, bonding with his boss, saving a man from leaping from a building, spontaneous trips and bungee jumping. The laughs from these situations are scattered and come at you in tidy but somewhat unsatisfying episodic clumps like a TV show.
That’s not surprising because other than doing The Break Up, director Payton Reed’s experience is limited to the boob tube.
No, Yes Man isn’t side-splitting funny. There are enough laughs and fun moments that it does work. Barely.
Your disappointment in the lack of belly laughs can be blamed on The Truman Show. Like an aging athlete, once Carrey decided to give drama a shot, he lost a step. His offense used to be rapier wit followed by fits of mania. Today he’s mortal. Carrey -- however -- is still just funny enough to carry a movie.
I won’t say Yes to Yes Man or no. The best it gets is a definite maybe.
Mr. Movie rating: 3 1/2 stars
Rated PG-13 for mature themes. It opens Dec. 19 at the Columbia Mall 8 and at the Fairchild Cinemas 12.
5 stars to 4 1/2 stars: Must see on the big screen
4 stars to 3 1/2 stars: Good film, see it if it's your type of movie.
3 stars to 2 1/2 stars: Wait until it comes out on video.
2 stars to 1 star: Don't bother.
0 stars: Speaks for itself.