I was worried about Yes Man being a decent adaptation of the book from the trailer alone. I love the Danny Wallace autobiographical book about his experiences when he said yes to every opportunity that arose for one year. It was funny, sad, unbelievable but at the same time rooted in realism and tragedy that it worked. Even if Wallace had embellished aspects of the story, it all stayed very believable and wasn’t so silly and so extreme that you ever thought he may actually be making it up.
I then saw the trailer with Jim Carrey. The fact that they cast Jim Carrey to play Danny Wallace didn’t really fit but he’s a star so I looked past that. The trailer then went on to show Jim Carrey skydiving, drinking too much Red Bull and snorting hot sauce, all of which was absent from the brilliant book. A book I thought had enough comedy, heartfelt moments and actual real life situations that you wouldn’t have to make an over-the-top Jim Carrey vehicle from it.
As I watched the film, I became more and more aware of how different it was from the book. Danny Wallace was a radio producer living in London, not a loans manager living in America. He said no to going out with his mates and would rather stay at home and watch a film but I didn’t recall him missing any huge events that made him question his actions and he certainly did not end up saying yes to everything because he went to a self-help seminar about it. The film was taking too many liberties and I wasn’t impressed.
That was until Jim Carrey started saying yes to everything. That was when the changes and reason for the differences from the book became evident. This story works best on film as a vehicle for Jim Carrey. The more he throws himself into the world of “yes,” the more zany, crazy but ultimately likable he becomes. It’s funny to see him forced into taking a homeless person “home,” going to parties dressed as Harry Potter and the fact he is a loans manager works because when everyone comes into to ask for a loan… he has to yes!
The more I watched the film and began to enjoy what Jim Carrey was doing with the role and the ridiculous things he had to do, all much more extreme than anything Danny Wallace did, I realised that’s what makes the film work. Danny Wallace’s book is fantastic but it is based in realism. You believe that Wallace watched the same show five times because he met the same guy handing out leaflets advertising it or that he signed up for every credit card or spam e-mail that asked him too but if he’d done the stuff Jim Carrey does in the film, the book would lose its magic.
It works the other way too, the book would not work on film. It’s not zany enough. As a documentary, maybe, but not as a Jim Carrey film because there is no opportunity for Carrey to really let loose and do what I believe he does best, zany, outrageous comedy. He is the key to why I really enjoyed this film. The premise is great but Jim Carrey takes it to an extreme that only he can. I was genuinely laughing out loud at some of the situations he gets himself into because he has to say yes.
It helps that he’s supported by two fantastic actors. Zooey Deschanel is great as his “love interest” who he meets because he’s saying yes to everything (something that actually mirrors the book slightly). She gets to be quirky and slightly crazy and I love the scenes where you see her perform her music live. Rhys Darby actually manages to do something almost impossible and out-crazies Jim Carrey. When you go to his themed parties and the way he acts as work, you can’t help but laugh.
In places the film does lose its way. There are times when Jim Carrey does whatever he’s asked, like getting on the ground because a police officer tells him too and not moving until he’s told too, which isn’t quite the same as saying yes to every opportunity. The film also begins to grind a bit towards the end when it becomes more about the love story then the situation Carrey’s character has got himself into but the antics in the bulk of the movie more than make up for it.
Overall, even though it differs from the book hugely, the more I watched, the more I realised how much it had too. Wallace’s book is fantastic as a true story but Yes Man the film is better as a Jim Carrey vehicle and it fits him perfectly. If you enjoy Carrey, back being crazy, zany and outrageous then you’ll love Yes Man. I certainly did.
(1 – Awful, 2 – Average, 3 – Good, 4 – Great, 5! – Must See)