Overall Impression – Fun, but it felt like something was missing.


Who’s your main character? – Carl Allen.

What’s he trying to accomplish? – Professional: become a ‘Yes Man’.  Personal: win over Allison.  Private: not spend his life alone.

Who’s trying to stop him? – Minor obstacles along the way… mostly his own cynical self, but there’s no real antagonist. 

What happens if he fails? – He remains alone.


Orphan – After being spurned by his wife, Carl lives alone, brushes off his friends and takes no joy in life.  He’s the ultimate cynic, saying “no” to every opportunity that comes his way.

Wanderer – When Carl attends a ‘Yes Man’ seminar, he’s convinced to change his life around by saying “YES!” to every opportunity.  Carl’s skepticism is well founded.  Every time he says “yes”, something bad happens, but when he decides he’s done with the program, a dog nearly mauls him, so Carl now believes in the ‘covenant’: that bad things happen to those who say “no”!  So, he continues saying “yes” and remains a skeptic… until he meets Allison.

Warrior – Encouraged, Carl starts saying “yes” to every opportunity – and it works!  He gets promoted, he and Allison begin dating… until Allison learns about the ‘Yes Man’ program and thinks Carl only agreed to their whirlwind romance because he felt he had to, not because he wanted to.

Martyr – Carl risks everything to win Allison back, going so far as to cause a car crash to get Terrance Stamp to remove the ‘covenant’ – even though there isn’t one.


This was a fun movie, but the something that I felt was missing lies in the concept.

YES MAN follows the ultimate cynic who starts saying “yes” to every opportunity that comes his way.  The obvious comedic potential lies in saying “yes” to weird opportunities (which he does), and then we have Jim Carrey, who acts funny wherever he is (which he does). 

Many people likened YES MAN to LIAR LIAR, and found the latter to be superior.  I agree, because the concept for LIAR LIAR elevated everything comedically, instead of merely facilitating it.  Carrey plays a lawyer who doesn’t want to tell the truth, but has to, and there’s absolutely nothing he can do about it.  Fletcher has to deal with his worst nightmare (and ours): telling the truth all the time.

In YES MAN, Carl throws himself into a bunch of outlandish situations.  Why?  Because he has to say “yes”.  Why must he say “yes?”  Because of that covenant thing… which doesn’t really exist.  Then why’s he really doing it?  Maybe it’s because he wants to change.  Would LIAR LIAR be funny if Fletcher wanted to tell the truth?    

In my mind, this kind of comedy has to have a hero who absolutely doesn’t want to change, but doesn’t have a choice.  That’s the “something”.  LIAR LIAR had it.  I’m not sure YES MAN did.

                                                                                                                                                                                                Dan Pilditch

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