Reviewed by Simon Sweetman

IT’S VERY early on and this might prove to be wishful thinking but I sincerely hope that Yes Man is the worst film I see all year. It was the first film I saw in 2009, January 2 in fact. Not a good start for my year in cinema. And like anyone in New Zealand I probably went to support Rhys Darby getting to ham it up alongside Jim Carrey.

Darby’s cred will not be injured by appearing in this film but he is also not deserving of any major praise. His role is essentially a geekier version of Murray, his Flight Of The Conchords character, and he has about four minutes of screen time. And in case you think I’m being mean to our Darby I will still go on record as saying he is the best thing in this movie.

Carrey coasts along in a film he has already made at least twice (Liar Liar, Bruce Almighty) and manages to stoop lower than when he agreed to hover around what was apparently a movie called Fun With Dick And Jane.

I like Jim Carrey. I know, I know, I should probably keep that quiet these days. But I think the man has major talent. He can be funny, he can play serious. He has been in at least three very good films and it’s still the crime of the last millennium that Cable Guy was panned on release; it was a virtuoso performance, a comedic tour-de-force of a film that will stand above any of his comedy work when the dust clears.

Unfortunately for the dust to clear it would mean someone would need to blow through either of Zooey Deschanel’s ears and hope that no one is standing on the other side. This woman is wood in a movie. In Yes Man she is actually worse than when she tried to out-statue Mark Wahlberg in The Happening. She could be good, but she’s cruising along accepting roles where she phones in quirky/off-kilter. After hearing her musical side-project last year (the album Volume One by “She & Him” which was Deschanel and M. Ward) I would hope she moves full-time in that direction.

Most insultingly Yes Man is based on a true story and treats its source material more irresponsibly than last year’s Simon Pegg-starring disaster, How To Lose Friends And Alienate People.

The thing I’m trying to say here I guess is that Yes Man is not funny. Not at all. Not even close. And I would think that was pretty much the idea behind releasing a film in the comedy genre: making it funny. But this movie contains no laughs. I was looking at my watch within 25 minutes of being in the cinema. I had clawed through the seat in front of me with my bitten-off-due-to-boredom fingernails by 45 minutes. And about 100 minutes in, when I sniffed credits around the corner, I made a pact with myself that if I ever heard someone that I had ever considered to be a friend suggest that this movie was in any way, shape or form “good” then I would cease to be friends with them.

That’s how seriously I take comedy. And the only thing funny about this film – where Carrey’s gimmick if you like, because it’s little more than that, is that he says yes to everything to see his luck change – is that it was even made in the first place.

Simon Sweetman’s ‘notes’ continue as a regular fixture on The Lumière Reader throughout 2009.