It is as certain as death: You will see Yes Man. And like death, you won't necessarily choose to have it happen, nor dictate its time or place: It might sneak up on you on an airplane, or on TV, or when you're waiting in line at the Laurelhurst and everything else is sold out, or—and this seems most likely—on Christmas. Your parents will suggest it, maybe—sometime after everyone's met up and made awkward small talk, but before it's socially acceptable to start drinking—and you will find yourself buying tickets to Yes Man, the safe, more-or-less-family-friendly comedy of the season with an uplifting message.
On the upside, though, Yes Man isn't nearly as terrible as you'd think. It also offers a couple of interesting questions for discussion: When, exactly, did Jim Carrey get that weird, haunted look about him—the one that's both vaguely desperate and smarmy? Is this movie promoting some sort of cult? And why does Zooey Deschanel have such a terrible agent?
Oh, and another one: Remember that episode of Seinfeld where George does the exact opposite of what his instincts tell him? Good, because that's Yes Man's plot, but with Jim Carrey playing George. Still bummed out over his wife having left him three years ago, Carl (Carrey) works at a bank denying people loans and spends his nights watching DVDs of Transformers and 300, making lame excuses when his friends invite him out. Until, that is, he meets self-help guru Terrence Bundley (a visibly insane Terence Stamp), who espouses a philosophy of saying "yes" to anything, no matter what the question is. Soon enough, Carl's giving homeless dudes whatever they ask for, readily agreeing when scary dudes at bars ask him if he wants to take this outside, attending his boss' crappy Harry Potter-themed parties, and clicking "yes" on persianwifefinder.com. He also says yes to going to a rave and drinking a bunch of Red Bull, which makes him act like Ace Ventura, and he also meets up with adorable Allison (Zooey Deschanel), who rides an adorable scooter (and does so wearing an adorable helmet!), sings in an adorable art-pop performance group, and offers adorable advice like "The world is a playground!" And at the end, everyone feels great! (Though, in what seems like a missed opportunity, not a single person in the film tells Jim Carrey to go fuck himself or to become a heroin junkie.)
Still, Yes Man is funnier than you might expect, probably thanks to the fact the script is partially written by Forgetting Sarah Marshall director Nicholas Stoller, that there's better-than-necessary direction from The Break-Up's Peyton Reed, and that there's a great supporting turn from The Flight of the Conchord's Rhys Darby, as Carl's Hogwarts-loving boss. Make no mistake: You'll forget 90 percent of Yes Man before it even ends—but as ways to kill time on Christmas Day go? You could do worse.