Film / Yes-Man

One word can change everything.

Yes Man is a 2008 film where Jim Carrey has to say yes to everything.

Carl (Jim Carrey) is a divorced, dead-end jobbed, stick in the mud. He says no to everything and everyone. When a friend drags him to a self-help seminar, all of that changes. Instructed to say "yes" to everything, Carl starts branching out and trying things he would never have agreed to before, whether he wants to or not. When he says "no," terrible things seem to happen to him.

It's very loosely based on the memoir Yes Man, by Danny Wallace.


This film provides examples of:

  • Adaptation Expansion: The original was inspired by some random stranger's comment on the bus. The film replaces this with a meeting with an old friend of Carl's, then a huge motivational seminar.
  • Adorkable:
    • Soo-Mi, the romantically frustrated Meganekko whom Carl eventually sets up with Norm, to great success.
    • Norm. He seems pretty annoying at first, but the more we see of the guy makes him more endearing.
  • Anti-Love Song: Sweet Ballad ("Got nothing to prove, I'm not your whore...") and Uh-Huh ("I should have been the one to break up with you...")
  • Big "YES!": The premise of the film involves Carl essentially becoming a Yes-Man, so naturally, this happens.
  • Black Comedy: Carl's friends finding him dead. With flies all over him. And in his mouth. Of course it's all just a dream.
  • Chekhov's Gun: A mail-order bride, learning to fly a plane, and a loan for a fertilizer company at first appear to be one-off gags, but all factor into the plot later when Carl and Allison are detained at the airport. The loan for the motorcycle and Lee being a nurse (conveniently at the hospital where Carl is taken) also turn out to be important.
  • Chekhov's Skill: Learning to speak Korean and play the guitar seem to just be miscellaneous examples in a montage of things Carl says yes to, but they come in especially handy later. Same with the scooter/motorcycle.
  • Close on Title: All the credits, including the name of the film, are placed at the end.
  • Comically Missing the Point:
    • Pretty much everyone who's been to one of Terrence's events seems to believe that his philosophy really is about saying "yes" to everything, rather than it just being a way of opening people up to new ideas and experiences. Carl is the only person to get the full idea behind it, and even then that doesn't happen until Terrence explicitly tells him.
    • Nick manages to miss the point in a completely different way, as he uses the "say yes" philosophy to give him an excuse to do all sorts of immoral and illegal stuff, like throwing a brick through the bank's window and supposedly blowing up a cow with a bazooka.
  • Creator Cameo: Danny Wallace who has his background cameo behind a horny old lady in the bar.
  • Double Standard: Rape, Female on Male: Carl is propositioned by an old woman who lives in his building, and when he tries to say no, he is karmically punished. Think for a second about how this would be treated if the protagonist was a woman.
  • Fake Band: Munchausen by Proxy. The soundtrack album consists of nine Eels songs and four Munchausen by Proxy songs note , and the liner notes have some fun with this: There's an essay about Munchausen by Proxy written by Eels' vocalist E and an essay about Eels supposedly written by Allison... So in other words you have a real musician writing about a fictional band and a fictional musician writing about a real one.
  • Fan Disservice: Ever wanted to see Jim Carrey's bare ass?
  • Hipster: Allison, if her strange fashion sense and a penchant for indie music and unusual hobbies are any indication. A rare non-satirical example.
  • In-Name-Only: The film is only very tenuously related to the book which it derives from, Very Loosely Based on a True Story to the point of being just "inspired by".
  • Large Ham: Terrence Stamp is over the top and seems to enjoy it. Jim Carrey, however, is much more restrained than in his earlier movies.
  • Laser-Guided Karma: Carl seems to think this is what happens if he breaks the Yes Contract, and it appears this way both times he attempts to say something other than "yes" until Terrence explains things to him.
  • Man Child: Apart from having a very childish sense of humour, Norm is a Harry Potter and 300 fanboy.
  • Manic Pixie Dream Girl: Allison, played by the trope's perceived poster girl Zooey Deschanel, is a subversion. Her quirky hobbies are entirely for herself, and she's pretty horrified at the idea of just being a tool for Carl's happiness. She also calls him out when he tells her that she's so fearless, and explains that of course she has her own fears, and that she's also perfectly happy living her life without him.
  • Maybe Magic, Maybe Mundane: The first time Carl tries to go against the covenant and say "no" he almost meets with a terrible end. From then on he's convinced that he's actually magically contracted to say "yes." When he hunts down Terrence and asks him to remove the covenant from him, he informs him there is no covenant. It's left up to the viewer to decide if it was magic, or the power of suggestion.
  • Mistaken for Terrorist: Played for Laughs when Carl is detained by federal agents who, judging by his weird hobbies, believe that he's a North Korean spy preparing a 9/11-style terrorist plot.
  • Moral Luck: A minor example. As a result of having to say "yes" to everything Carl ends up granting every loan application that he receives. He later receives praise and a promotion from his superiors. Of course, it was entirely down to chance that the loan applicants he happened to see during this period were people who wanted fairly small loans which they were able to pay back; if they had happened to be people demanding larger loans which they could not possibly repay, Carl would have granted them nevertheless, and received blame from his superiors (and perhaps even been fired).
  • My God, What Have I Done?: Terrence has one of these in the very last shot of the film, as he realizes from the hundreds of naked people, who had happily donated all of their clothing to charity at Carl's request that no-one (aside from Carl) has understood the point of his message at all.
  • Naked People Are Funny:
    • The end of the movie has all attendees of the seminar attend without clothes due to donating all their clothes, causing Terrence's "My God What Have I Done" moment.
  • Product Placement: The only discernible reason for Red Bull to be mentioned as many times as it is. And also the Tempurpedic mattress and the cup of wine.
  • Reckless Gun Usage: The hero goes skeet shooting with his girlfriend. She asks what to do, and accidentally shoots the ground. After the instructor shows her where to point, she hits the clay pigeon. In her excitement, she turns around still holding the gun and everyone in the shooting range ducks for cover.
  • Shout-Out:
    • The film has a number of tributes to the Harry Potter film series including a die-hard Harry Potter fan and a scene where the characters marathon the movie series. It should come as no surprise that producer David Heyman, who produced the Harry Potter films, also produced this movie. Or that Warner Bros. distributed all ... nine, now.
  • Squick: The scene where Carl's neighbor helps him... release. It was in-universe Squick for him too until he found out she's apparently pretty good at it.
  • That Came Out Wrong:
    • When Carl tries to bolt when his ex-wife and her new man walk up in the bar, he stretches out the word "gone" into "gone-a-rea". Oops.
    • "I might break the sacred cun-a-vunt... that sounded naughty..."
  • Very Loosely Based on a True Story: Which is to say, the premise is essentially the same but virtually everything else is different from the way it really happened. In real life, Danny Wallace started the project after being told to "say yes more" by a man on a bus — it had nothing to do with any self-help organization, and all the stuff that Carrey's character does while in yes mode is different from what Wallace did in real life.


http://tvtropes.org/pmwiki/pmwiki.php/Film/YesMan