Yes Man (2008)

Rated: PG-13 for crude sexual humor, language and brief nudity.
Length: 104 minutes
Grade: ADAB+=A
Budget: $70 million
Box Office: $243 million (98 U.S., 131 Intl., 14 DVD)

Written by: Nicholas Stoller (Fun with Dick and Jane, directed Forgetting Sarah Marshall), Jarrad Paul, and Andrew Mogel, based on the book by Danny Wallace.
Directed by: Peyton Reed (The Break-Up, Bring It On)
Starring: Jim Carrey, Zooey Deschanel, John Michael Higgins, Bradley Cooper, Danny Masterson, and Terence Stamp.

Carl Allen is stuck in a dead-end life because he never wants to do anything new until one day he is dragged to a self-development seminar where he makes a pact to say, “Yes,” to everything.

Entertainment Value: A
Extremely funny. Very much in the Carrey tradition of The Mask, Bruce Almighty, and Dumb and Dumber. The pretext for the story is a brilliant way to give the writers freedom to interject bizarre (and comical) scenes. But more than this, the movie ties events together in a way that starts to seem like Providence almost. So it’s not just entertaining, but it’s well-crafted and even meaningful. Nice.

Superficial Content: D
Drugs/Alcohol D, Sex/Nudity C, Violence B, Language D, Illegality B
There are several scenes involving alcohol and drunkenness, a man breaks a bank store window with a rock, and there are several sexual references, a naked crowd in an auditorium, and one entire scene built around the idea of a very elderly lady being sexual with the main character. Aside from this, the language is pretty heavy for a PG-13 film. I’d certainly go R-15 here.
Significant Content: A
Life is a risk, and it’s generally better to take chances and try new things because you never know what you might discover and whom you might meet. A wide variety of experiences, skills, and friends will prepare you to be able to solve problems you otherwise wouldn’t be able to. Life is a playground.

Artistic/Thought Value: B+
This is yet another case of a movie that could have been so much better if they had only bothered to exercise enough discipline to clean up the language and maybe a couple of the references. Though it winds up being really strong in some parts (such as tying the song he learns on guitar in to a later scene on the ledge), I wish they could have done it in a way that was less offensive overall to a pretty large group of people who will miss the message because of the content or because they won’t even watch the movie.

Discussion Questions:
~Carl starts the movie saying, “No,” to everything, and he spends most of the movie saying, “Yes,” to everything. What are the advantages of each of these dispositions? The disadvantages? If you had to live toward one or the other extreme, which would be more fun? More safe? Toward which extreme do you think our current culture tends to live?
~We tend to think of most sins being matters of agreeing to do bad things, but can you think of some ways in which it is sinful to refuse to do good things?
~What message is this movie giving about the importance of good judgment? Consider what this movie might have to say about zero tolerance policies.
~What sort of personal hindrances, fears, or stigmas does Carl have to give up or overcome in the process of learning to embrace every new idea?
~Make a list of five new things that you are inclined to not do. What keeps you from trying them? Are you hindered by reluctance or laziness or something else? Can you make a goal of trying one new thing every month?
~Do you actively try to meet new people outside your normal circles? Do you think a Christian has an obligation to do this?
~Carl begins the movie as an extremely sarcastic person. Do you think there’s a connection between saying, “No,” to things and being sarcastic?
~When the bank exec praises Carl for the microloans, he says that people are so grateful for the help that they’re paying back the loans at a really high rate. What implications might there be here for Christian ministry, especially as an alternative to Payday Loans?
~I claim that this movie would be better if they had cleaned it up a bit. In what ways does the vulgarity reinforce the main point? Are the people who would object to the PG-13-ness of this movie precisely the sort of grinchy naysayers who need to embrace the message of the movie more?
~This movie could clearly have been made with the main character starting out as a conservative Christian or something similar and moving toward a more “liberated” perspective. Why do you think they didn’t take this approach?

Overall Grade: A
Another success for Jim Carrey, both as a movie and at the box office.

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