Peyton Reed is one of the most underrated directors working in Hollywood today.
Who is Peyton Reed?
His first feature was 2000’s ‘Bring It On,’ which smartly mixed actual feminist theory into of-the-moment girl power sloganeering (all inside a whip-smart take on the traditional, male-driven sports movie). He followed ‘Bring It On’ with ‘Down With Love,’ the underrated Renee Zellweger/Ewan McGregor romantic comedy that served as a lavish widescreen ode to the Doris Day/Rock Hudson films of yore. Then he followed that with the contemporary romantic comedy ‘The Break Up,’ which did the thing that audiences least expected – it dealt with the dissolution of a relationship in honest, messy, sometimes depressing ways. Just life. He’s a director who loves comedy and does it well, but is always probing into different aspects of what the genre is and what it can handle. (He was briefly attached to the ‘Fantastic Four’ remake, which at one point was to be set in the 1960’s and feature George Clooney as Mr. Fantastic.)
And now, he’s back and he’s brought Jim Carrey with him.
‘Yes Man’ is Reed’s fourth film, loosely based on a memoir by British author Danny Wallce in which he said yes to every question, invitation, opportunity, offer, proposal, request, or email that was presented to him. In the movie, of course, all of the book’s Englishness has been removed, and Jim Carrey works in a bank and is so paralyzed by his fear and self doubt that he just stays in his apartment, avoiding neighbors, friends, and co-workers.
That is, until he goes to a convention held by Terrence Stamp (in a role very similar to his cult leader in ‘Bowfinger’), in which the power of “yes!” is vividly presented to him. From that night forward he’s saying “yes” to everything – and, of course, these decisions turn out to be very beneficial to him (mostly). To tell you what, exactly, he says yes to and how that impacts his life would be to rob the fun of ‘Yes Man’s’ central conceit.
How about I just tell you about the supporting cast who pops up along the way as an avenue to lure you in? Well, Zooey Deschanel, adorable as ever, plays the love interest. Rhys Darby, from ‘Flight of the Conchords,’ plays Carrey’s boss. Danny Masterson and Bradley Cooper are Carrey’s best friends. And along the way on his campaign of affirmation, he runs into John Michael Higgins, Molly Sims, Luis Guzman, and Fionnula Flanagan (Eloise Hawking from ‘Lost!’)
But the stellar supporting cast is only one reason to totally dig ‘Yes Man.’
Under Reed’s direction, ‘Yes Man’ is equal parts smart and silly (but never, ever dumb). It’s an affable, goofy good time, and, for a hugely budgeted studio picture, artfully edited and shot. Even some of the gags that fall flat don’t register much just by the sheer velocity of the movie (this thing motors along nicely). I was surprised by just how much I said ‘yes’ to ‘Yes Man.’ It’s a whole lot of fun.
Wes Anderson’s regular cinematographer Robert Yeoman shot ‘Yes Man’ and the 1080 p/VC-1 transfer of Yeoman’s work on this Blu Ray release is pretty stunning.
‘Yes Man’ is a fairly colorful movie – not outwardly so, there aren’t any scenes that take place amidst flashing neon or anything – but it still has a healthy but subtle color palette. Those colors are brilliantly represented here, with the daytime scenes (Zooey’s character is a jogging instructor) really standing out.
The night scenes don’t look quite as good, but they're still very strong, with nice, deep blacks. There are also a couple of semi-musical number moments, which combine the best of light and color, and are even more dazzling.
There’s nice contrast and not an overwhelming amount of noise or artifacts (there are a couple of instances, but not enough for me to even jot down on my notepad). I did, however, note that in one scene the skin tones of Carrey and Zooey seemed somewhat washed out, but as soon as I noticed it, we were on to the next scene, where colors popped, grain was minimal, and everything looked really, really great.
It seems many comedies are over lit and obnoxiously bright, lacking any subtlety or nuance. That isn't the case with ‘Yes Man.’ It looks like a real movie, deep and interesting, and the transfer represents that in a really fantastic way.
Again: just great.
Mark Everett composed ‘Yes Man’s’ score, he of the alt pop band The Eels, and it sounds really great on this True HD 5.1 track. You know what else sounds great? Pretty much everything!
While many comedies work the front channels vigorously, with dialogue centered up front, and the soundtrack just kind of filling in the other channels. That’s not the case here. While the dialogue is more up-front, there are a number of sequences throughout the movie that really work the entire range of audio channels, including the meetings of Terence Stamp’s Yes disciples, those jogging scenes, a ‘Harry Potter’ themed party, and a few others that I’d rather not spoil. The mix is crisp and clear, with the more active aspects of the mix never drowning out the dialogue and vice versa.
There are also a couple of musical sequences thanks to Zooey’s character being involved with a hilariously named art pop band called Munchausen by Proxy. Zooey has cemented herself as a gifted singer outside of the movies and she provides her own vocals for these sequences, which really bring the sound mix to life.
There’s a nice, full bodied ambience to the mix too that makes to liven things up – again, it makes the film sound like a more serious movie, not just some goofy comedy. Really, really well done stuff.
It should be noted that the disc auto-plays an embarrassingly cheesy ad for the awesome, faith-questioning power of Blu Ray. (Editor's Note - Am I the only one who wants to scream when these things come on while you're obviously watching a Blu-ray already?)It’s so annoying and a lot of the movies they showcase are completely terrible. One of the great perks to DVD (and now Blu-Ray) was the lack of pre-movie trailers or commercials. Sigh. Happier times. Also, the lack of commentary is unfortunate.
While I was initially doubtful that 'Yes Man' was going to be any good -- I was expecting a tired retread of 'Liar Liar' -- it turns out that it's a sharp, warm comedy that almost everyone should be able to enjoy. While the special features are somewhat lacking, the pristine audio and visual quality, both with more ooph than you'd expect from a mainstream comedy, are enough to award this a "Recommended" tag. Say yes to 'Yes Man.'