Carl Allen (Jim Carrey) is a sad and lonely man who has had the same job as a loans officer in a bank for the past five years. His marriage failed three years previously. He spends each evening alone watching videos and refusing to attend social functions. He spends all his time saying ‘no’. He says ‘no’ to the people who want loans, ‘no’ to going out, ‘no’ to everyone and everything. Then one day he meets Nick (John Michael Higgins), an old friend whom he hasn’t seen for 10 years. Nick has become a ‘yes’ man after attending a ‘Yes’ seminar run by the charismatic Terrence Bundly (Terence Stamp). Nick drags Carl along to one of these seminars. Once there, Carl is put in the spotlight and forced to agree that he will start saying ‘yes’ to everything.
From the time Carl leaves the seminar, he starts saying ‘yes’, and surprising things begin to happen. He meets a very nice girl, Allison (Zooey Deschanel), learns Korean and also to fly and play the guitar. He is promoted and his social life expands. When he says ‘no’, bad things seem to happen. He believes that he has to say ‘yes’ all the time. This leads to inevitable misunderstandings and comic adventures. It is left to Carl to work out exactly when you should say ‘yes’.
Marriage breakdown; life choices
There is some violence in this movie. For example, there is a fight at the beginning of the movie because Carl kisses someone else’s girlfriend. The boyfriend takes Carl outside to fight. He punches Carl a couple of times and knocks him over. Carl is so drunk he behaves in a ridiculous way.
Content that may disturb children
In addition to the violent scene mentioned above, there are some scenes in this movie that could scare or disturb children under eight. For example:
- Nick throws a rock at a bank window. This is supposed to be comedy but may not be understood as such by young children who may be concerned or may want to copy it.
- In one scene Carl is at home watching a horror movie where a man is about to cut his leg off. This will be viewed as comedy by an adult audience. That is, Carl is so bored he just wants the man to cut off his leg. The scene may worry some children, however.
- Carl has a nightmare that he is dead. Younger children may not understand this, but the older end of this age group may find this scene worrying.
Younger children in this age group may also be disturbed by some of the scenes mentioned above. Children in this age group might also be concerned by a scene where a person is trying to commit suicide by jumping from a building and Carl rescues him.
Children in this age group are unlikely to be concerned by anything in this movie.
There is sexual humour and innuendo in this movie. For example:
- Terrence says that Carl ‘can’t summon the enthusiasm to masturbate’.
- An old woman offers Carl ‘sexual release’ in return for putting up shelves. A friend later talks about the old woman's ‘talents’.
Alcohol, drugs and other substances
There is some use of alcohol in this movie. For example, there are several scenes where the characters are drinking. There is also one scene where Carl gets very drunk to the point where he is swaying about. He is also pictured on the floor of his toilet the next day.
Nudity and sexual activity
There is some nudity and sexual activity in this movie. For example:
- Several of the characters kiss. Carl grabs and kisses someone who is not a girlfriend but just someone he meets in a bar.
- There is a scene where one of Carl’s neighbours, an old woman, gets him into her flat to help put up her shelves. She then offers him ‘sexual release’ as payment. They end up on her bed, she puts her dentures in a glass on the bedside table, moves down the bed, and Carl starts making amazed sounds. The rest is left up to the imagination. Later one of Carl’s friends meets the old woman and explains that he has heard about her talents. He then leaves a party with her.
- Towards the end of the film, Carl is riding a motorbike in a hospital gown, without any underwear. There is a clear view of his buttocks.
- At the end of the film, there is a large crowd of people who have no clothes on and are covering breasts and genitals with pieces of paper. Naked buttocks are shown.
The following products are displayed or used in this movie: BMW, Coca Cola, and a Ducati motor bike.
This movie contains some medium-level coarse language.
Ideas to discuss with your children
Yes Man is a comedy based on the 2005 biography of the same name by British humorist Danny Wallace. It is likely to be enjoyed by older teenagers and Jim Carrey fans. It is not a movie for younger children.
The movie’s main message is that if you don’t try something, then you will never have the opportunity to learn from the experience. The movie also suggests that good things can come from ‘giving it a go’. The other side of the coin is that you need to think about the choices you make and their possible ramifications.
Values in this movie that you might wish to reinforce with older children include:
- listening to others
- the importance of friendship.