Yes Man (2008)

Rated PG-13. Our ratings: V-2 ; L-7 ; S/N-7. Running time: 1 hour 48 min..

At that time the disciples came to Jesus and asked,
‘Who is the greatest in the kingdom of heaven?’ He
called a child, whom he put among them, and said,
‘Truly I tell you, unless you change and become like
children, you will never enter the kingdom of heaven.
Matthew 18:1-3

Carl and Allison attend a Harry Potter pary,

2008 Warner Brothers Pictures

A slight variation of Liar, Liar, Jim Carrey’s latest film is a bit silly, and certainly too vulgar in places, and yet it raises a basic question about our attitude toward life. When we first meet him Carl (Jim Carrey) is so soured on life because his girl friend dumped him three years ago, that he says “No” all the time—to his friend trying to cheer him by asking him to go out, to beggars and anyone wanting to borrow from him, as bank loan officer to those who come seeking a loan, and even to his awkward, lonely boss who wants to become his friend. Then his friend almost forces him to attend a lecture by a motivational guru who browbeats and manipulates him into saying “Yes” to his self-development program based on saying “Yes” to everyone and everything.

As in Liar, Liar, this leads to all kinds of complications, seemingly injurious at first, and yet ultimately bringing him to meet Allison (Zooey Deschanel), the true love of his life. It is too bad that the often inane script has him saying “Yes” to a lecherous old woman who performs oral sex on him, as well as a liberal sprinkling of the “F” word: otherwise this might have been a fair to good film for church groups to discuss the theme of saying “Yes.” Theologians in discourses on grace have talked about God’s saying “Yes” to humanity, as well as discipleship in saying “Yes” to God in Christ.

For Reflection/Discussion

1. Do you know someone like Carl, always negative about life? How does their attitude bring about the very things that they dread—defeat, loneliness?

2. The motivational speaker is way over the top, and of course simplistic, but what truth do you see at the core of his presentation?

3. What do you think of Allison’s observation, “The world’s a playground. You know that when you are a kid, but somewhere along the way everyone forgets it.” Does this sound like anything that Jesus said?

4. How might this quotation fit Carl: “I don’t know Who – or what – put the question, I don’t know when it was put. I don’t even remember answering. But at some moment I did answer Yes to Someone – or Something – and from that hour I was certain that existence is meaningful and that, therefore, my life, in self-surrender, had a goal.” — Dag Hammarskjöld (Markings)