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HTF DVD REVIEW: Yes Man: 2-Disc Digital Copy Special Edition (1 Viewer)

Ken_McAlinden

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Kenneth McAlinden

Yes Man: 2-Disc Digital Copy Special Edition

Directed By: Peyton Reed

Starring: Jim Carrey, Zooey Deschanel, Bradley Cooper, John Michael Higgins, Terence Stamp


Studio: Warner Bros.

Year: 2009

Rated: PG-13

Film Length: 104 minutes

Aspect Ratio: 2.4:1

Subtitles: English SDH, French, Spanish

Release Date: April 7, 2009



The Film

Jim Carrey plays sad sack Carl Allen who has more or less given up on his social life since going through a divorce. He spends most of his time outside of his job as a bank loan officer improvising excuses to avoid social contact with others, including his boss Norman (Darby) and his best friends Peter (Cooper) and Rooney (Masterson). He is abruptly pulled out of his rut when an old associate named Nick (Higgins) shows up and convinces him that he needs to come to a meeting of motivational speaker Terrence Bundley (Stamp). Bundley's philosophy involves saying yes to everything, and Carl decides to put it into practice. Carl's acceptance of every opportunity that comes his way has immediate positive impacts on his life, most noticeably when it allows him to meet the free-spirited Allison (Deschanel), but complications both obvious and unpredictable threaten to undermine his new-found happiness.

The basic premise of this film is so flimsy that it makes Carrey's previous high-concept comedy Liar Liar look like Memento. The transparently generic three act structure further suggests that the screenplay was the result of a class project from a "Screenwriting 101" course. Considering these liabilities, I was surprised how much I enjoyed the film.

The key to the film's modest success rests primarily on the abilities of its cast to generate audience goodwill. Carrey spends most of the film in likeable "Stanley Ipkiss" mode rather than zany "Ace Ventura" mode, and this proves to be a wise decision. Due to the premise, he gets to engage in plenty of random wacky behavior, but knowing that his character is doing so against his better judgment due to his "yes" pact generates audience sympathy rather than eye-rolls. This is, of course, all assuming you have accepted the flimsy premise on its own terms. Deschanel and the supporting cast prove to be well-realized foils for Carrey's antics, with Rhys Darby nearly stealing the film in a role as Carrey's agreeably nerdy bank boss, a character not too far removed from his "Murray" from the television series Flight of the Conchords.

As flimsy as the screenplay is in its structure, it manages to be episodically very amusing in the specific circumstances it creates both for the sullen anti-social Carl getting caught in lies to avoid social engagements and the outside of his comfort zone yes-man he becomes. While the arc of the characters and their relationships never threatens to become unpredictable, the comic interludes are pleasantly randomly outrageous which is enough to save the enterprise for undemanding viewers.

The Video

The 16:9 enhanced 2.4:1 transfer accurately represents the film's theatrical aspect ratio. The transfer is solid with only minor and infrequent compression artifacts in scenes where one would expect them (e.g. a pan across a crowd in a football stadium). High contrast edge ringing is minor to non-existent. I literally only noticed it in one shot in the whole film. Detail is generally good, although the film does appear to have some very light filtering applied at times. Contrast appears to be on the artificially low side, especially during the daytime exteriors, but this may be a purposeful aesthetic choice.

The Audio

The English Dolby Digital 5.1 accurately represents the film's fairly conservative theatrical mix. The surround and LFE channels are employed for effect during certain sequences such as a rain storm, but the mix is normally focused across the front hemisphere of the soundfield. Within those parameters, dialog is mixed dead center with music and sound effects providing a wide stereo presence. Fidelity is generally very good and the track features a pleasingly wide dynamic range.

The Extras

When the disc is first inserted in a player, the viewer is greeted with the following skippable promotional spots. All are presented in 4:3 video letterboxed when appropriate unless indicated otherwise below:
  • Warner Blu-Ray Promo (Dolby Digital 5.1 - 1:09)
  • DVD/BD Trailer for He's Just Not That Into You (:40)
  • Theatrical Trailer for Ghosts of Girlfriends Past(2:31)
Proper extras consist of the following featurettes and are presented in 16:9 enhanced video with Dolby Digital 2.0 sound unless indicated otherwise below:

Downtime on the Set of Yes Man with Jim Carrey (3:59) mixes a montage of between take antics with brief sit-down interview comments from Carrey and Director Peyton Reed about between take boredom and the relaxed atmosphere on set.

Jim Carrey: Extreme Yes Man (11:52) is a featurette looking at four of the more extreme circumstances Carrey's character encounters during the course of the film. Describing them in detail would amount to spoilers since the random ourageousness of these events are a large part of what the film has to offer. With that in mind, I will simply mention that the four scenes discussed are identified as:
  • The Dog
  • Wheels of Death
  • Ducati or Die
  • Go Jump off a Bridge
Most of the material consists of behind the scenes on-set footage with discussion from cast and filmmakers including stunt players and coordinators. Sit down interview comments are also provided from Reed, Carrey, and Zooey Deschanel.

Future Sounds: Munchausen by Proxy (5:27) is a faux MTV News-style profile of the fictional girl band from the movie with comments from each of the band members as well as music journalists and experts. It is amusing, but probably not the kind of thing most viewers will watch more than once.

Exclusive Munchausen by Proxy Music Videos (Dolby Digital 5.1 - 14:23 w/Play All) is a collection of five complete song performances from the fictional band, which is actually the band Von Iva plus Zooey Deschanel on vocals and additional key-tar. Portions of these performances were used in the film. They are viewable individually or via a "Play All" selection. Tracks are:
  • Uh-Huh (3:49)
  • Yes Man (3:08)
  • Star-Spangled Banner (1:16)
  • Sweet Ballad (2:54)
  • Keystar (3:16)
They are all pretty funny, with my favorite being Deschanel's solo take on "The Star Spangled Banner" which appears to put her in the running to become the Jimi Hendrix of the key-tar. The band segments were one of the most entertaining things about the movie for me, so this is the kind of extra that I probably will watch multiple times.

Gag Reel (5:33) Is an amusing assemblage of flubs and outtakes that is far more entertaining than most such material thanks to the antics of Carrey as well as Rhys Darby and John Michael Higgins who all have a knack for improv that can make their mistakes funnier than their proper lines. These out-takes also offer glimpses into a few deleted scenes.

A Digital Copy of the film appears on a second disc. It is compatible with both iTunes, and Windows Media.

Packaging

The DVDs are packaged in an Amaray-sized case with a hinged tray allowing it to accommodate the second disc with the digital copy. The hard case is itself bound in a cardboard slipcase with different promotional art. This was a welcome change from the usual practice of duplicating the hard case art or simply adding minor embossment or foil enhancement to the slipcase.

Summary

Yes Man overcomes its flimsy high-concept premise to become an amusing if forgettable time passer thanks to charismatic performances from its cast headed by Jim Carrey. It is presented on disc with a very good video presentation and a solid representation of its conservative but effective 5.1 sound mix. Extras are minimal and designed to be more entertaining than informative.

Regards,
 

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