Yes Day (2021)

“I said yes to everything.”

Yes Day should’ve be a fun movie and a fun time. It needed to be a cheap Chuck E. Cheese pizza party, a family centric comedy laced with enough semisweet chocolate to keep the whole endeavor tied together. That’s what it strives for from the outside looking in. The ambitions mean well, and the movie wants to be cool and hip and presentable and ultimately respectable. But for me, Yes Day misses all of those marks and then some, making for a shamble that’s too poorly scripted and acted to take seriously in the dramatic moments, and is too boneheaded and exaggerated to allow the slapstick humor to shine through when responsibility is abandoned. It’s a warm and diarrheic pigsty of a film, one where the only comfort it provides comes from rolling around in its own steeping slop. This voiceless, off key karaoke performance of a film is about as bad as movies get.

Allison Torres (Jennifer Garner, trying her best to Make Mom Fun Again) used to be quite the adventurer. The unsubtle script addresses this from the get go; prior to becoming a mom, she was down for whatever, whenever. Time changes things though. Married to the childlike Carlos (Édgar Ramírez, a gifted actor who’s demonstrably miscast here) years later and hounding after their three kids, Allison simply cannot continue to play the villain in the story of her own life. And for the first time ever, a creepy guy in the school cafeteria who’s cooking frozen tots (Nat Faxon, playing into the dumb fairy godmother tendencies) thankfully interjects and proposes the titular “Yes Day” movement. Allison and Carlos buy in like a pair of old folks susceptible to having their Social Security numbers swiped. They’re all in. The adults are game. It’s more a matter of convincing the kids that they can earn a “yes day” at that point.

Reeking of privileged opportunities and positions where good faith promises will come true no matter what, Yes Day presents a sort of uniquely and inherently suburban dreamscape, one where worriless kids mostly get to do what they want when they want, always at the physical and emotional toll of their parents’ pockets. And that’s why the outings during the day made no sense to me. An early and horribly scripted sequence features the entire family scarfing down an ice cream food challenge for breakfast. Another finds them driving through the car wash windows down, much to the chagrin of Nando (Julian Lerner) and Ellie (Everly Carganilla), both aided by the eldest Katie (Jenna Ortega). Yes Day lacks logic and reason and most of all heart, and desperately needed someone at the top to reject these childish impulses for indulgence. It’s a Nickelodeon/Disney TV movie with a studio budget, and it’s somehow both worse and cornier than most of those predictable productions. It’s so deeply forgettable that I had to Google search the events a few days later.

I found everything about Yes Day too familiar and too cold, too mismanaged and clunky. And it’s written with none of the personality or believable vibrancy of Amy Krouse Rosenthal’s best seller (Director Miguel Arteta handled the similar Alexander and the Terrible, Horrible, No Good, Very Bad Day so much better, and with a more mature tone to boot). Not only was this film less than the sum of its parts, it too often felt like some its parts were completely depleted and trying to scrape by while running on empty, or missing altogether. There’s a reason I wrote in my notes, “this is a BAD movie.” If Yes Day were an American Idol contestant, it’d be more William Hung than Kelly Clarkson. My reaction might be mean, dated, a bit ostentatious. But it’s an absolutely honest hell no for me, dawg.

“It’s all a big con.”

Rating: 0.5 out of 5

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