RATING |

"Yes Man" stars Jim Carrey as a stick-in-the-mud naysayer whose life changes when he decides to say yes to everything.

The premise must have hit home for Carrey, whose career changed when he started saying "no" to the talking-out-of-his-butt roles that made him a box-office star.

Forays into serious acting ("The Majestic") and attempts to go against type ("The Number 23") fell flat, and even though critics loved him in "Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind," his "Bruce Almighty" fans did not follow him there.

You can't blame him, especially in these troubled times, for harkening back to the profitable days of "Liar Liar," wherein he played a lawyer forced to tell the truth.

A guy forced to say "yes"? Yes! So we end up with Carrey as Carl Allen, whose moping negativity costs him his wife and nearly his best friend (Bradley Cooper). He seeks the help of a positive-thinking guru (Terrence Stamp), who persuades him to start saying yes.

This immediately yields a promotion and a comely girlfriend (Zooey Deschanel), but there are complications - Carl believes he must say yes to everything, including sexual advances of elderly women (Fionnula Flanagan), yielding the second denture-related sex scene in a month (see also: "Soul Brothers").

I mention this as a word of caution to those parents who judge "Yes Man" by its TV commercials, and see what appears to be the kid-pleasing Carrey of old.

Furthermore, Carrey's a bit older than the Carrey of old, and it's possible to be unnerved by the romantic pairing of Carrey and Deschanel. Am I the only one who thinks he looks like her dad?

There is the potential for kooky chemistry - Deschanel with her spacey line readings and perpetually dilated pupils, Carrey with his demented energy - but something doesn't click.

"Yes Man" gets more laughs out of some of the peripheral storylines - Kiwi comic Rhys Darby ("Flight of the Conchords") has some funny scenes as Carl's nerdy bank boss, a guy with a weakness for Harry Potter and "300" dress-up parties. After Darby, wearing only a Leonidas beard, answers the door and says, "This is Sparta," the movie has nowhere to go but downhill. *

Produced by R*chard D. Zanuck, Dav*d Heyman, d*rected by Peyton Reed, wr*tten by N*cholas Stoller, mus*c by Lyle Workman, d*str*buted by Warner Bros.