Yes Man, directed by Peyton Reed, measures the loss of elasticity in rubber man Jim Carrey, now showing the effects of age and experience on his creased, rumpled, baggy face. (The Number 23 can’t be easy to bounce back from. Ever.) He nevertheless strives to recover his antic former self in the role of a gray-souled, nay-saying loan officer who attends a self-empowerment seminar that compels him to answer every question in the affirmative. Hollywood tastemakers take it from there. A business loan for a baker of unrecognizable celebrity-lookalike cakes? Yes! A blow job from the white-haired toothless old lady next door? Yes! Zooey Deschanel, forging a career from looking like she can’t figure out how to play her part, has ample reason to look like that in the part of a rock singer, painter, photographer, and all-around free spirit who, nearly young enough to be his daughter and apparently friendless, is supposed to fall in love with him. For the moviegoer, the response should be obvious. Just say no.
Seven Pounds gives us the de rigueur December Will Smith, who tends to be more sensitive, tormented, teary, and Oscar-hungry than the July Will Smith. Here he takes his crinkled brow in tight closeups on a cryptic personal mission (“We have a plan. Do what you promised me”), flashing an IRS identity card to gain access to total strangers so as to judge whether or not they are “good,” “worthy,” “deserving.” (The nursing-home administrator may require a bone-marrow transplant for survival, but in spite of his deep debt to Uncle Sam he has splurged on a Beemer: not good.) The aim and outcome of his mission are, for review purposes, Top Secret, but suffice to say that the film combines the bleeding heart of The Pursuit of Happyness — not to mention the director of it, Gabriele Muccino — with the galloping ego of I Am Legend.
Trend to watch: English-speaking actors lapsing into English-subtitled foreign tongues. Will Smith, Spanish, in Seven Pounds. Jim Carrey, Korean, in Yes Man. Keanu Reeves, Chinese, in The Day the Earth Stood Still. And upcoming, Tom Cruise, German, in Valkyrie and Daniel Craig, Russian, in Defiance.