“Yes Day” stars Jennifer Garner, Édgar Ramírez, Jenna Ortega, Julian Lerner, and Everly Carganilla. Released on Netflix on March 12, 2021, the film has two parents creating a special day where their own kids make the rules.
The film was directed by Miguel Arteta, who also directed films such as “The Good Girl”, “Youth in Revolt”, “Cedar Rapids”, and “Like a Boss”. It is an adaptation of the children’s novel of the same name by Amy Krause Rosenthal and Tom Lichtenheld. It’s times like this when we all grow tired of people always saying “no” in front of our faces. The perfect counter-argument for this is that they want to protect us from the consequences that soon to follow. However, it doesn’t usually work out well when they’re abusing the heck out of it. We could all use a day where people could not say no to anything, no matter how dangerous or crazy they are. Enter the latest original film from Netflix, which showcases this special day that could bring us closer together or break the bank. Whichever comes first. Since there weren’t any major films for me to look at this week, at least not until “Zack Snyder’s Justice League” on Thursday, I couldn’t let this film go to waste. The people involved in the film, director Miguel Arteta and actress Jennifer Garner, and its concept are enough to capture my interest. But are they also enough to deliver a watchable comedy for families? Let’s find out.
The story follows Allison (Garner) and Carlos Torres (Ramírez), a couple who were once courageous to try out everything. Once they have their three kids, however, they wind up being compelled to be overprotective just like any other parent on the planet. One day, Allison and Carlos discover an idea that might help solve all of their problems, and that idea is a unique day known as “Yes Day”. A day where for 24 hours, they have to say “yes” to everything, no matter what. With a few ground rules, of course. While spending this crazy day with their kids Katie (Ortega), Nando (Lerner), and Ellie (Carganilla), Allison and Carlos came to realize that it might be what they need to bring the family closer together. To sum this up briefly, it’s another harmless film made for general audiences, mostly families. It’s not made to be another awards contender like “Mank” or even “Judas and the Black Messiah”. It’s there to entertain those who needed a break from the harshness of reality, and that’s generally it. I honestly don’t mind watching these types of films, especially the ones that seemed to be critic-proof, as long as they have a suitable mixture of heart and humor in their storytelling. Those are the key elements that sometimes help them become big hits for their target audience, which are families. “Yes Day” did have enough charm to keep me entertained in terms of its messages and the cast. However, the film’s concept wasn’t fulfilling enough to make this day as fun and special as it should’ve been. For a concept that’s as insane as a day full of “yeses”, the film surprisingly felt limited when it comes to Arteta’s direction and Justin Malen’s script. The characters only did five main activities throughout the day, ranging from eating an ice cream mountain to going to a theme park. While there were a few moments during those activities that actually put a smile on my face, there’s absolutely nothing that I would consider memorable and highly entertaining, humor-wise. Not even Nat Faxon as Mr. Deacon was able to deliver some huge laughs for me. I understand that it didn’t want to be so over-the-top that it becomes unwatchable, but in some cases, making a film ridiculous is better than not making it over-the-top at all. That’s how I feel about this situation. In other words, its execution lacked the insanity needed to get me in a mood to rewatch it soon. Although, it’s far from a complete disaster. Sure, the script had plenty of corny and simplistic elements that you would see in a sitcom episode. Still, as I mentioned before, it had enough charisma in its appeal to provide some harmless entertainment. Much of the charisma came from the cast themselves, most notably Jennifer Garner, who previously worked with Miguel Arteta on 2014’s “Alexander and the Terrible, Horrible, No Good, Very Bad Day”. Man, that title is a mouthful. If you enjoy Garner in her other roles, then there’s a good chance you’ll enjoy her performance as Allison as well. Personally, I thought she did well in this film, but it’s nowhere near as superb as her career-best performance in “Love, Simon”. However, I will admit that she has strong confidence starring in films like this, no matter how good or bad they are. Édgar Ramírez was also all right as Carlos, while Jenna Ortega continues to be a respectable young actress thanks to her passable performance as Katie. If the cast isn’t enough to get you to watch it, maybe the appearance of the famous singer H.E.R. might get you to reconsider? Yes, you read that right. H.E.R. is in this film, but only in its third act. For people who like H.E.R., she’s an okay addition to the cast.
Overall, “Yes Day” wasn’t able to make this day special in its own right. However, the amount of heart and charisma put into this flawed yet harmless family film made it hard for me to say “no”. On the one hand, it’s a heartwarming experience that works well as a piece of escapism for kids and their parents. On the other hand, it’s a corny and tame comedy that didn’t quite live up to its ludicrous expectations regarding the direction and script. If harmless movies are your thing, then you might get some enjoyment out of this one.