Jim Carrey's Yes Man struck me as an awful waste of a terrific premise.

Far from the retread of the Liar Liar gimmick that some people claim, Yes Man's central conceit really resonates, and gets at a simple but profound truth: saying "no" to opportunities is safer and easier, but saying "yes" is more rewarding and fun. Literally having the main character start saying "yes" to everything is not my preferred way of tackling this issue, but it could easily work as a goofy, absurdist approach. Jim Carrey's track record may be bruised, but the actor is still a national treasure. And Peyton Reed's filmography contains some films that managed to be thoughtful despite their staunchly populist aims.

What an unpleasant surprise, then, to see a film so terminally mired in the worst Hollywood comedy conventions. It's hard to be meaningful or even sincere when everything is hideously distorted to fit the confines of hoary old formulas, complete with scenes that don't fit, but which a movie like this simply must contain. Yes Man winds up shrill, manic and unpleasant (albeit sporadically funny) when it should have been breezy, earnest and simple.