Miguel Arteta directs Yes Day, a family comedy starring Jennifer Garner and Édgar Ramirez as a mother and father who always say no to their children. One day, they decide to have a Yes Day, where no matter what the kids ask them to do, they will always say yes.
The film can feel like a family-friendly version of the 2008 Jim Carrey comedy, Yes Man, with the premises being nearly identical but with the element of a family thrown in. This is the cinematic equivalent of a cup of chocolate pudding — a somewhat tasty treat that’s easily digestible even if it’s not as good as ice cream.
Ice cream represents top-tier children’s entertainment, such as The Wizard of Oz and the recent Pixar film, Soul. It’s way better than pudding, but pudding is good enough on its own. And that’s this movie — a very watchable, enjoyable piece of family entertainment.
Like with most family films, the movie does a serviceable job setting up the characters. Allison and Carlos, the two parents, began their relationship with “yes” as their theme, but they needed to begin saying no a lot when they had their children.
The two have lost their way, and their relationship with their children is strained as a result. It’s an interesting conflict, with the oldest daughter, Katie (Jenna Ortega), growing older and wanting her independence, as Allison has difficulty accepting this.
Much of the struggles ring true to real-life situations, and it’s fascinating to see where these characters go. The film’s narrative is not as predictable as it may initially seem, as not every setup pays off in precisely the way we would expect.
The film benefits from its lighthearted tone. It’s very entertaining to see a family have fun together, whether it’s going through a car wash with the windows down or getting in the craziest water balloon fight in the world.
Jennifer Garner is charming as usual in her role as a mother, trying her best to make her children like her and keep them safe. She gives the best performance in the film and is effortlessly likable as this somewhat embarrassing mother.
Everyone else in the movie gives charismatic performances with both comedy and moments of drama. It’s wonderful to watch these actors, and their chemistry makes them really feel like a family.
Where the film doesn’t always work is the comedy; while the film is sure to put smiles on our faces during the many scenes when the family is having a great time and enjoying themselves, the humor isn’t anything particularly special or funny for a family film outside of a few good moments.
There is one scene where Allison is attempting to win a stuffed gorilla at a park, and this scene stands out as the moment that goes for the broadest, most over-the-top comedy of the entire film. It doesn’t entirely work, but it’s an enjoyable scene.
And the finale is a bit of a weak point in the movie. While it resolves things in the perfect way that family movies always do, moments can strain credibility. Furthermore, the movie seems to entirely forget about the “yes day” premise by the time the final act rolls around, instead focusing on by-the-numbers hijinks.
The movie's ending has a fun idea, but it’s a familiar one for those who have seen other films in this genre. The characters in this movie can also feel very reminiscent of the family in Instant Family, with the parents, the rebellious teenage girl, the accident-prone young boy, and the mischievous youngest girl.
Overall, the movie delivers on its premise. It offers everything you would expect from a lighthearted family film. While it may not be as fresh or funny as other movies of the genre, it provides harmless fun throughout its blissfully short runtime.
Grade: ★★★☆☆ [6/10, C+]
Yes Day releases globally on Netflix on March 12, 2021.
Rating: PG for some rude and suggestive material, and brief language