‘Yes Day’ Proves to be a Lackluster Family-Comedy

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Photo By Netflix.com

In this generic Netflix comedy, a family of five agree to a day that only consists of “yes”, and the parents must consent to whatever the kids demand. Photo courtesy of Netflix.com

Director Miguel Arteta’s comedy Yes Day would be have been considered a watered-down, dumb concept of a Hollywood family sitcom if it was released two decades ago. And you might argue that it still is. The distinction now is that it’s added to Netflix’s reputable collection, a family-friendly film that can be watched at home during the COVID-19 pandemic. Due to these circumstances, any parent would find the movie’s concept intriguing. 

Jennifer Garner’s character, Alison Torres, who has been chastised by her three children for being a humorless disciplinarian who is always saying “no”, agrees to treat her children to a “yes” day. With this being said, she and her partner, Carlos, played by Edgar Ramirez, must go for an entire day saying yes to any proposition made by their children. The intent is that this will serve as a kind of do-what-you-want splurge for the kids, and a way for them to blow-off steam while illustrating that their parents aren’t the dictators that they’ve come to think of them as. 

But here’s where it becomes a bit unusual and ultimately not very comedic. Jennifer Garner is the last person that you think of when it comes to being cast as a mother who has forgotten her sense of “yes”. By being a celebrity constantly in the spotlight, we have come to interpret her as the type of person to never lose her sarcastic ebullience or dimpled radiance. 

The scene where Allison discovers how disenchanted her children have been of her destructive ways is revealing. Allison and Carlos arrive at school for a parent-teacher conference, and two of their children’s teachers greet them with unfortunate news. The spotlighted couple’s vivacious 14-year-old daughter Katie, played by Jenna Ortega, seems to have composed a piece of writing comparing herself to a caged bird. In addition, their son, Nando, played by Julian Lerner, has made a short film comparing Allison to former dictators Joseph Stalin and Benito Mussolini, complete with candidly taken home-video footage of her dictatorial actions. We hear her say something along the lines of “You’re not going anywhere until you finish your homework!”. 

As Allison watches the videos, she calmly comments “That’s parenting” as she gives herself a symbolic and encouraging pat on the shoulder for good measure. Many people think this was a funny scene, and they shared their thoughts on how Allison is nothing more than a caring mom trying to adhere to the ground rules, set some limits, and instill discipline. Others believed it was a mild case of verbal and emotional abuse endured by the kids. 

In reality, it’s so clear that Allison is a decent mother. The scene concludes that it’s not Allison’s parenting style that is the issue, it’s the culture—an increasingly careless and delusional “sure” that encourages parents to disband, give in to their children’s demands, and not behave as if there are any type of consequences in the world. 

The film sets up an emotionally and culturally appealing situation that plays on the heart-warming ending that family means everything, one that demands to be played out with a certain deadpan observational perceptual flair. In the end it is a frivolously staged sitcom, and Garner and Ramrez play the likeable yet downtrodden couple.

Loosely based on the children’s book Yes Day! written by Amy Krouse Rosenthal and Tom Lictenheld, Arteta worked with scriptwriter, Justin Male, to extract a light-hearted feeling for young kids, without completely revamping the intent of the original book. 

Yes Day is a fictional, idiomatic philosophy that consists of the fragmented ideology of “just say yes” that realistically no parent would agree to but every child would dream of. In all honesty, the movie wasn’t funny enough to be described as a comedy. It’s a reflection of Jennifer Garner’s ability to add playful, good-natured, and easy to comprehend films to her repertoire. It certainly doesn’t mean to reshape American culture or fundamentally change the family comedy genre, but it is a good movie to watch after dinner with the entire family. 

Yes Day doesn’t require much concentration to follow through the plot and it’s full of stereotypical characters who struggle to appreciate the family and love that surrounds them. Even though the film fails to offer vibrant, unexpected, and amusing characters within the Torres Family, it is ultimately a cute concept that ends in ambivalent entertainment. 

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