When life demands that you constantly say ‘no’, what can happen when you let yourself finally say ‘yes’ again?
In Netflix’ Yes Day, Allison (Jennifer Garner) and Carlos (Edgar Ramirez) are a couple that used to live their lives saying ‘yes’ to adventure. However, as youthful energy gives way to children and responsibility, the couple find themselves increasingly on the ‘no’ side of life. Now, with their kids growing up and pressures mounting, their world feels like an endless road of planning, restrictions and discipline for their family. When they are encouraged to give their kids a ‘Yes Day’ that would give their children the opportunity to make the rules for 24 hours, they reluctantly agree. However, as the day goes on, Allison and Carlos find it more and more difficult to keep saying ‘yes’ to their children’s crazy plans.
Directed by Miguel Arteta is a charming (but ultimately forgettable) family film that knows what it wants to be and leans into the concept with enthusiasm. Playing out like a strange mix between the work Jim Carrey and 90’s John Hughes films, Yes Day is a (mostly) upbeat, cheery ball of fun that simply leans into the silliness of the concept and lets loose. While there’s not much particularly ‘new’ in the film, Yes Day has enough warmth and silliness to keep families entertained.
While the film has some fun cameos and side characters, there’s little doubt that the spark to the film is Garner who seems like she’s having a blast as the tightly-wound Allison. Even in lesser material, Garner has always shown her ability to invest a certain likeability into her characters. As Allison, she really lets herself has fun and it benefits the film as a result. With each progressively outrageous activity, Garner feels present (and even enthusiastic) in the moment, giving Yes Daythe jolt of energy that it needs to keep moving.
At its heart, Yes Day is a call for balance. As the children learn that consequences come from a life led only by ‘yes’, their parents understand the ramifications of a world of ‘no’. For example, though Allison once lived a life of ‘yes’, she now takes her responsibilities as a parent so seriously that she keeps her children on a short leash. Modeling an attitude of ‘no’, she has become a helicopter parent who obsesses about her children and their well-being. When she and Carlos are introduced to the concept by the kids’ guidance counsellor, they are apprehensive at first but opt to take the challenge in order to prove that they too can be ‘fun’. However, as she leans into the ‘Yes Day’ experience, she revives a part of her soul that she has kept in check. For her, this experience becomes a day to reconnect with her playful side and, as a result, her children as well.
At the same time, the children also come to understand the need for boundaries (and even discipline). At first, their children are thrilled at the chance to be ‘in charge’. Always feeling under their parents’ thumb, the ‘Yes Day’ gives them a chance to finally do the things that they have always wanted to do. Even so, as their day of fun devolves into an overwhelming madness, they soon discover the fact that the discipline of their parents stems from a place of love and necessity. Though they’ve viewed their mom and dad as the villains, they come to understand how responsibility requires the ability to say ‘no’ every now and then in order to keep everyone safe.
Bright, bubbly (pun intended) and heartwarming, Yes Day benefits from an animated performance by Garner. Though the film admittedly works better on Netflix than it would in a theatre, Yes Day is surprisingly silly and fun enough to say ‘yes’ to on your next family movie night (especially for younger viewers).
Yes Day is available on Netflix on Friday, March 12th, 2021.