Friday, December 19, 2008

Yes Man movie vs. Yes Man book

Again, guys, read the book, which is one of my all-time favorites. In refreshing my memory about it tonight, I laughed more in about 40 pages than I did in the entire Jim Carrey vehicle tonight.

Spoilers follow (for both book and movie).

What I like best about the book is the utter unpredictability of surrendering one's life to Yes. Sure, it does have some of the positive consequences given in the book, particularly around the main characters' careers and (to an extent) love lives.

But Danny's non-fiction account of his Yes experiment is so much more interesting than the film. It didn't have to be that way, but it was.

I understand that the filmmakers didn't have time to follow every bizarre tangent that Danny necessarily followed as he pursued yes. The bizarreness of answering a Nigerian scam email and following it to solve the mystery behind it, the strangeness of joining a number of fringe social groups, the surprise of purchasing a plane ticket from Australia to England for a girl he likes but doesn't know that the book, I spent much of my time saying "Shit, I can't fucking believe the dude actually did this!"

In the movie--and here's where the film goes wrong--in the movie, nothing bad happens to the main character as a result of his yeses. Only good things EVER happen. The worst he has to endure is sitting through an unwanted Harry Potter movie. Oh, and to fire some people. The whole terrorism accusation thing is a strange and unneeded movie twist. But the film doesn't go into any of the difficulties or Yes.

To put it another way, there's no conflict in a movie which consists of Jim Carrey only saying yes to a series of fun suggestions.

They took Wallace's complex, interesting, and nuanced look at what it means to have control and cede control of one's life and managed to reduce it to something formulaic. It's not surprising that a Hollywood flick would do this, of course, but it is still annoying.

I don't blame Danny Wallace for this, by the way. I hope he makes loads of money off of the film. The book was so good that I want him to be rewarded any way possible for it. (Rereading parts of it tonight solidified that for me.)

I'll say it again: read the book, read the book, read the book.

You can even see the movie first if you want, because the book and movie are not even remotely related to each other. (The credit line "Based on a book by Danny Wallace" stretches the definition of "based on" nearly to its limits. In my lifetime of seeing movies and books, only Fever Pitch is less recognizable in movie form.)

By the way, I was probably the only guy in the Pacific Northwest who played the "Spot Danny Wallace's cameo" game. And won, by the way. Not even Swankette would have seen him without my help.

But I'm not kidding. This is one of my most enjoyable reading experiences of the last decade. Get it. Seriously. Ignore Jim Carrey. Just get the book.


swankette said...

If TRP's missive didn't convince you, here's the nail in the coffin. The book is a retelling of something that actually happened to Danny Wallace (the guy's a bit of a loon, so actually does stuff like this and manages to earn a living off of it). At the end of the credits to the movie they have included the standard disclaimer language "Any resemblance to actual people, places or things is entirely coincidental and this is purely a work of fiction."

Anonymous said...

i totally agree with you. the book is one of the funniest pieces of literature I've ever read. it was the best 14 bucks i've spent in my life :) i love danny wallace, and actually joined his "karma army!" :) read the book... it is friggin hilarious... and stay away from the movie... it's too bad though... i wish hollywood would've recognized the potential earnings of the movie if they'd only actually based it on the book. oh well... :) -- wickedearth

Alison said...

Of course, the disclaimer language gets put in there on *every* film. Even a biography. Unless it's an actual documentary, that must be there, or they risk getting sued for mooshing two people into a single character or sometihng.

Moderator said...

Hello everybody,
Im wondering,
Where can i get the book because im from malaysia,I'll try search it at ebay but cant find any,why?

Jaguar XKE

Trevor said...

Hey would anyone happen to known whether ANY part of the movie is the same as the book? and which scenes were they?

TeacherRefPoet said...


Other than the basic premise (guy has to say yes to everything), I seriously recall NOTHING that the two pieces share.

Anonymous said...

I Looooooooooooooooooooooooooooooove the book wow Danny you really out did your self :)