Family films that feature kids “makin’ all the rules” isn’t exactly fresh or inventive. So, why did I like Yes Day so darn much when I know that it follows this same template? Did this sub-genre improve? Have I gotten softer? While these reflections are valid, it sounds like I have to blame either the movies that came before this one or myself to justify liking Yes Day. Embracing Yes Day shouldn’t be driven by selfishness, especially a movie as upbeat as this. The movie simply works because the production finds its own fun, wholesome groove to generate warm emotions and lots of laughs.
For starters, the film is perfectly cast. Jennifer Garner, who co-produced the film and is having the most fun we’ve seen from her since 13 Going on 30, plays Allison, a dedicated mother to three rambunctious children (Jenna Ortega, Julian Lerner, Everly Carganilla) and a considerate partner to her equally loyal husband Carlos (Édgar Ramírez). At one time she was open-minded and seizing the day but now, after having to wrangle her kids and stick to a schedule, she’s slipped into a parental mode that is very black-and-white. While the film doesn’t dismiss the importance of discipline, Yes Day serves as a friendly reminder for all audiences about the importance of staying true to your personality, as well as a casual wake-up call for us not to slip into the role of a referee on autopilot.
Aware of how regimented the daily routine has become, the family decides to have a “Yes Day”, a 24-hour period that acts as an open invitation for exciting opportunities. Once perimeters are established by Allison and Carlos (which movie goers don’t mind because it stabilizes this premise in reality), the kids go wild with requests that the whole family must fulfil. Along for the ride are side characters played by Fortune Feimster, Arturo Castro, Nat Faxon, and Oscar nominated musical artist H.E.R.
Last year, Netflix acquired Paramount Pictures’ romantic comedy The Lovebirds as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic sidelining movie theatres. While watching Yes Day, I wondered if Yes Day was originally a shelved Nickelodeon property because it had that same “Snow Day energy”. But instead of becoming an unwieldy experieince in the style of Yours, Mine & Ours that simply indulges in loud recklessness for young viewers,Yes Day finds a way to be outrageous while also applying heart and sweetness. At times, sure, it’s corny. But, there’s a sincere purity to Yes Day that rises above a schmalzy label and earns itself the reputation of a fantastic flick for families.
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Addison Wylie: @AddisonWylie