I’ll be the first to admit that I didn’t put much effort into my film choice for this week but things haven’t gone as I expected this weekend. Being incredibly exhausted and pretty busy was a terrible combination. So, when it came time to watch something, I was mostly looking for something quick and tat didn’t require any real effort. At one point, I’d considered watching the Snyder cut of Justice League but I wasn’t capable of concentrating on something for over 4 hours. Especially something that I didn’t enjoy enough the first time to really want to watch again. Instead of Snyder, I turned to Netflix and found the least appealing film that I could find. The fact that it ran to just under 90 minutes was just a happy bonus.
I’d been aware of the concept of a “yes day” before this film came out thanks to a random video that YouTube recommended to me. In it, an influencer Dad proudly proclaimed that he was going to allow his young son to take control of the day. It ended up being quite a tame affair. The kid was way too well-behaved and it was just more opportunity for the Dad to brag about his stellar parenting skills. I’m not sure that I necessarily agree with the psychology behind it but I guess it might work for some people. Did it need turning into a film? No. Just look what happened to Danny Wallace’s Yes Man when it was adapted into a movie starring Jim Carey.
There was a lot of potential for this film to go a bit mad but it just fails to take advantage of that. This is like The Purge but kid friendly. The film doesn’t really let loose and is more concerned with pushing its overly sentimental and really obvious message. This is a family film that really goes all out to push the idea of family unity to such an extent that it just becomes forgettable. It’s fine that a film like this is predictable. It’s not meant to be breaking down the conventions or anything. The problem is that there isn’t enough going on to hide the fact that it’s really predictable.
Instead it’s just a lot of noise and mayhem. It’s not particularly funny and it doesn’t even get close to how far it could have pushed the concept. It doesn’t really help that this film is based on tired gender stereotypes. There’s the overprotective and super strict mum who is viewed as a dictator by her children. Then there’s the fun-loving dad who never says no. It’s something that we’ve seen in films for far too long. Yes Day tries to show how unfair this is but it spends too long delighting in how awful everyone thinks Jennifer Garner’s Allison can be.
It is Allison who becomes invested in the yes day because it gives her a chance to be the fun one for a change. Which is why she pushes the stakes even further when she makes a bet with her eldest daughter. 14-year-old Katie wants to go to a music festival on her own but Allison thinks she’s too young. So, if Allison makes it through the day without saying no, Katie goes to the festival with her mother. If Allison caves, Katie goes with her friends. Of course, as soon as the pair agree to these terms, you know where it’s going. Anyone who is shocked by the ending is far too trusting or hasn’t seen any other films.
I guess Yes Day isn’t the worst film ever made but it just feels like a let down. It didn’t need to end up like Lord of the Flies but the end result is just too tame. Something that isn’t helped by the fact that you see pretty much all of the yes day treats in the trailer. There’s just a lack of imagination and creativity here. It’s a film that doesn’t seem to understand kids or parents. You don’t get enough time to care about these characters or have any kind of interest in the conclusion of their story. It’s a film that was made to carry out a simple function and, to be fair, it does that. This is something that most younger viewers will find some joy in. Everyone else? I’m going to have go with no.