In tonight’s movie, Carl Allen is a man who has retreated from engaging with life.  He is stagnating, and I’m not sure he has any particular problem with that. 


But after a reversal at work, he gets a little push and ends up at a sort of personal growth seminar.  There, he succumbs to pressure to make “a covenant”; he commits that he will say “Yes” to every opportunity or request that comes his way.


I wonder if anybody here has ever been in a seminar, a workshop, maybe even a sermon, in which you felt pressured in that way, to commit firmly to some sort of principle of growth and engagement with life.   Maybe some of us have even accepted a similar challenge.


By the way, the story is not just a figment of a screenwriter’s imaginataion.  It’s based on a  man named Danny Wallace who challenged himself to say Yes to the opportunities in his life, and then wrote a book about the 6 months that followed.  I think it might be a stretch to call this movie “nonfiction”, but it is based in somebody’s reality.


Jim Carrey was nominated for MTV Movie Award Best Comedic Performance.  He has starred in some previous Unity Spiritual Movies presentations…such as  Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind and The Truman Show , as well as others such as Bruce Almighty,  The Majestic and Simon Birch.


 Zooey Deschanel, who plays his love interest, Alison, has been in   Bridge to Terabithia, The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy and Elf.


Terence Stamp, the self help guru, has been making movies for 47 years. 


Fans of The Flight of the Conchords might recognize their fictional manager in Rhys Darby, who plays Norm. 


Fans of the Christopher Guest “Mockukmentaries” may recognize John Michael Higgins, who has played in numerous TV and movie roles.

In considering the positive psychology virtues. It’s easy to focus on Wisdom and Knowledge, specifically creativity, curiosity, open-mindedness and love of learning.  Carl is so lacking in these qualities as the movie opens.  See how it effects his life when he embraces them. 


I also invite you to notice your own reactions as Carl begins to say Yes.  Do you have judgements about what he is doing?


I think the movie gets even more interesting in considering the virtue of Courage, with attributes of bravery, persistence, integrity, vitality.  Think about:  is it an act of bravery, of integrity, to just follow a blind commitment?


How does his covenant effect the virtue of Humanity, attributes such as  love, kindness, social intelligence?


Finally, see how Carl develops his sense of Transcendence: i.e., appreciation of beauty and excellence, gratitude, hope, humor, spirituality.


I found it interesting during this movie to think about how we might always say yes to God, to spirit, and yet we have the free will not to.  You might say that in choosing to say yes to everything, Carl is ego-less.  What happens to Carl as his experience develops.  There is a statement by the character Terrence near the end that I really gets to the heart of this question.


I invite you to also take special look at the character of Norm.  He’s a nerdy guy who is easy to dismiss as a silly nerd.  Guys like Norm often get ridiculed, but how does he embody some of the same virtues of vitality, kindness, appreciation of beauty, etc.




SPIRITUAL CORE:  At the bridal shower store… there’s a shift.. he doesn’t just respond to others, he begins to initiate, to be a source of positivity, using the resources he has developed.


Terence  ….yes to everything at first, to get used to it… then… not because you have to,   But because you know in your heart that you want to




Carl intimidated into doing what he wants, but is afraid, to do.


How many have been in a personal growth group like this?


“You have to say yes to everything?”


Compare to Norman..  a bit of a nerd, but enthusiastic about life.. Think about how nerds are sometimes criticized for simply being enthusiastic about things.


Alison.. “the world’s a playground… I know our music isn’t that mainstream”


At Hollywood Bowl, security guy and Alison giving conflicting instructions.. he tries to respond to both, but “You can’t please everyone.”


Trip to Lincoln, NB      Transcendence…        appreciation of beauty … where ever you are


Free will.. “you had to say yes…” How do I know if anything you did is because you want to or because you were following some goddam program?!”


Carl, at the end from the truck “I know a lot of people who are willing to give”[looks straight at us.]


·  Jim Carrey performed his own bungee jump stunts.

·  Jim Carrey declined an upfront salary for this film. Instead he will be paid 36.2% of the film's profits.

·  Jack Black was originally considered for the lead role.

·  The day before Zooey Deschanel had to get on the scooter for the first time, her stunt double fell off and shattered her hip. Zooey was told that it would take the stunt woman about nine months to recover, so she was asked to get on the bike for the shot herself.

he wins public acclaim by playing Third Eye Blind's song "Jumper" to persuade a man (Luis Guzman) not to commit suicide by jumping off a ledge.

·  Cameo: [Danny Wallace] The writer of the book upon which the film is based can be seen sitting at the bar during the wedding shower.

·  Even though one of the movie's main posters has Jim Carrey running through a field of flowers gracefully, he does not run through a field of flowers once throughout the film.

·  When Jim Carrey is in Blockbuster the second time around, he picks up The Cable Guy (1996), a movie he stars in, to rent.

·  There are multiple references to Harry Potter in the film. David Heyman, one of the film's producers, also produces the Harry Potter films.

·  While Carl is in the video store you can see another Jim Carrey movie, The Number 23 (2007), playing out of focus in the background.

·  Stars Jim Carrey and Zooey Deschanel share the same birthday, January 17. However, Carrey was born in 1962 and Deschanel in 1980 making him exactly eighteen years older than her.

·  In Norm's office, we see posters for Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets (2002) and The Goonies (1985). Both movies featured Chris Columbus directing or writing. Footage from the first two Harry Potter films is also shown during the party scene.

·  Terence Stamp plays the leader of the Yes Program. He plays a similar character in Bowfinger (1999) as leader of the mind-head cult.

·  Jim Carrey was seduced by the project as he felt it would enable him to act in some truly funny scenes which would also make the audience think about themselves and wonder if they should perhaps say "yes" more often.

·  Director Peyton Reed spent a lot of time with Jim Carrey to find the right tone for the film, one which would be in between Carrey's manic comedies and his more serious-minded films, as well as to complete the subject's Americanization, as the source book comes from a British author.

·  Just like his character, Jim Carrey said "yes" to many things during the production of this movie. He indeed truly played the guitar, learned basic Korean, rode a sport bike and bungee-jumped. He however had to say "no" for the body blading scene.

·  The fictional band Munchausen By Proxy featured in the film is named after the Münchausen syndrome by proxy, which is a psychological disorder, and is composed of actress/singer/songwriter Zooey Deschanel and the real-life band Von Iva, which got the part after music supervisor Jonathan Karp saw the cover of their CD in Amoeba, in Hollywood. On Lakeshore Records' soundtrack release they are credited as "Munchausen by Proxy (f/ Zooey Deschanel & Von Iva)".

·  Composer Mark Everett is the lead singer of the rock band The Eels, which explains the large number of songs by the band featured in the film.

·  While filming the scene in the bar where Carl runs into a waitress and falls on his back, Jim Carrey did the stunt incorrectly, fell to the floor harder than he expected, and broke three ribs in the process.

·  Jim Carrey's bungee jump stunt was the final scene filmed, but not before it caused much problems for the insurance company and the producers due to his insistence of performing the stunt himself. The insurance company was not willing to underwrite a premium for a lead actor over a stunt double. Finally an agreement was reached between both parties with the producers assuring two things to the company: the stunt to be performed after filming technically ended; the scene could only be filmed once. Four cameras were used to film the stunt and Carrey performed it uninjured.

·  In the Spanish dubbed version of the movie, Carl refers to the first cake that the celebrity cake lady shows him as looking like Ricky Martin instead of Mickey Rourke.

·  Cameo: [John Mayer] The Grammy Award winner is seen for a few seconds as the guitar instructor in Carl's apartment.

·  After Carl's (Jim Carrey) big bender and fight at the club, there is an overhead pan of Carl lying on a bathroom floor. The clothes he is wearing, the positioning of his legs, arms and head and the scratching guitar music score is a homage to David Bowie's "Lodger" album and its cover photo.

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