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Jennifer Garner in Yes Day.

Jennifer Garner in Yes Day.

Photo: Matt Kennedy/Netflix


Yes Day




2/5 Stars


A mom and dad who usually say no decide to say yes to their kids’ wildest requests – with a few ground rules – on a whirlwind day of fun and adventure.


If movies were food, Yes Day would be those healthy
gluten-free crackers from Woolies. It’s probably good for the family but still
tastes like cardboard.

This Netflix family movie is a stale format hailing from the
late 2000’s/early 2010s and falls into that genre of film that parents will
watch with the tweens or teenagers for ‘family time’ – yet everyone will hate
every minute of it.

Based on a book, it revolves around a family with a super
strict mom and kids who feel trapped by their parents’ rules. Instead of
shrinking them or turning them into bears, the children instead hand in
homework, berating their dilemma, and the teachers bring it to the parents’
attention. In an effort to improve their family dynamics, they agree to a ‘yes
day’, where the kids take over, and the parents have to say yes to everything,
within reason.

You might be optimistic in thinking that the kids will come
up with some pretty sweet and hilarious antics that will push the adults to the
brink of their sanity, but instead, the activities are painfully unimaginative,
and not once did the super strict parent – played by forever-mom Jennifer
Garner – ever really show the expected resistance to anything. The dialogue is
so stupidly cheesy I sustained a face sprain from rolling my eyes so much. I
kept hoping Seth Rogan will pop up somewhere to sprinkle his R-rated magic on
this wet dud and save us from the dreadfully unfunny guidance counsellor cameos
in the form of Nat Faxon. There’s one moment that the dad is attacked by crows
where I finally think we might get somewhere comedy-wise, but like all the
rest, it just sunk straight to the bottom.

Yes Day is stuck in that stale family-movie format that
doesn’t age well and is still somehow holding on in the new decade. Clearly,
there must still be a market for this kind of blandness with American audiences,
but I don’t think it offers great appeal to South Africans with more African
and European filmmaking tastes and humour. Compare this to family movies from
the 90s, which in most cases have aged pretty well and still tickles the modern
funny bone, and you’ll quickly recognise the sub-par quality of storytelling.

I admit I am far from Yes Day’s target market as an
unmarried woman with no kids, but you don’t have to have a family to be able to
laugh at a family-focused movie. The premise of a ‘yes day’ opens up so many
fun avenues that could have been explored, but they played it just too safe and
kept it ‘realistic’ instead. This kind of story translates to boring and should
be a hard ‘no’ when trying to decide what movie to watch in the neverending
Netflix stream.


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