Netflix Review – Yes Day (2021)

Allison Torres (Jennifer Garner) used to be the fun one.

Whether it was descending through the atmosphere on a daring skydiving adventure or tearing her and her husband, Carlos (Édgar Ramírez), away from their demanding work lives at a moment’s notice for an impromptu rock-climbing excursion, Allison wanted to do anything and everything that might satisfy her craving for pure, unadulterated fun.

The one thing she didn’t do was say no. To anything. But then they had kids. Three of them, to be exact, and it seems like saying no is just about the only thing a parent ever actually does.

 

No, you can’t go to that concert without an adult. No, you can’t stare at your phones all night. And no, you definitely cannot strap fireworks to your back like a jetpack and then light them.

To Allison, saying no to her kids is an essential facet of being an effective parent. To her three children, it’s the primary tactic of oppression used by the dictatorial regime their mother spearheads. This is the delicate tension that has existed in every single parent-child relationship over the course of recorded human history. But Allison doesn’t like that her kids have begun to resent her iron-fisted approach to parenting, and she especially doesn’t like the submissive good guy that her husband so often represents in contrast. She wants her kids to finally get to know the kind of fun, adventurous woman she was before they were born. She wants them to like her again.

So she takes them out for ice cream, right? They go to the mall, catch a movie, go out to dinner at the kids’ favourite restaurant? Something like that?

Well, not exactly. This is a movie, after all, and such activities, while perhaps realistic within the context of a real-life parent trying to get their kids back on their side, would make for a boring – and short – cinematic experience. They needed something a little grander, a little more bombastic. They needed a Yes Day. An entire 24-hour period during which Allison and Carlos cannot say no to any request bestowed upon them by their children. Sounds a little too good to be true, huh? Well, don’t think about it too much, this is Hollywood.

The shenanigans that ensue over the course of the Torres family’s titular Yes Day is very much akin to the type of zany, lighthearted fare you’ll find in other similarly benign family flicks. Miguel Arteta‘s Netflix original, adapted from a picture book by Amy Krouse Rosenthal and Tom Lichtenheld, is a film that knows exactly where its lane is and makes sure to stay in it at all times, never exceeding the posted speed limit, either.

Because this is a movie that follows a predictable blueprint and doesn’t take any significant risks, it’s difficult to note anything particularly objectionable about its contents. Garner and Ramírez both engage pretty convincingly with their parental characters; without strong presences in those specific roles, the movie would have certainly been far less effectual, and the child performers, headlined by Jenna Ortega as their eldest daughter, Katie, are charming as well. The most enjoyable aspect of Yes Day, in fact, is the often comical and occasionally heartfelt familial interactions between the five principle characters. While my laughter never elevated above an amused chuckle and my eyes remained dry as a bone throughout the film’s breezy 86-minute run time, the proceedings were harmless enough that I never found myself truly bored.

While I would say that this is the perfect movie to sit your kids down in front of for an hour and a half, it occurs to me that doing so might give them the conviction to ask for a Yes Day of their own. So, with that in mind, I advise any parents reading this to proceed with caution when watching this movie with your offspring. Be prepared to say no.

★★★


comedy, Family | USA, 2021 | PG | 12th March 2021 | Netflix Original | Dir.Miguel Arteta | Jennifer Garner, Edgar Ramírez, Jenna Ortega, Julian Lerner, Everly Carganilla