We haven’t seen Jennifer Garner in a feature film in a hot minute, but her new Netflix comedy is almost here. Adapted from the book of the same name, Yes Day stars Garner, (who also produces) alongside Édgar Ramírez, and Jenna Ortega. Garner and Ramírez play parents who usually say no to their kids ,but decide to say yes to all of their kids’ requests (with a few reasonable exceptions) for one day, called Yes Day.
The movie releases on Netflix this Friday, March 12, and critics have already started posting their thoughts.
Owen Gleiberman of Variety calls Yes Day “a comedy you may want to say no to.” He criticizes Jennifer Garner’s role, not because she isn’t a good actress, but because he argues it’s hard to believe Garner as a mother who has lost her sense of yes; he states that she has never lost her “sparkle.” Among other criticisms, Gleiberman notes:
Is Yes Day a comedy about how kids, hooked on yes, need to learn the value of no? Of course it is. The trouble with the movie is that it doesn’t squeeze enough laughs (or, indeed, any) out of showing you how they get there.
John DeFore of The Hollywood Reporter also heavily criticized the film, claiming it lacks dramatic energy that sparks any kind of fun. He also pointed out that the film is more “sour” than it means to be in the depiction of Garner and Ramírez as the parents. Overall, DeFore said:
By the end, of course, screenwriter Justin Malen contrives action that washes all this away, showing the kids how much they appreciate the limits their parents put on them. It's parental wish-fulfillment that isn't at all interested in what being a kid actually feels like. Don't expect this pic to start a nationwide trend of Yes Days any more than 2011's Hall Pass inspired a legion of wives to give their man-child husbands holidays from their wedding vows.
David Ehrlich of IndieWire had a bit kinder things to say about Yes Day. Though he does note that the movie loses its momentum as the film progresses, with jokes and character development becoming too forced, he does consider it fun. He commends director Miguel Arteta for his sharp comedic mayhem in every scene and also compliments the comedic chops of Garner and Ramírez. Ehrlich continued, saying:
The easiest way to tell if a movie like this is working is if it looks like it was a good time to make, and Yes Day seems like it was a blast for everybody involved.
Of course, Yes Day has been getting a ton of attention ahead of its release thanks to its leading actress Jennifer Garner. The Guardian's Benjamin Lee addressed the performances in the movie, including the Juno actress. As he put it,
Garner gives an earnest but edgeless performance while Ramirez seems a little lost so it’s up to an energetic Ortega to add some life, drawing us in while everything around her is pushing us out. If you need a charming film headed up by a skilled comic actor about a family going through troubling times then watch Rose Byrne in Instant Family instead because it’s a big no for this one.
It's not all bad news, as there's been some praised thrown at Yes Day from critics as well. Los Angeles Times' Kimber Myers praised the film's quality and style, especially when compared to other family movies. As they put it,
While most family comedies are visually flat, Arteta puts his stamp on Yes Day, creating a film with more style than most of its genre brethren. There’s real flair here, with unique shots and editing that demonstrate his talent, though it lacks the distinctive perspective that make his earlier work so interesting.
Now the question is: will audiences criticize Yes Day as much as critics are? Or will it be a welcome escape in these troubling times? Only time will tell. While we wait for the film to drop on Netflix on March 12th, you can check out everything else coming to Netflix this month.