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Review: Netflix family comedy 'Yes Day' has fun with silly premise

Courtesy of Netflix


Jennifer Garner and Edgar Ramirez (and screenwriter Justin Malen) get mileage out of a goofy premise in the Netflix family comedy “Yes Day” where kids rule the world…sort of. Yes day is essentially a hall pass for kids or a 24-hour period when parents can’t say “no” to their requests with some minor ground rules like asking for something in the future or committing arson. If nobody partakes in illegal activity, the boundaries of a “yes day” are limitless. That’s the foundation for director Miguel Areta’s harmless and sweet-natured comedy that delivers slapstick humor in droves without making adults head for the exit.

Areta (“Beatriz at Dinner”) brings a spastic energy to what could have otherwise been a standard family comedy, or worse: “The War with Grandpa.” It falls into a vest pool of family comedy trapping and there’s no shortage of chaos inspired by “Cheaper By The Dozen” or “Yours, Mine and Ours,” but “Yes Day” has an edge and despite unfurling at a relentless pace meant to keep those youngsters attention spans in check, there’s plenty of fun worth having.

Allison and Carlos (Garner and Ramirez) – who used to live carefree lives and spontaneously skydive because they felt like it – have struggled with finding a balance of saying no and yes. As Allison so delicately puts it: “no has become the new yes.” Their children - an adorable little girl (Everly Carganilla), a pubescent boy (Julian Lener) and an angsty teenager (Jenny Ortega – from “You”) – have become susceptible to being told no, and lash out in school, turning in projects labeling their parents, specifically Garner’s uptight Allison, as dictators. A quick brainstorm session in the school’s cafeteria – with tater tots! – teaches Allison and Carlos about the “yes day” fundamentals and they use it as a motivational tool for their kid’s behavior.

From there, you can pinpoint the type of fuzzy messaging that’ll await the family’s eventual endgame, but first a trip to magic mountain, driving through a carwash with the windows down, and an elaborately staged water balloon fight shot like a sequence from “Apocalypse Now.” It’s unspooled in rapid succession as to not give any of the characters a chance to breathe, because in this technology fueled landscape where films compete with iPads, YouTubers playing “Five Nights at Freddy’s,” and “Minecraft,” things can’t lag. Thankfully, “Yes Day” has enough bodily humor and physical gags that should pull them away long enough to ask parents for their own yes day. On second thought, maybe parents won’t care if the kiddos skip this one.

Grade: B

YES DAY debuts on Netflix Friday, March 12th


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