Review: ‘Yes Day’ has some flair, but it could also be seen as an ad for child-free living

Edgar Ramírez, left, Everly Carganilla, Jennifer Garner, Jenna Ortega and Julia Lerner in "Yes Day."
Edgar Ramírez, from left, Everly Carganilla, Jennifer Garner, Jenna Ortega and Julia Lerner in the movie “Yes Day.”
(Matt Kennedy / Netflix)

Miguel Arteta broke out with dark indies like “Chuck & Buck” and “The Good Girl,” but the last decade has found the filmmaker largely making bland studio fare like “Alexander and the Terrible, Horrible, No Good, Very Bad Day” and “Like a Boss.” Similarly, his heroine in “Yes Day” fondly remembers the days when she was up for anything, but now, motherhood has given her plenty of synonyms for “no.”

Jennifer Garner’s formerly fun character is tired of playing bad cop, while her husband (Edgar Ramírez) gets to be lenient with their three kids (Jenna Ortega, Julian Lerner and Everly Carganilla). When they hear of a “Yes Day” — 24 hours where the parents must say “yes” to every kid’s request — Mom and Dad are in, much to the delight of their three little agents of chaos, starting with ice cream for breakfast and ending with predictable anarchy.

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.

Like its juvenile characters, “Yes Day” sometimes goes too far, with over-the-top scenes that lessen the impact of the genuine emotions elsewhere. But will kids whine about it (other than for their own Yes Day)? Probably not, and parents likely won’t mind either. There’s not too much of a draw for the child-free — other than a sense of relief — but the message of the importance of saying “yes” and “no” will likely resonate with its target audience, especially when presented in generally amiable packaging.


‘Yes Day’

Rated: PG, for some rude and suggestive material, and brief language

Running time: 1 hour, 29 minutes

Playing: Available March 12 on Netflix