I have to be honest.
If you don't want to see Jennifer Garner in Yes Day, I don't even want to know you.
Name one other actress you think of when you think of an actress playing a mom in a family-friendly film where said mom is re-learning how to say "Yes!" to her family.
Go ahead. I'm waiting. Name one.
The truth is that Jennifer Garner was born to play Allison Torres, a role she could easily sleepwalk through as an actress who very likely qualifies as America's favorite mom.
The great thing about Garner? She never sleepwalks.
Jennifer Garner has long had a place on my list of ten most desired celebrity reviews precisely because of all the qualities she brings to her role as Allison, whose parental life has downward spiraled into a sea of not so calmly shouted "No!" answers until that one day when she's forced to come face-to-face with the impact it may be having on her kids. Garner has long balanced the occasional edgy role with a seeming embrace of her warm, midwestern persona and the kind of winning presence that makes you believe this Hollywood star is actually the girl next door.
I've long enjoyed interviews that turn into actual conversations, an openness that frequently leads to lengthy interviews and genuinely fun feature articles. On the flip side, for those celebs who prefer the typical one-note, soundbyte interview I'm a nightmare and we nearly always throw up our hands in frustration.
Oh trust me, I've had a couple interviews that still make me cringe.
Jennifer Garner has always seemed like she'd be a fun interview, a good-hearted soul living a wonderful life and also being a gifted actress. If you love Jennifer Garner, then there's no doubt you'll enjoy Yes Day, an an otherwise one-note film that goes exactly where you expect it to go but is probably even more timid than you expect in actually getting there.
In fact, my only true surprise with Yes Day is that it's based upon a novel by Tom Lichtenheld because, quite honestly, who would actually need to read this story? You know this story. You could probably write this story yourself. You'll watch the film and think to yourself "I could have written that story myself." You'll be right.
Here's the thing. It doesn't matter. Director Miguel Arteta seems to know what he has here and he seemingly lets the cast have fun making it. Yes Day is a PG-rated family film that is unashamed of that PG rating. Yes Day has refreshingly positive Latinx portrayals and a story that you can ultimately feel good about letting the entire family watch.
In the film, Allison and husband Carlos (Edgar Ramirez) are married with three kids - Katie (Jenna Ortega), Ellie (Everly Carganilla), and Nando (Julian Lerner) - a pre-teen, a tween, and an increasingly independent teen.
Can't you just feel the formula oozing?
Both Carlos and Allison used to be "yes" people, but now Carlos has become the bad guy at work while Allison handles the bad guy role at home. It's only when a video project by Nando reveals just how frantic Allison's frequently shouted "No!" has become that both Allison and Carlos begin to take a look at their lives and through the usual family-friendly contrived circumstances (and research!) decide on a 24-hour period where the kids are in charge and the answer is "Yes!"
You know where this will go.
For 24 hours, what at first seems perilous becomes a family-friendly adventure through Los Angeles where the once divided family becomes united again but, of course, there will be the usual lessons to be learned about how parents aren't necessarily always right but ultimately even teenagers really need 'em and in the end we're family and we're all we've really got.
The end. Semi-happily ever after.
You don't watch a film like Yes Day because it's original. You watch a film like Yes Day because it feels good. Because it has a good heart. You watch a film like Yes Day because you know how hard it can be to be a family and it's nice to have these light-hearted reminders of just how amazing it can also be.
Oh, and yeah, you watch a film like Yes Day because of Jennifer Garner.
This Netflix original film is exactly the film you expect it to be, but after this challenging year of isolation and separation and quarantine and loss it's remarkably refreshing to watch this beautifully good-hearted film about being together and the wonder of this thing we call family whether that's biological family or family of choice or whatever.
You may not be surprised by Yes Day, but you'll most certainly say "Yes!" to it.
Written by Richard Propes
The Independent Critic