Netflix review: Kids get their wish in over-the-top ‘Yes Day’

(From left) Edgar Ramirez, Julian Lerner, Everly Carganilla, Jennifer Garner, and Jenna Ortega in 'Yes Day.' Handout

Allison (Jennifer Garner) and Carlos (Édgar Ramírez) were two people who enjoyed extreme adventure activities growing up and as a young couple. "Yes" was their favorite word. However, when they got married and had three kids — Katie (Jenna Ortega), Nando (Julian Lerner) and Ellie (Everly Carganilla) — they became more cautious and very protective. Much to their kids dismay, their favorite word had become "No."

During a parent-teacher meeting, teachers told Alison how Katie and Nando had portrayed her in their recent homework to be a very restrictive dictator in their house. A fellow parent, Mr. Deacon (Nat Faxon), advised them that his secret to having a harmonious relationship with his own six children was to allow them to have a "Yes Day"– a full 24 hours when the parents say "Yes" to all their kids' wishes (provided they stay within predetermined ground rules).

The first Yes Day of the Torres family was all planned out by the kids as an elaborate five-event fun fest from morning to night. After dressing up the parents in wacky outfits, their first activity was a sweet breakfast in a Korean restaurant. This was followed by a visit to the car wash with a crazy twist. After a rough and messy paintball flag activity, they went for rides at an amusement park. That was where the well-laid plans began to spin out of control.

Jennifer Garner had always been a favorite actress of mine ever since her "Alias" (2001) days. I first saw her comic chops in "13 Going on 30" (2004) and she was delightful there. In fact, her character Allison here was reminiscent of Jenna in "13" where she threw all caution in the wind and acted as juvenile as she could. However, that cat fight over a pink giant gorilla plush toy was just too overlong, forced and unfunny, despite Garner's charms.

Edgar Ramirez is a Venezuelan actor who broke through internationally as Carlos the Jackal in "Carlos" (2010). None of his subsequent films proved as big as that big break. He had two films on Netflix last year "Last Days of American Crime" and "Wasp Network" both of which had mediocre reviews. His Carlos here was a huge departure from all the tough guy characters he had played before, and he still seemed awkward goofing off here.

The concept of this film about a day when kids' wishes were granted by their parents was good, but the execution of director Miguel Arteta was farcical and over-the-top, all for the gleeful amusement of kids less than 10.

Yet ironically there may be mixed messages. Some of the stunts pulled off in that climactic nerd science party here looked dangerous, despite looking like a lot of fun and easy to clean up. Parental guidance definitely required.

This review was originally published in the author's blog, "Fred Said."

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