Movie Review | ‘Yes Day’ Starring Jennifer Garner and Édgar Ramirez 

Yes Day is based on the 2019 children’s book by Amy Rosenthal and Tom Lichtenheld. It is a family comedy that presents the idea that kids deserve a “Yes Day” from the constant “no” they get from parents. The idea of bringing up kids is terrifying and too much to handle that the only and easiest way to keep them safe from this wicked world is to say “no” to their constant demands, as presented in the movie. This is the same situation Allison Torres (Jennifer Garner), mother of three, is faced with in this family comedy. 

Allison was once a fun person, she practically says yes to anything fun but it all changed when she had three cute demons, Katie (Jenna Ortega ), Nando (Julian Lerner) and Ellie (Everly Carganilla), and the only way to stop them from turning the house into a disaster is by saying “no”. This made the kids tag her as the fun killer and she always plays the bad guy at home while her husband, Carlos (Édgar Ramírez), tends to play the good guy. A comparison to the dictator, Stalin, by her son, Nando, in a school assignment prompts her to say yes to a “Yes Day”. 

Image via Netflix
The Torres Family

This is a period in which parents agree to say yes to anything their kids want (of course, with some ground rules in place). This concept follows the belief that their kids won’t get upset or complain bitterly about what they do not get if they occasionally have one day where the rein of freedom is at their disposal. The Torres’ 14-year old daughter, Katie, makes a bet with her mom; if she says no to any of their demands, she will go to a music concert with her friends without adult supervision. If she loses the bet, Katie will have to do with an adult escort. Of course, she believes she’ll win the wager because her mom has her ways of putting an end to anything fun. 

The movie will definitely please the target viewers—kids and parents, but not all parents will engage the idea of a “Yes Day”. I feel the movie sort of instills the idea of “I don’t want to ever have kids” for someone who is still contemplating on whether to have kids or not. Nando made a horrible video about his mom, he compared her with a dictator who murdered thousands of people. He wasn’t scolded for the impudence, but only gets to have a “Yes Day” and wreck the house. That is irresponsible parenting and sets a precedent that kids can be rude and horrible and still have their way, or maybe I am just exaggerating and it’s the African in me speaking 🤷‍♀️. The idea of a “Yes Day” for kids is a good concept but using Carlos and Allison’s lax handling of their kids sets a bad example on how kids ought to behave but white parents are wired differently from Africans, so maybe it is just a norm.

Image via Netflix

Miguel Arteta, the director of Yes Day, who co-produced Alexander and the Terrible, Horrible, No Good, Very Bad Day with Jennifer Garner did a good job to bring the children’s  book into life in the family comedy. The movie is a little disappointing but maybe worth the try. I feel the characters tried so hard to be funny in stuff that ought to come natural like the teddy bear fight between Allison and a stranger at the fair.  It  will be funny to kids but that is sort of the point. Nando and his sister, Ellie, were funny to watch, they can bring out giggles and smiles without them doing anything. But like a cat mom once said to me— it’s a not easy to make me laugh; but that is just what she thinks because I do laugh when it is funny😒.

I will suggest African parents watch this movie, because they need to understand young adults’ need for space is imperative. They need that space they keep depriving them of without meddling in their affairs. There is this anxiety and anger that comes with just one person(parents) calling the shots like it’s their life, why can’t they just have the rein for once?. It is just a dream that will never come to pass, because they’ll never understand and even when they see this movie, I’m sure they might rain all sorts of insults on how bratty and rude the kids were. They will fail to understand the hidden message, that these are all perks of growing up— making mistakes and learning from it. 

Image via Netflix
Which African Parent will do this?😒

The Torres’ teen daughter, Katie, learnt her lesson when she left her younger siblings at home all by themselves to attend a music concert. She was dumped by her friends at the concert, scared and alone in the midst of drunk and high teens. Every teenager wants a taste of freedom and the director tried to incorporate the message that “our home/parents will always be a safe haven”, but maybe the way it was presented was a little over the top, nevertheless, we get the gist. 

Yes Day presents the idea that parents need to give their kids a sense of autonomy, they need to make them feel like they can always make good and bad choices and still have their back. I’ll definitely not give kids like young Nando and Ellie that autonomy, it will be a disaster, but teens need that volition to learn. The probability of a “Yes Day” happening in an African home is nearly impossible, we  agree with many decisions our parents make for us because it seems to be our duty yet all hell still manages to break loose most of the time (from my perspective). At the end of the “Yes Day” experience, the Torres family all had something to learn from the little adventure which is kind of the whole point of the movie. 

Rating: 4.5/10

Side Musings

  • The youngest of the Torres kids,Ellie, steals the spotlight in the movie. From the scene where she screams along to a song with her father to the glittering makeup she plasters on her mom’s face with watercolour. The wittiest of them all is when she pretends to be a bouncer at the “nerd party”.
  • The moment kids who came for the nerd party ignore Carlos’ outcry at the sight of his wrecked house and continue with the party.
  • I would really like to try Nando’s bubble foam experiment, not just in my parents house but maybe to get back at an ex or a friend😈.

Yes Day is currently streaming on Netflix.

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