‘Yes Day’ will give everyone above the age of 12 anxiety

When you see a Netflix movie, you immediately have a set of expectations: not cinematic genius, but a nice movie. Although “Yes Day” is supposed to be a comedy, we ended up with strong feelings of worry and anxiety throughout the majority of the film. Perhaps that just shows that we are old farts with no sense of humor. 

The basic idea is simple: Allison Torres (Jennifer Garner) is depicted as a fairly strict parent, so much so that her 10-year-old son, Nando (Julian Lerner), compared her to Stalin and Moussolini. Carlos (Édgar Ramírez) is the chill parent, the one who always defers to mom to say no, making him the kids’ favorite parent. The underlying conflict in the movie is that their oldest daughter, Katie (Jenna Ortega), wants to go to “Fleek Fest,” a Coachella-esque concert with her friends. After being told that she is too controlling at parent-teacher conferences, Allison decides that they will try having a “yes day,” where parents are not allowed to say no to their kids, and must do whatever requests their kids have.  

During this “yes day,” the kids definitely had some fun ideas planned for the day. In particular, they ate a giant $40 sundae, participated in a giant Kool Aid water balloon game of capture the flag, went to Six Flags Magic Mountain and even had a party planned at their own house (which the parents never had any idea about). We felt that this was more of the fun part of the movie: the kids did not do anything that was too egregious, and there were also some funny circumstances that happened during these events that kept us entertained throughout!

However, we didn’t love the whole premise. Our very first issue came with the fact that the mom didn’t say “no” unreasonably. Would you really let a six-year-old go to school without shoes? No. Who in their right mind would let a 14-year-old go to a concert alone? If she was 16, maybe, but 14? That’s what, a freshman in high school? The whole underlying conflict in the movie was problematic for us because although the movie painted the mom as the unreasonable bad guy, she was just being a responsible parent! In this light, we think that maybe Katie should have been 16 instead of 14. It would have made the premise of the movie a bit more reasonable than what it currently is. Instead, we couldn’t help but be frustrated that the reasonable parent was continuously portrayed to be an evil villain who does not know what fun is.

What we really liked about the movie is that it truly does resolve all the issues that the family dynamic had. At the beginning of the movie, Carlos was too relaxed and never said no to his kids, which is an issue of itself. The dad really should be parenting his kids. Just because he’s always the bad guy at work, doesn’t mean he gets a pass on parenting. Thankfully he apologized for that, and started showing his kids that he is a parent too. Even at the very end of the movie, Carlos started yelling at his kids for a party that they threw without their permission. Katie also realized that she is too young and not independent enough to go to such a concert alone, and that there are scary things that can happen at such events to someone who is young and alone. Oh yeah, and she also learned that she is irresponsible, because she left her 10- and six-year-old siblings home alone to go to this concert. Thankfully, they learned what can happen when a bunch of kids stay alone unsupervised and there is no one to say “no” to them. Unfortunately that lesson took a lot of foam and a destroyed TV. (though we really appreciated that for once, it wasn’t the teenager that threw a huge party). Allison learned that she doesn’t always have to say no and that having fun with the kids is OK (although, ugh, she really wasn’t being unreasonable). 

Overall, while being a kind and fun family movie, it definitely left us anxious during some moments. For example, when a child accidentally dropped a catalyst for a chemical reaction that creates an absurd amount of foam into the chemical reaction mixture, foam filled the entire house. Maybe, once again, this is because we are old farts, but we had to pause the movie to catch our breath because we knew exactly what destruction and mayhem would happen to their poor house.

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