2 out of 5 stars
The life of a parent has its highs and lows. There is complete joy in seeing your child mature and become an influential part of society, but getting them there can be where the challenge can be found. In the process of helping them to mature, the word ‘no’ can be a regular part of your vernacular. Netflix’s latest family film based on Amy Krouse Rosenthal and Tom Lichtenheld’s children’s book tries to show parents how to remedy this aspect of parental living.
Yes Day is a concept that encourages families to have one day where every child's request is answered with an affirmative answer. Parents can put parameters in place to ensure nothing illegal occurs. Still, ultimately this day has the potential for fun for everyone involved. Allison (Jennifer Garner) and Carlos (Édgar Ramírez) Torres decide to give this idea a go after realising that their children see their mother as tyrannical at times and their father as an aloof figure in their lives. They set the date on the calendar and the Torres children have to earn this special privilege through improved grades and extensive chores.
When the fateful time arrives, the whole family decides to go all-in for each activity on the children’s list. As they go from extreme makeovers to car washes with the windows open, they all find that they can enjoy the whimsical and ridiculous antics. Until things go very wrong and the activities cause issues that find the parents in hospital and eventually in gaol. This leads to the family's turning point and causes a rift that may prove challenging to mend. Each family member must decide how they will react to this particular day, especially when things do not turn out as planned.
This story has the same earmarks as another family-friendly film that stars Jennifer Garner called Alexander and the Terrible, Horrible, No Good, Very Bad Day. The difference is that it involves the whole family by highlighting the dysfunction of a family who has lost their ability to communicate. The messaging seems to find its inspiration in the rediscovery of adventure. Each family member is in a new season of life and injecting a bit of positivity into life. Yes Day had so much promise of an endearing message for unity and love. Yet, it turns into an example of poor parenting choices that lead to a messy narrative and a ridiculously predictable conclusion.
Every parent can relate to the trials that are experienced by Allison and Carlos Torres. Still, their problems move from one set of minor issues to exposing even more significant challenges under the surface of their lives. They learn that merely saying ‘yes’ to their children does not solve these issues, but the process is so cringe-worthy and over the top, this movie is painful to watch. As they operate in a world that seems to have unlimited funds, exceptionally ungrateful children and miraculous cleaning products, it is hard to relate with any of their experiences. Then for the couple to continue to make more bad choices, it once again seems to say that adults are fools and children rule.
Sadly, there is an overwhelming desire to celebrate Netflix producing a film for the family to enjoy. Unfortunately, they delivered something with all the right packaging, but with all the wrong messaging for parents and their children. For some, it will lead to laughter, but for many, this leads to a few uncomfortable chuckles that try to hide the pain this exposes in many people’s lives.
REEL DIALOGUE: Do we take our families for granted?
One of the glaring issues with Yes Day was the Torres children's selfish nature and how they took their family for granted. This story exposes that some modern parenting philosophies aim to shield children from the realities of life. This manifests itself in a minimising of the value of family and parents who love you.
We need to show our children that life does involve suffering and family can be the salve that soothes these painful moments. The application process may sting a bit at first, but family can bring comfort throughout all of life's experiences. Part of this process may be discipline, but it can be the very thing we need at the end of the day when it is done lovingly. Today is a good day to look around and be thankful for the families we have been given. The highs, the lows, the good days, and the bad days, each make our life richer in the end and should make us appreciate the family we have been given.
Love bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things. 1 Corinthians 13:7