Motley’s Aoife O’ Leary looks at two movies guaranteed to inspire some New Year’s resolutions.
With each New Year comes the obligatory New Year’s resolutions, and with those; new risks. Inevitably, many of us give up on our diets, quit quitting the cigarettes or celebrate dry January with a drink on January the 3rd. Imagine though, if at the end of the year you could actually say you stuck with something you had set out for yourself? A self-five would definitely be in order! Many films have shown characters who have stuck with their plans to better themselves. We can either see them as an inspiration like in The Bucket List (which despite its lackluster script, still represents trying to make your life the best it can be) or as a warning not to push ourselves too far like in Yes Man. These films invite us to try and get out of our current rut by taking chances. After all, that is what New Year’s resolutions are all about.
​In The Bucket List, we are presented with two men diagnosed with cancer sharing a hospital room. Edward (Jack Nicholson) is a wealthy but lonely business man who owns the hospital they stay in, while Carter (Morgan Freeman) is an ordinary family man who works as a mechanic. Both are given a short amount of time to live, but it is with this time they make the decision to have a series of adventures from their self-written bucket-list. In no way was this film ground breaking in cinematic terms but it does however represent the spirit of the New Year; making a bold decision and going with it in order change your life for the better. The men have a series of astounding and thrilling adventures such as sky-diving, visiting the pyramids, motor-cycling over the Great Wall of China and all kinds of things that come across as equally heartwarming as we follow them on their final hurrah! While these adventures may be a tad extreme for a student’s budget, it does provide some inspiration. Along the way these men find themselves and with it a new lease on life. Carter returns to his family having learned that while he hasn’t accomplished his original life dream, he’s created a new one. As for Edward the lonely millionaire, prompted by Carter, he re-connects with his estranged daughter and grand-daughter (cue the tissues). So while probably not very realistic, The Bucket List is in its own way inspirational. The philosophy of the film is to take risks, make a change and do something amazing.
Yes Man can be seen in the same light, albeit with a cautionary tale thrown in for good measure. Jim Carey plays Carl who has gone through his entire existence with the word ‘no’ as his stock answer and attitude to life. We are given a grim depiction of his life as bank loans officer and where he declines all social invitations in lieu of staying in to watch Transformers. However his life is changed when an old friend brings him to a conference where Terrance Bundly is speaking as a ‘Yes Guru’. During this conference Carl is pressured into making a vow to say yes to every opportunity life throws his way. Cue the usual Jim Carey craziness: a series of hilarious events. Leaving the conference, he gives a homeless man a lift, which ultimately leads him to meet his love interest, the delightfully quirky Alison (half human-half pixie Zoey Deschanel). We are treated to a montage of Carl’s new outlook on life as he says yes to all sorts of things including a Middle Eastern bride and an enlargement of his…area.  He goes on to learn Korean, play the guitar and pretty much say yes to everything he’s asked. Amazingly, and ‘not at all contrived in any way’, each of these new skills pay off later for Carl. Having agreed to attend Alison’s jogging photography class  at six in the morning after a night of binging on Red bull, he eventually crashes. Ultimately, we see Carl’s social and professional life improve dramatically as a result of his saying yes to each decision he has to make. Of course there are drawbacks to saying yes to everything and these are clearly shown in the film. As with anything in life, moderation is key. However again the sentiment is clear, this film wishes to enthuse people to seize the opportunities that are laid out before them. Maybe don’t get a mail order bride or accept that romantic advance from your octogenarian neighbor with the false teeth, but do take risks and chances this New Year.
These two films see people attempting to change their lives from the everyday to the extraordinary and encourage the viewer to follow suit. This, as shown in these films, can be difficult at times but is always worth it in the end for our characters.
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