“‘No’ is my favorite word. I get an endorphin rush just saying it,” my husband joked as we sat down to watch Yes Day on Netflix. Our daughter has not yet hit the toddler phase, so no one is saying “no” that much in our house, but this new family movie is focused on the parenting technique of giving kids a 24-hour window in which their parents say yes to all of their requests within some boundaries, as a way to encourage good behavior.
In the movie, Allison (Jennifer Garner) and Carlos Torres (Edgar Ramirez) passed their adventurous streaks on to their three children, Katie (Jenna Ortega), Nando (Julain Lerner), and Ellie (Everly Carganilla), but found that parenting had turned them into party poopers who just say “no” all the time. At the suggestion of their kids’ guidance counselor, they plan a Yes Day in hopes that Allison can prove to the kids (especially teenaged Katie) that she really can be fun. Naturally, it does not go off without a hitch.
Yes Day really looks like it was supposed to be a theatrical release. It has that bright, polished look of a blockbuster family movie and a bright, shiny Jennifer Garner, too. If you’re looking for a movie to watch as a family, it is a pick that will be fun for both kids and adults. The stakes for the parents and the kids are pretty clear and there is plenty of tension within the family and from outside circumstances. Some of the antics are pretty ridiculous, but they are performed in a fun manner that got us onboard, even after an initial eyeroll. The ending was very sweet, but not entirely predictable, a coup for a children’s movie. The chemistry between the actors playing the family is wonderful and brings the whole story together. Each member of the family has an individual quirk, but they go together in a way that feels like home.
If Yes Day is sweet, then Deadly Illusions is sour. Very sour. It plays at being a (surprisingly erotic) thriller but felt more like fan fiction a die-hard fan of, say, Gillian Flynn, might write. In the movie, best selling author Mary Morrison (Kristin Davis) is asked to write another novel in her hit series. She and her somewhat sketchy husband, Tom (Dermot Mulroney), hire a nanny, Grace (Greer Grammer) so that Mary can focus on writing, but all Mary can focus on is the pretty, innocent nanny. Grace is enamored with Mary. Spoiler…multiple personalities are involved. It is cliched with bad writing, bad acting, and bad production value. This movie is supposed to be racy and thrilling, but I fell asleep watching it. Twice. Skip it and watch Lifetime instead.
For the middle of the road, Operation Varsity Blues: The College Admissions Scandal combines interviews and reenactments to tell the story of the federal investigation into Rick Singer’s “side door” that wealthy people used to get their children into elite colleges, snaring actresses Lori Loughlin and Felicity Huffman in the process. I personally never found this story quite as interesting as the tabloids wanted me to, but this documentary, directed by Chris Smith, tells the story in a clear, concise fashion that made it all come together with suspense, snark, and none of the usual ten episode overkill that Netflix has been giving true crime lately. If you have followed this story carefully, you may have wanted more, but I thought it was just enough to cover the case in a sharp, well-produced manner.
Perhaps the most fun we’ve had watching Netflix at our house lately came from Marriage or Mortgage, another installment in Netflix’s attempt to take over HGTV’s turf, in which couples work with a wedding planner and a real estate agent to plan their dream wedding or find their dream home (in Nashville) and then have to choose to spend their own money on just one of them. The formula of the show is fairly predictable, taking a pinch of Love It or List It and a dash of Say Yes to the Dress, but the fun comes from guessing what the couple will choose. Most of the couples also seem sweet and down to earth in a way that had us rooting for them. As far as junk food TV goes, Marriage or Mortgage was good for spending time together when the weather was bad.
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