The Movie ‘Yes Day’ Invites Us All to Say Yes After a Year of Saying No

Star Jennifer Garner talks about her first Netflix film, reclaiming your sense of fun, and how you can have a Yes Day while staying safe during quarantine. 

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Posted in , Mar 12, 2021

Yes Day movie starring Jennifer Garner, Édgar Ramírez, and Jenna Ortega (NETFLIX © 2021)

Netflix’s new film Yes Day is a lively celebration of family, fun, and the infinite possibilities of saying “yes!” It stars Jennifer Garner, Édgar Ramírez, and Jenna Ortega.  

Allison and Carlos Torres (Garner and Ramírez) are devoted but over-worked parents. They used to be the kind of people that said “Yes” to everything, from traveling to skydiving; but now, they spend their days saying “No” to their three kids, Katie (Ortega), Nando, and Ellie. The couple starts to wonder, when did “No” become the automatic answer to everything? That’s when they learn about Yes Day, a new trend where parents have to say “Yes” to everything their children want for a whole 24 hours. Can Allison and Carlos handle a whole day of “Yes” and show their kids how fun they used to be?  

For actress and producer Jennifer Garner, Yes Day is more than a movie – it's a family tradition. She and her family were inspired by the children’s book Yes Day by Amy Kraus Rosenthal, which the film is loosely based on.  

“I have been a big believer in Yes Days since my kids were little,” Garner tells Guideposts.org. “My daughter asked for Yes Days until I finally gave her one. We’ve been doing them ever since.” 

After Garner posted on Instagram about her family’s tradition, she met with film producers about bringing the idea to the big screen. “Yes Day comes from my own life,” says Garner who shares three children with her ex-husband Ben Affleck. “I’ve never done anything as autobiographical as this film.”  

Garner says Yes Days aren’t just about saying “Yes” in your life now. It’s also about moms getting in touch with who they used to be.  

“We [moms] can get so focused on just getting through the day— through the week, through the baseball season, through the school year —that we can end up becoming almost like drill sergeants,” she says. “Having that much to do can take away extra time for fun, and for being who you used to be before you had kids. This movie is a celebration of what moms have been asked to do, and what we do with love, with joy, and with gratitude. And then reclaiming our fun selves.” 

The experience of Yes Days has changed Garner’s perspective as a parent. It made her realize how often she said “No” without thinking just because something didn’t fit into her to-do list or her plan for the day. “[This experience] has softened my ‘No’s’,” she says. “It makes me more willing to throw what I was going to do into the air and be more open to ‘Yes.’”   

Perhaps most remarkable is the timing of the film’s release. Yes Day began streaming on Netflix nearly a year to the day since the Covid-19 shutdown. “We have had a year of ‘No,’” Garner says. “Kids have heard ‘No’ for a whole year. And this is a day, just one day, of saying ‘Yes!’” 

Of course it’s still important to continue to stay isolated and maintain social distancing as we all work through the long-anticipated vaccine rollout. Luckily, it’s very possible to have a “Yes Day” while staying safe. Garner and her family kept up their tradition in 2020, they just had to make a few adjustments. Like in the film, Yes Days come with rules, such as none of the activities can be dangerous. So it’s easy to add in a rule that the family needs to stay home during Yes Day. While the film shows an adventurous Yes Day spanning multiple participants and locations, Garner says Yes Days are less about what you do and more about their intention. 

“Yes Day is about the attention paid and the focus on the kids,” she says. “Starting the day with a big fat ‘Yes’ and finishing it that way too. If your kids want to play hide and seek, you play hide and seek until they’re done. You don’t stop in the middle and say, ‘I’m just going to check something on my phone.’” 

Because at its heart, Yes Days are really about family connection and taking a break from schedules and screens to spend time with each other. The same can be said of the film! Yes Day talks about more than saying ‘Yes.’ It shows us sibling bonding, parenting through partnership, and learning when it’s important to hold on— and to let go.  

“I just want to feel like I put something out there that gave a family a warm, happy afternoon,” Garner says of the film. “If they do a Yes Day, great! But if they at least just had a great time for a couple of hours, I’ll be so happy.” 

Yes Day is directed by Miguel Arteta and is currently streaming on Netflix. 

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