Jennifer Garner and Edgar Ramírez Embrace Their Silly Sides in Family Comedy ‘Yes Day’

Based on the novel of the same name by Amy Krouse Rosenthal, Netflix’s family comedy “Yes Day” showcases an idea in which parents say yes to all of their children’s requests (within reason) for a whole day. Jennifer Garner and Edgar Ramírez star as Allison and Carlos Torres, a couple who were once free-spirited, down-for-anything types, but have been finding themselves using the word “no” multiple times a day since becoming parents.

In addition to having to deal with kids, Carlos, a lawyer, also has to say no to his younger colleagues regularly. His long work hours mean that Allison is always stuck playing bad cop with their kids: 14-year-old Katie (Jenna Ortega), tween Nando (Julian Lerner), and elementary schooler Ellie (Everly Carganilla). It’s an all-too-familiar dynamic, and Allison, sick of being portrayed as a tyrant in her own home, initiates the first Torres Family Yes Day.

“Yes Day” reunites Garner with director Miguel Arteta, whom she previously worked with on “Alexander and the Terrible, Horrible, No Good, Very Bad Day.” During a recent phone call with Entertainment Voice, Arteta revealed that it was Garner, who also served as a producer on the film, who sent him the screenplay for “Yes Day.” “I realized it was something I could put my heart behind,” he said when asked what led him to say yes to “Yes Day.” “That, combined with my love for Jen, it was a no-brainer.”

Arteta went on to explain how “‘Yes Day’ was not only Jen’s vision, but also inspired by her real life, as she has been doing Yes Day for years with her own three kids. Some scenes in the film are even based on real bonding moments she had with her family. “She loves that it’s such a wonderful tool to create really special memories, and to have the family be more present with each other. She just really believes in it and wants to share it with the world, which is, by the way, the best reason for a movie star to make a movie, when it really just comes from the heart like that. She was our Yes Day guru, because she lived it more than anybody. She was our guiding light with all questions about how Yes Day would go.” 

Garner brings her usual warmth to her role, as well as her silly side, as does Ramírez. While Garner has become a vet of family films, “Yes Day” is Ramírez’s first. While most wouldn’t think of him as a comedic actor, including Ramírez himself, Arteta had a different opinion, and his instincts paid off.

“I’d seen that movie ‘Joy,’ where he played Jennifer Lawrence’s husband. It was a small part, but in their break-up scene, he’s so hilarious. He’s just weeping and weeping for ten minutes. He said to me, ‘I’ve never done comedy before. I’m really nervous about it.’ I said, ‘No, I’ve seen you do it. You’re terrific.’ It was so rewarding from day one to see him kind of bust out and be liberated in trying a completely different thing.”

While many films dealing with parents facing burnout tend to get caught up in the trap of making parenthood seem like a total drag, there are plenty of lighthearted moments in “Yes Day” from the beginning that show the love between Allison and Carlos and their kids. A fun scene early on features Carlos driving little Ellie to school, and the pair of them are rocking out to “Epic” by Faith No More. Arteta revealed that the carpool karaoke was Ramírez’s idea, as the song was “his jam.” “That was one of those moments where your actors contributed something really special.” 

When asked about finding that balance between those lighthearted moments that celebrate the parent-child bond with those more comedic moments that illustrate how parenthood has really cramped Allison and Carlos’ style, Arteta gave more credit to Garner and Ramírez. “Jen Garner believes in family so much, she’s an ambassador for Save the Children. She’s such a dedicated mom. I think it just flows out of her, her love for family. By the way, Edgar, he doesn’t have kids, but his sister is raising two daughters, and he’s been really a big part of that. It’s one of the reasons too that he wanted to be involved with the movie… They both really, really care about the family, I  think that really shows in the movie.”

The Torres’ Yes Day turns out to be just about everything the kids dreamed of, even if it does include stints in the E.R. and jail, but that’s what happens when one family eats a gut-busting ice cream sundae, stages a wacky athletic event with aspiring reality stars, heads to Magic Mountain and more in one day. But there’s more at stake for Allison than just her children’s adoration, as she made a bet with Katie. In a subplot that’s relatable for anyone who’s ever been a teenager, Katie wants to go to a huge concert, but her mom won’t let her go without an adult. If Allison goes a whole day without saying no, she gets to go to the concert. If not, Katie gets to go unchaperoned.

All of this leads to a huge concert scene in the final act, and the main performer is none other than H.E.R. Arteta discussed the superstar singer’s cameo. “We were looking for that person who would represent the good vibes of what ‘Yes Day’ is when our music director suggested H.E.R. I went to see her play, and the moment she came out onstage, I was like, ‘This is somebody who’s representing something different in music. Clearly, her values are about positive image, about unity, and she’s so anti-materialistic… I was really excited about the warmth she could bring at the end of the film. We were lucky, she was in town for the Grammys and had the time to do this.”

Yes Day” begins streaming March 12 on Netflix.