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Saying ‘Yes’ to ‘Yes Day’: What Jennifer Garner’s New Movie on Netflix Has Taught Us

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“Mum, can I get a puppy?”

 No.

“Can I have chocolate for dinner?” 

No.

“Can I jump with Adik off the dining table and pretend that we’re flying like superheroes?” 

NO!

As parents, the word ‘no’ is practically embedded within our DNA! But what if we decided to say ‘yes’ to our kids every once and a while? Would this really be as catastrophic as we fear?

Jennifer Garner’s latest film ‘Yes Day‘ (produced by her and releasing March 12 on Netflix) poses this very same question.

Poster Credit: Netflix

Inspired by the book of the same title written by Amy Krause Rosenthal, ‘Yes Day’ is a fun, family-friendly affair that takes brave parents Allison and Carlos Torres (played by Jennifer Garner and co-star, Edgar Ramirez) on an adventurous journey of saying ‘yes’ to everything on their kids’ wishlist for one special day! There are some ground rules, of course, but the Torres family still manage to enjoy a hilariously hectic 24 hours across Los Angeles, filled with gut-busting ice cream, an epic car wash, fierce water balloon battles – and so much more!

With the same effervescent energy that she brought to her role in the classic 13 Going on 30, Jennifer lights up the screen, well-matched by the charismatic Edgar and their brood of creative children (played by Jenna Ortega, Julian Lerner and Everly Carganilla).

makchic contributing writer Kimberly Lee recently sat down for a video interview with the movie’s main stars to discuss the making of ‘Yes Day’ and the impact that saying ‘yes’ has had on their respective families.

Q&A with Jennifer Garner and Edgar Ramirez

Yes Day (L-R): Edgar Ramirez as Carlos Torres, Jenna Ortega as Katie Torres, Everly Carganilla as Ellie Torres, Julian Lerner as Nando Torres, and Jennifer Garner as Allison Torres. Netflix © 2021

Hi Jennifer and Edgar! Lovely to have you both here with us today! Jennifer, could you tell us: what were the origins of this story for you?

Jennifer Garner (JG): I love Amy Krouse Rosenthal’s books and I really love everything she stood for as a person, just beckoning loveliness into the world. I read Yes Day! to my middle daughter and she loved it. She used to fantasize about having a Yes Day and I think she might’ve been three-years-old when she said she wanted a Yes Day for Christmas.

So, I did it, and I’ve done it every year since, with the blaring, horrible exception being this last year. But a of couple years ago, I posted some exhausted picture of myself in the aftermath of one of my Yes Days on Instagram — and the wife of Ben Everard, one of our producers, said this should be a movie. So they contacted me and it was just a no-brainer. Of course this should be a movie! We were off to the races immediately.

What are some of the Yes Days with your family like?

JG: We don’t do anything huge. Truth be told, it’s really more about a kid getting to just bend the everyday rules. It’s ice cream for breakfast, sleeping outside in the yard, and…I do something with them called Coach Mom where I make them run laps and do push-ups — for fun, not in a serious way — but they’ll do Coach Kids, and they’ll make me do all kinds of crazy things. My kids’ Yes Days are a surprise, which is different from the movie. We wake up, I’ve cleared my day, I’ve cleared their days, and I just say, “Hey, guess what, kids? It’s Yes Day!” And by then I’ve already planted little things in their mind like, “Wouldn’t it be fun if we went to the cake decorating place and everyone did a cake?”

Photo credit: Netflix

Clever! And how about you,  Edgar? If given the chance, would you do any of the “Big Asks” we see in the film in real life?

Edgar Ramirez (ER): Absolutely! Everything was so much fun. I’m super obsessed about cleaning my car and secretly, I’ve always fantasized about opening the windows in the car wash. So this movie was very cathartic in the sense of liberating myself from that fantasy, like, “Finally! I got to live it!”

I’m also an ice cream freak. I love ice cream. All the flavours. It’s one of my favourite things. So, I got to live my fantasy as well. And I love roller coasters. I rode all of them that day at Magic Mountain, more than once, with the kids. This was one of those movies where everything clicks. In a nutshell: I would do it all over again! But maybe not the foam party in my house — it would be in someone else’s house.

Photo credit: Netflix

Edgar, you also penned a beautiful tribute to your family on your Instagram page recently, citing time as the most valuable gift we can give to the people we love. What are some important lessons that the making of this movie has taught you?

ER: This has been a very transformative experience for me. It is a very personal movie for me, and for [Jennifer]. It’s a celebration of love for families and the concept of families, both the family you’re born into and the family you choose to have.  When I read the script, I knew this was an amazing idea. [It was like]  I went back to my childhood! I wish there was a concept similar to this back in the ’80s when I was a kid!

And then the pandemic hit, and then the movie and the story and the experience just regained a whole different meaning, bigger and deeper, because if there’s something this pandemic has taught all of us, is that time and focus [are] the most beautiful gifts you can give the ones you love. We can’t take it for granted anymore. I mean, anything that we used to take for granted, we don’t have that anymore. And we’re still in it, it’s not over!

I haven’t seen my family for a very long time, since this pandemic hit and the only thing that I wish right now is just to be in the same physical space as them and hug them, and kiss them, and never let them go and I know that is a reality for millions of people around the world right now. So this movie, to me, now is way more important rather than it already was when I was doing it and we really hope that when people watch it, they could feel hopeful that this is going to pass, that sooner or later, we’ll be able to be together and be able to kiss each other, hug each other and be together physically with the people we love the most.

Photo credit: Netflix

That’s such an important reminder. And Jennifer, how about you? What do you hope audiences take away from this film?

JG: There is no better time in the world than right now for kids to hear yes after the year they’ve had. Camp is canceled, school is virtual, no one’s going to soccer practice. What’s more fun than the wish fulfillment of a day filled with yes? That’s something that I am just so excited we get to be for people and I hope we can inspire them to have their own Yes Days where they can come up with their own new family traditions.

Photo credit: Netflix

We at makchic similarly hope that ‘Yes Day’ will encourage parents to embrace the joy of the word ‘yes’ – and allow us to appreciate the precious time we have with our loved ones. If you’re still nervous about saying ‘yes’ however, remember that:

Thinking of trying out a ‘Yes Day’ with your own families? We’d love it if you could share this with us on our social media channels, using the hashtag #YesDayWithMakchic.

All the best, parents!

Interview and photos courtesy of Netflix. Contents of the interview have been edited for brevity. 

As a litigation lawyer turned full-time mum, Kimberly Lee finds that arguing court cases never seemed quite as difficult as arguing with an obstinate toddler over carrots. She writes about life, loss, love and everything in between as she explores her greatest adventure yet- motherhood.