While many parents might balk at the idea of handing control to their kids for 24 hours, it’s easy to see why the idea makes a great premise for a family film.
So it’s no surprise that after reading about “yes days” – and doing them with her own children – Hollywood star Jennifer Garner has turned the concept into a story for the big screen.
In Yes Day, the actress plays the hard-line mother of three children who finds herself saying no all the time, while her husband, played by Edgar Ramirez in his first ever comedy role, gets to be the nice guy.
As well as starring in the film, Garner, who has three children herself, also produced it and was heavily involved in creating the storyline and characters.
She tells Sky News’ Backstage podcast the story is extremely close to home.
“This movie is based on my life more than anything I’ve ever done before,” she says. “I was very much just part of every stage of writing the script and developing the stories.”
Garner says it was essential for her to show the reality of parenting and that families aren’t perfect.
“What was important to me is that the drama doesn’t have to be external,” she says. “The drama really comes from the imbalance that happens in raising kids and the imbalance – the pain – of letting your child grow up and how hard that is, and how flawed and messy that whole experience is for everyone involved.”
Garner approached Miguel Arteta, best known for making independent films including The Good Girl and Beatriz At Dinner, to direct, as they had worked together previously.
“When a movie star’s doing something because it comes from their heart you know it’s going to be an amazing experience,” Arteta tells Backstage. “Jen Garner is such a positive and authentic person that I couldn’t say yes quick enough.
“I wanted to just join the Jennifer Garner magic carpet ride of Yes Day – it was her vision, this movie, and I just wanted to help her bring it to life.”
Arteta had thought Ramirez would be great for a comedic role since seeing him in 2015 film, Joy, starring Jennifer Lawrence.
The actor, who is known for serious parts – including playing Gianni Versace in the 2018 American Crime Story miniseries, and more recently Detective Joe Mendoza in The Undoing – describes his experience making Yes Day as “pure therapy”.
“[It was] my first comedy, you know, and I was terrified,” he says.
Garner quips that she didn’t know he could smile before he did this film, and Ramirez says it has been a relief to show his lighter side.
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“Actually I think that this is the character that is closer to myself because I’m super silly,” he says. “I’m so grateful to Jennifer first and foremost, you know, because of the invitation.
“She invited me to do this, she’s the reason why I decided to do this movie, and and then she helped me so much throughout the process.”
With the film inspired by her own life, Garner admits she has mixed feelings about its release.
“I feel nervous… I feel a little vulnerable and exposed, it is so personal,” she says. “But mostly I’m just excited.
“It’s been a joy to work on through the pandemic and to realise that we really are going to give families this moment where they can all cuddle up together and just feel proud of themselves for what they’ve gotten through together, and hopeful about what’s to come.”
Yes Day is out on Netflix now