Image from 'Yes Man'
Three newly released films led the U.S. box office this past weekend, but none hit the heights that movies with similar stars and genres have achieved in recent years, S. T. Karnick writes.

Jim Carrey’s new comedy, Yes Man, opened at the top spot in U.S. movie theater box office performance over the weekend, with an OK $18.2 million.

Carrey, clearly attempting to return to the crazy comedy of Liar Liar and his other earlier hits, after a desperate and disastrous flirtation with grim or more serious fare in recent years, seems to have righted the ship, although the first-weekend audience for Yes Man is by no means impressive. Still, it suggests that even though he has disappointed audiences in recent years, they’re willing to forgive if he promises to do what he’s best at—mugging for the camera and generally being an idiot.

The film’s audience appeal will surely be undermined, however, by its use of unpleasant situations and subject matter such as suicide.

Coming in second with just under $15 million was Seven Pounds, starring big box office guarantee Will Smith in a film bearing what was evidently intended to be an intriguing PR campaign but which instead came off as puzzling and off-putting, would probably have drawn less than a million dollars of U.S. business in its first weekend without the extremely popular Smith attached as star.

Whether Smith will ultimately lift the film or Seven Pounds will drag his popularity down a bit remains to be seen.

Also opening much less impressively than comparable films in recent years is The Tale of Despereaux, an animated film with a fairly strong emphasis on grimness and, yes, desperation. Whether the ultimately uplifting resolution will be enough for audiences seeking real entertainment with good thoughts behind it is an open question.