You have to really respect Yes Day for knowing exactly what kind of movie it is.

It set out to be a wholesome family comedy laden with life lessons, sentiment and charismatic stars. It's not trying to break the mould or be subversive or edgy. So what you think it's going to be is exactly what you're going to get.

When it hews so closely to a tried-and-true template that serves a particular audience, you can't fault it for not having bigger ambitions. Especially when it ticks all the boxes and doesn't really stuff anything up.

The only "added bonus" Yes Day is bringing to the table is that it is centred on a mixed-race family, with cultural traditions and a second language seamlessly woven in without comment.

Yes Day coasts on the considerable star power of its leads Jennifer Garner and Edgar Ramirez, who plays Allison and Carlos Torres.

Chaos reigns in the Torres household.
Chaos reigns in the Torres household.

Allison was a fun person, jumping out of planes, hanging off the side of mountains, following a group of nuns in a foreign city - she was the funnest person she knew. When she and Carlos first met, their life philosophy was to go for, say yes to everything because you don't know where it leads you.

Fast forward to the chaos of three kids later and the presiding word out of Allison's mouth is "no", frequently phrased as "no, no, no, never, not on your life, don't even think about it".

So, when she realises her kids compare her to Joseph Stalin and Benito Mussolini and hurt at being called a "fun killer", Allison acquiesces to a "yes day".

For 24 hours, no matter the request, Allison and Carlos have to say yes to anything their kids want. There are limits, of course, including budget, location and legality.

The premise gives Yes Day the opportunity to stage grand set pieces that will really ring the wish fulfilment bells of younger audience members, including gorging on ice cream for breakfast, the greatest all-in water balloon fight and an unusual trip to the car wash.

There's also a sequence that doubles as an extended ad for US theme park chain Six Flags - but rare is the American family comedy that doesn't feature a shameless plug.

Yes Day movie on Netflix
Yes Day movie on Netflix

The emotional beats are grounded in the tensions between Allison and 14-year-old daughter Katie (Jenna Ortega), a frequently rehashed dynamic of the teenager who wants independence and the protective mother not yet ready to let her go.

And the onscreen charm of Garner and Ramirez are hard to deny, plus small roles from comedic actors including Nat Faxon, Arturo Castro, Fortune Feimster and June Diane Raphael add a zing.

There are few surprises, if any, in Yes Day, but that familiarity can be comforting for exhausted parents trying to find something the whole family can watch together without any awkward and tiresome questions from curious minds.

Rating: 3/5

Yes Day is streaming now on Netflix

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Originally published as Netflix movie is exactly what you think it is

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