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LOS ANGELES (Reuters) - Comedian Jim Carrey is back to doing whatever it takes to get a laugh, and in his new movie "Yes Man" that means bungee jumping while chatting on a cell phone, and mounting a motorbike in a hospital gown.
He seems a world away from last year, when instead of a comedy the actor starred in dark thriller "The Number 23," a numerology-inspired film most critics said did not add up.
In his new film, which opens on Friday, Carrey is back to his brand of broad comedy that made audiences roar in films such as "Liar Liar" and "Bruce Almighty," which raked in more than $180 million and $240 million, respectively, at U.S. and Canadian box offices. "Number 23" did about $35 million.
"It really comes down to thinking about someone sitting in a seat laughing," Carrey told reporters in recent interviews to promote the movie. "And that's it, when you do a movie like this. It's really that that gets me off."
For "Yes Man," Carrey bungee jumped off a bridge in a scene that filmmakers saved until the end, in case anything happened to the star. He told them he would say "yes" to bungee jumping only once, "so you might as well get it on camera."
Carrey's decision fits with the theme of "Yes Man," in which he plays a loan officer who turns his life upside down by adopting a new philosophy and saying "yes" to everything, from learning Korean to piloting a plane.
His new-found spontaneity helps him win the love of a quirky and impulsive woman named Allison, played by Zooey Deschanel. But he finds out never saying "no" creates plenty of problems.
Similarly in 1997's "Liar Liar," Carrey played an attorney who is magically prevented from lying for 24 hours when his son's birthday wish for him to tell the truth comes true.
But the filmmakers behind "Yes Man" said they wanted the movie to revolve around a life-altering decision rather than magic.
Carrey, 46, said that, like his character, he goes through periods of social seclusion and denying himself fun in life.
"Sometimes saying no is saying yes to your own self worth. Know what I'm saying?," Carrey said, in a bit of wordplay.
The Canadian-born comic was taken under the wing of the late comedian Rodney Dangerfield early in his career, later emerging as a star in the early 1990s on the edgy and multi-racial U.S. television show "In Living Color."
Since then he has become a major box office draw for movie comedies, but he has also taken chances in dramas such as the 2004 "Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind."
Still, for the most part his fans have failed to turn out for Carrey's dramatic turns in the huge numbers that flock to his comedies. "Eternal Sunshine" earned wide critical acclaim but only $34 million at U.S. and Canadian box offices.
But in talking about his new film, one can understand some of the reasons why the actor says "yes" to drama.
In shooting "Yes Man," Carrey said he fractured three ribs shooting one of his many pratfalls. It's a tough job, comedy.
Reporting by Alex Dobuzinskis: Editing by Bob Tourtellotte