YES MEN, THE
After setting up a fake World Trade Organisation website, Andy Bichlbaum and Mike Bonanno responded to people who thought it was the real thing by impersonating WTO officials at conferences. They delivered what they thought were outrageous extensions of WTO policies (which in their view does nothing to balance the have nots with the haves of the world) only to find hardly anyone reacted with the shock they anticipated. Bichlbaum even appeared on CNBC Marketwrap Europe mouthing sentiments like 'might is right'. Their satirical appearances were even taken for real at a textile conference in Finland, where Bichlbaum emerged from his business suit in a gold body hugging outfit with a giant phallus that had a small tv screen built into it, which was how managers of the future would oversee underpaid workers in the field. And then there was the Sydney accounting conference ....
Review by Andrew L. Urban:
In the age old tradition of satirical comedy (even Lear's Fool had it down pat, for example), The Yes Men takes a serious subject and attacks its underbelly with the kind of sincerity and naivety that would do an undergraduate production proud. But they go further and higher - higher in the sense that the audiences are not fellow students but corporate and official executives who are given a message dressed in the same varnecular they are used to, but with a different content to their expectations.
To their credit, it is in fact a roomful of students who finally twig, but not before responding indignantly at The Yes Men's proposed solution to feeding starving millions in underdeveloped countries: recycled feces from humans, filtered and represented as burgers.
The film has its share of highlights like this, but it also carries a bit too much padding, as we watch them walk, prepare and walk some more on their way to their destinations. Shorter and sharper would play better, but that aside, the raw, home video quality of the footage only adds to the sense of rebellion that the two guys exhibit.
The neatest joke is played on the Sydney accountants, who are told by a man they take to be from the WTO that "in light of all its mistakes" the WTO had just decided shut down in its present form, and reconstruct itself as a new organisation genuinely devoted to humanistic outcomes. The heartening thing is (and this tends to undercut the film's central message of corporate beings having been brainwashed into rapaciousness) that these accountants all respond positively to this news, with hope in their hearts for a saner world.
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YES MEN, THE (M)
CAST: Documentary featuring Andy Bichlbaum, Mike Bonanno, Michael Moore, Sal Salamone
PRODUCER: Sarah Price, Chris Smith
DIRECTOR: Dan Ollman, Sarah Price, Chris Smith
EDITOR: Dan Ollman
RUNNING TIME: 83 minutes
AUSTRALIAN DISTRIBUTOR: Rialto
AUSTRALIAN RELEASE: July 7, 2005
VIDEO DISTRIBUTOR: Sony Pictures Entertainment
VIDEO RELEASE: September 21, 2005