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  The Yes Men Fix the World

Starring: Andy Bichlbaum, Mike Bonnano

Directed by: Andy Bichlbaum, Mike Bonnano, Kurt Engfehr

Produced by: Laura Nix, Jess Search, Juliette Timsit
Written by:
Andy Bichlbaum, Mike Bonnano

Distributor: HBO Films

 
As seen at the 2009 SXSW Film Festival:

     If you havenít heard of the Yes Men, all you need to know is that theyíre extremists of the most irrational kind. For a conservative like me, sitting through a feature-length film about their schtick is pretty much torture. I never saw the first Yes Men movie, and why I decided this second one would be an appropriate time killer during the South by Southwest Film Festival is beyond me. But I guess itís good to acquaint oneself with the political extremes every so often, only to be repelled. I got my dose of the hard right on my first day of the same festival when a cab driver pointed out New World Order alarmist Alex Jonesí street-side radio broadcast, so perhaps The Yes Men Fix the World was just life balancing itself out.

     The basic schtick: anti-globalism front-men Andy Bichlbaum and Mike Bonnano, who might describe themselves as activist jokesters, create fake websites for ďevilĒ corporations like Haliburton and wait for various business conference-groups and news channels to invite them to events at which they pretend to be executives for said corporations. In character, they usually convey their anti-capitalist sentiments by encouraging the corporate audiences to respond favorably to outrageously irresponsible remarks. The big stunt in The Yes Men Fix the World involves Andy posing as an exec for Dow Chemical and announcing the company will pay millions of dollars in compensation to the families of Indians who died or got injured in a chemical-leak 20 years ago at a factory operated by Union Carbide, now owned by Dow. The movie purports that this caused a massive stock dive for Dow and that most residents of the factory-town were ultimately happy with the stunt because it brought awareness to the issue, but who knows if this is actually the case? The momentary drop in share-price could be attributed to a number of things, although I donít doubt that the televised announcement had something to do with it. Additionally, Varietyís Leslie Felperin, among others, echoes my impression that the footage from India seems staged.

     Even though the Yes Men spend a lot of time congratulating themselves on a job well done at the end of the film and trying to convince viewers theyíve made a positive impact, itís hard to see any honor in their cause or their methods. While itís admittedly funny in a juvenile sense to watch them fool accomplished multi-millionaires, the stunts they pull are pretty deplorable. How many victims of the chemical-leak believed they would finally be compensated for their health problems or the death of their family members? (That is, if any of them actually saw the fake announcementóIím making a big leap of faith in taking Andy and Mikeís word that it was widely televised.) And, assuming the Yes Men indeed caused a dip in Dowís share-price, how many hardworking Americans did they force to sell stock at a loss? Because of the Yes Menís tactless approach and senselessly anti-capitalist agenda, itís hard to take even the few valuable things they have to say about corporate responsibility seriously. By comparison, Michael Moore seems like a rational, informed documentarian.

 

-Danny Baldwin, Bucket Reviews

Review Published on: 3.22.2009

Screened on: 3.16.2009 at the Paramount Theatre in Austin, TX.

 

The Yes Men Fix the World is Not Rated and runs 87 minutes.


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