A movie review of “The Yes Men are Revolting”: Yes, we have the Yes Men, a puckish pair of pranksters who, for this film, have global warming in their sights. Rating: 2.5 stars out of 4.
Yes, we have spoofs. Yes, we have hoaxes. Yes, we have people blundering around and falling down in a polar-bear costume while onlookers look on in bewilderment.
Yes, we have the Yes Men, Andy Bichlbaum and Mike Bonanno, a puckish pair of 40-something pranksters who have made it their life’s mission to tweak the rich and powerful with cleverly conceived and generally funny stunts designed to highlight corporate and governmental hypocrisy.
Their weapons of choice are fake websites that mimic real corporate and governmental sites where they put across their contrarian messages, and bogus news conferences where they present themselves to credulous reporters as spokesmen for various official entities like the World Trade Organization and the U.S. Chamber of Commerce.
Movie Review ★★½
‘The Yes Men are Revolting,’ with Andy Bichlbaum, Mike Bonanno. Directed by Bichlbaum, Bonanno and Laura Nix. 91 minutes. Not rated; for mature audiences (language and mature themes). SIFF Cinema Uptown.
In their first documentary, 2003’s “The Yes Men,” they targeted the WTO in the wake of the Seattle street protests against that organization. In their latest picture, “The Yes Men are Revolting,” they have global warming in their sights. (Hence the live-action polar-bear-suit stunt, not to mention an animated segment showing a bear sinking, sinking, sinking into the warming waters of the Arctic as the beast’s ice floe melts away.)
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The pair view climate change as such a huge problem that it frankly tests their ability to find lighthearted ways to address it. Laughing at the apocalypse is hard work.
A strain of melancholy runs through “Revolting” as the men wonder if their prankish activism, which they’ve been pursuing since the late 1990s, has been worth it. It’s been hard on their relationships. There are issues of sexual orientation raised in the movie, and it’s interesting to watch how this pair — one gay, one straight — negotiate that.
Bichlbaum, who is gay, relates his boyfriend dumped him because he devoted too much time to his stunts. And Bonanno, who is straight, has been struggling to make a living to provide for his two young children. (Another was born during the making of the movie.)
The Occupy Wall Street movement reinvigorates their enthusiasm for their work. “Who knew that so many people felt like we do,” Bonanno says.
At the end, where they hoodwink a meeting of defense contractors into joining hands and dancing around the room, it’s clear their comic spark has not been extinguished.