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Review: 'The Yes Men Are Revolting'

Using thrift shop suits and a press famished for feed, the Yes Men continue their crusade.
YES, SIR: Using thrift shop suits and a press famished for feed, the Yes Men continue their crusade.

Political performance artists Andy Bichlbaum and Mike Bonanno (nee Igor Vamos) star in The Yes Men Are Revolting. The film asks two questions. First: whither, the aging prankster? And second: whether these two colleagues, who once took Dow Chemical's stock down 3 points with their fibs, can survive without each other?

Both are academics now. Bonanno is in Scotland with his wife and two children. Bichlbaum, who is gay, is trying to hold on to a relationship, endangered by his crusade. The Yes Men seek to warn people of global warming. They visit Alberta, scraped bloody by shale oil developers, and northern Uganda, being dried up by climate change. As the Arctic dissolves, the melt contributes to Hurricane Sandy, the wreckage of which is toured by the Bonnano and Bichlbaum.

What can be done, except to perform the same pranks in a new way? The Yes Men Are Revolting highlights the rotten life of a mainstream political journalist, nodding and scribbling at the same awful presser, listening to some undersecretary of something from the U.S. Chamber of Commerce. (Too few realize these lobbyists from the Chamber are not affiliated with the U.S. government, except in the sense that the Chamber owns said government.)

The film shows what happens when a Yes Men action fails. In Amsterdam, they stage a publicity event. They pose as the grossly polluting, Putin-backed Russian oil company Gazprom gifting a polar bear to the local zoo, with the bear being two guys in a bear suit. The moral: a prankster must get the best actors ever. In the finale, they have a fine one, Tito Ybarra as "Chief Four Feathers" inducing defense contractors and U.S. military higher-ups to join in "a New Thanksgiving" celebration—a traditional Native American circle dance in favor of wind power.

The film reveals the Yes Men's self-congratulatory side. And there is a bit of ordinary showbiz biopic tactics in the way this documentary is shaped, with its estrangement and final reconciliation. But the Yes Men are certainly brave—or at least brazen—and whatever their methods, they're bringing news that the average person can use.

The Yes Men Are Revolting

R; 91 Mins


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