The Yes Men Fix The World

The Yes Men Fix The World


Reviewed by: Jennie Kermode

Have you ever looked at the world, observed all the ways in which it's broken, and wanted to fix it? Andy Bichlbaum and Mike Bonanno felt that way, so they decided to do something about it. Deciding that big corporations and corrupt government agencies were never going to take responsibility and right the various wrongs they'd done, they decided to do it for them.

You may have heard of The Yes Men before. Every now and again they pop up on the news after having pulled off a particularly impressive hoax, often to be faced with accusations that they've cruelly created false hope in vulnerable people who might briefly have believed they were going to be treated fairly - sometimes with little attention paid to the original unfairness. Yet they insist that they have always been supported by those people, and part of the purpose of this documentary is to put their side of the story.

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It's also an opportunity for them to show off some of the more spectacular stunts they've briefly got away with, and to share their horror at the fact that this should be so. That is, a major part of their modus operandi is to take callous profiteering policy ideas to extremes and present them at conferences in the hope of getting attendees to think about the harm real policies do - but all too often their ideas are accepted and even cheered - even when they involve skeletons, even when they suggest burning human flesh, even when they cite Hitler.

Taking us with them on their journey through the corporate world, The Yes Men present a social environment where popular morality has come unstuck, and where the natural human tendency to go along with whatever everyone else seems to be doing has led to more and more extreme, exploitative behaviour. It's a revealing study. The style of the piece is very simple and that might make viewers just a touch wary - these are, after all, accomplished con men of a sort, who might easily have made a more polished project, so are we too being presented with just what we want to believe? Yet there's no denying that they make some good points, well substantiated with damning words straight from the horse's mouth.

The other thing that makes this documentary different is that it doesn't just tell us how bad things are - it suggests things we might do about it. The Yes Men are doggedly optimistic, determined to reclaim democracy by hook or, well, by crook. Many viewers will find this inspiring and it also gives the film more energy and entertainment value than others of its ilk.

Reviewed on: 03 Aug 2009
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A documentary about two friends who put on suits and pretend to be senior corporate figures in order to try and set the world to rights.
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Director: Andy Bichlbaum, Mike Bonanno, Kurt Engfehr

Writer: Andy Bichlbaum, Mike Bonanno

Starring: Andy Bichlbaum, Mike Bonanno

Year: 2009

Runtime: 87 minutes

BBFC: 12 - Age Restricted

Country: France, USA

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