The Yes Men

From the makers of AMERICAN MOVIE comes this hilarious and frighteningly illuminating documentary about two gutsy pranksters who pose as representatives of the World Trade Organization and deliver outrageously bogus speeches at economic forums, advocating everything from slavery to the use of electric shocks to boost sweatshop productivity. Mike Bonanno...read more

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Reviewed by Ken Fox
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From the makers of AMERICAN MOVIE comes this hilarious and frighteningly illuminating documentary about two gutsy pranksters who pose as representatives of the World Trade Organization and deliver outrageously bogus speeches at economic forums, advocating everything from slavery to the use of electric shocks to boost sweatshop productivity. Mike Bonanno and Andy Bichlbaum belong to the Yes Men, a mischievous group of antiglobalization activists who engage in what they call "identity correction." They assume the identities of such "evildoers" as WTO officials, unravel their doublespeak and say in plain language what the organization's trade policies really mean to the developing countries they cynically claim to help. Mike and Andy, who launched a successful George W. Bush spoof site during his first presidential campaign, were subsequently contacted by the owner of the www.gatt.org URL, who wondered whether they'd be interested in creating a site parodying the WTO. The results proved so convincing that Mike and Andy found themselves fielding questions about tariffs and free trade, then accepting invitations to speak on the WTO's behalf at conferences all over the world. Filmmakers Chris Smith, Dan Ollman and Sarah Price catch up with the Yes Men fresh off a successful prank in Salzburg, where Andy — posing as Dr. Andreas Bichlbauer — proposed an online auction site for people looking to sell their vote to the highest bidder. Next stop, Finland, where "Hank Hardy Unruh" will preview the WTO's newest innovation: a skintight, gold-lamé suit equipped with a gigantic video-phallus through which overseers can monitor workers from a remote location. With a simple zap to the electrode implanted in the delinquent wage slave's shoulder, nonproductive behavior is quickly corrected. The really shocking thing is that no one at the conference so much as flinches. Their nonreaction begs an important question: How far will corporations be allowed to go in the mad pursuit of profit? Happily, not every audience is so numb to outrage. When the Yes Men visit Plattsburgh, NY, to talk about the WTO-McDonald's joint venture to sell recycled Big Macs to the Third World as "ReBurgers" — poopy patties on a bun — students hiss, gag, object and storm out. An even more heartening moment comes in Australia, after Mike and Andy announce to a roomful of CPAs that the WTO can no longer continue to operate with so little concern for the poor and has decided to disband. Everyone interviewed afterward seemed genuinely happy about it. Not to be missed.

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  • Released: 2004
  • Rating: R
  • Review: From the makers of AMERICAN MOVIE comes this hilarious and frighteningly illuminating documentary about two gutsy pranksters who pose as representatives of the World Trade Organization and deliver outrageously bogus speeches at economic forums, advocating… (more)

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