This is one of those movies made for bleeding-heart liberals who complain when people are “taken advantage” of by corporations. “The Yes Men Fix the World” was made for hippies, revolutionaries, college students, and everyone else who hates America. You know who I’m talking about. In other words, Osama would love this movie. Do you really want to see a movie that Osama would love? I didn’t think so.
Okay, back to reality, Andy Bichlbaum and Mike Bonanno actually love America. They might not love watching Big Business manipulate the free market system and exploit poor people but they do love America. That’s why they do what they do. For those unfamiliar with the work of The Yes Men, here’s a quick description of what they do: they pull off incredible and hilarious pranks on giant corporations who they deem to be in need of some humiliation based on their business practices.
Those who enjoyed “The Yes Men” (2003) will enjoy seeing what the duo have been up since they took on the World Trade Organization. Following the release of their first film, Bichlbaum and Bonanno got to work on more hoaxes—this time, their targets were bigger, more powerful, and more likely to kill children for profit. Since 2003, The Yes Men have posed as representatives from companies such as Dow, Exxon, and Halliburton. Their hijinks have allowed them to appear on the BBC which has a built-in audience of over 300 million people. They’ve travelled to India to talk with those affected by the Bhopal gas plant explosion.
They also spoke at a “Housing Summit” in post-Katrina New Orleans filled with contractors and a couple politicians (Ray Nagin, Mayor of New Orleans, and Kathleen Blanco, Governor of Louisiana) who only agreed to appear when they heard that the HUD (US Department of Housing and Urban Development) “representative” would be in attendance. Through their hoaxes, The Yes Men hope to shed light on the evils of corporate America and convince enough people to pull their heads out of the sand so that change can be made.
One of the most inspirational sections of the film follows The Yes Men as they participate in a culture jamming prank involving The New York Times. Over 1,000 activists got together and printed out their own version of The Times—dated July 4, 2009. The faux edition is filled with the headlines and stories that will hopefully be printed for real six months after Obama takes office. The front page reads “IRAQ WAR ENDS.” Other stories report on a Maximum Wage bill passing and an ex-Secretary apologizing for the W.M.D. scares. The Yes Men and associates are, at the very least, optimistic. Also, keep an eye out for indie-Goddess Lili Taylor who makes a cameo during the distribution of the “News We Hope to Print” edition.
The film follows the style used in their last release. Hidden camera footage intercuts with sometimes-humorous segments where the two men pretend to devise their plans. These fictional “re-enactments” are truly the weakest parts of the film. “Fix the World” attempts to make the rest of the film as interesting as the scams The Yes Men pull off. For the most part, they succeed. Minus the ineffective sections mentioned above, Bichlbaum and Bonanno have made another funny documentary with some important things to say.
Blending humor with political messages seems to have worked for some (did anyone see Variety’s tribute to John Stewart?) and the filmmakers have combined the two effectively. Throwing a pie in the face of Big Business looks really fun. If the current economic downturn didn’t have me hoarding all my pie, I’d throw one. If The Yes Men have their way, maybe I’ll get to toss a Key Lime or two on July 4th, 2009?