The Yes Men Series
The Yes Men (December 13/13)
Directed by Dan Ollman, Sarah Price, and Chris Smith, The Yes Men follows the title anarchists, Mike Bonanno and Andy Bichlbaum, as they wreak havoc within the corporate world by pretending to be spokesmen for the World Trade Organization. It's clear right from the get-go that the filmmakers don't have a solid plan for bringing the Yes Men's story to the big screen, as the movie, for the most part, unfolds in as haphazard and uneven a manner as one could possibly have envisioned - with the most obvious problem here a complete and utter lack of background history on Bonanno and Bichlbaum (ie what drives these guys? why are they doing this? when did they start? etc, etc). Ollman, Price, and Smith instead offer up a languid look at the Yes Men's WTO-related shenanigans, with the effectiveness of these stretches diminished by the degree to which they've been padded out. There is, for example, a sequence wherein Bonanno and Bichlbaum arrive at a conference to speak about textiles, and although the punchline is admittedly quite entertaining, the directors dwell far too long on the title figures' initial arrival at said conference and their eventual presentation to bored attendees. (The latter just seems to go on and on and on.) It's not surprising to note that the impact of Bonanno and Bichlbaum's exploits are, as a result, severely diminished, which is a shame, to be sure, given the agreeably absurd nature of some of their pranks (eg one can't help but get a kick out of the pair's proposal that third-world residents consume "recycled" hamburgers). The end result is a relentlessly erratic documentary that barely seems to scratch the surface of the Yes Men's modus operandi, and it's ultimately clear that the movie would've benefited from a much more skilled filmmaker at the helm.
The Yes Men Fix the World
The Yes Men, Mike Bonanno and Andy Bichlbaum, return in this documentary detailing more of their troublemaking exploits, with the movie featuring such outrageous stunts as the Survivaball, an absurdly oversized contraption that protects the wearer from various disasters, and the creation of a fake New York Times newspaper that's overflowing with wish-fulfillment headlines (including "Iraq War Ends" and "Court Indicts Bush on High Treason Charge"). Filmmakers Bonanno and Bichlbaum have infused The Yes Men Fix the World with a fast-paced and lighthearted sensibility that proves an ideal match for their off-the-wall shenanigans, and although the duo's continued use of reenactments is, to put it mildly, unnecessary and distracting, the film remains perfectly watchable for the majority of its appreciatively brief running time. There's little doubt, however, that certain segments of the movie fare better than others, with Bichlbaum's successful efforts at appearing on the BBC as a spokesman for Dow Chemical certainly standing as an engrossing (and eye-opening) highlight in the proceedings. The movie's episodic bent does ensure that The Yes Men Fix the World grows increasingly repetitive as it progresses, unfortunately, and it's clear that, even at a running time of 87 minutes, the film does wear out its welcome long before the end credits roll. It's disappointing, really, given the effectiveness of certain stretches and the importance of the movie's overall message, and it ultimately does seem obvious that both The Yes Men and The Yes Men Fix the World could (and should) have been edited down into one tight, streamlined documentary.