After Michael Moore’s bland and predictable Capitalism: A Love Story, watching The Yes Men Fix The World is like inhaling a breath of fresh, unpolluted air. Starring the merry pranksters better known as Andy Bichlbaum and Mike Bonanno, and co-directed by them alongside Kurt Engfehr (better known as Michael Moore’s editor on The Awful Truth, Bowling for Columbine and Fahrenheit 9/11), the doc is a thrilling travelogue through the global free enterprise system. That our guides Bichlbaum and Bonnano happen to be both hilariously subversive and downright ingenious in their tactics (“What we do is pass ourselves off as representatives of big corporations we don’t like. We make fake websites, then wait for people to accidentally invite us to conferences,” declares one of the Yes Men at the start) exposes not just corporate malfeasance but their colleague Moore’s own small-mindedness. While Moore with his one-dimensional thinking is content to point the finger, sit back and assign blame in lieu of doing the tough job of searching for workable solutions, the Yes Men—with their shock-and-awe, 3D-animated fake presentations—are proactive Robin Hoods. And, bouncing about in their “Halliburton SurvivaBall” suits, they’re a hell of a lot more entertaining.
Mike Bonanno (#1–10 of 2)
Returning for a second feature-length tilt at gleefully executing anti-corporate hoaxes, Andy Bichlbaum and Mike Bonanno follow up the inflatable penis suit and feces-generated fast food of The Yes Men with a little more showbiz (staged comic interludes in their debris-filled “underground headquarters”) to prank unsuspecting business conferees with fraudulent rollouts of a bulbous rubber survival cocoon (ostensibly from Halliburton) and a new energy source: candles made from the flesh of a gallant, industrially-poisoned Exxon janitor. Proving repeatedly that a passable wardrobe and camera-ready clichés can get them into any chair normally reserved for experts and bureaucrats, the Yes Men most satisfyingly bring temporary but unaccustomed chaos through a BBC News interview where Bichlbaum’s offer of Dow Chemical billions to treat victims of the 1984 Bhopal chemical disaster sends the company’s stock plunging; the post-catastrophic “SurvivaBall” garb draws straight-faced questions about marketability and long-term wear; and a New York Times print parody exploits Obama-victory ecstasy by trumpeting headlines of instant Iraq withdrawal and sweeping progressive reforms. (This climactic project, though accurately conceived and read as a “dream paper,” may have dated fastest of all.)