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REVIEW | Effective Optimism: Andy Bichlbaum and Mike Bonanno’s “The Yes Men Fix The World”

REVIEW | Effective Optimism: Andy Bichlbaum and Mike Bonanno's "The Yes Men Fix The World"

EDITOR’S NOTE: This review was original published as part of indieWIRE’s coverage of the 2009 Sundance Film Festival. “The Yes Men Fix The World” opens this Wednesday in theaters.

Fans of corporate satirists “The Yes Men” from their self-titled 2003 debut documentary will get a kick out of their sincerely amusing follow-up, “The Yes Men Fix the World.” Boosted by the promises of an Obama-led world, performance artists Jacques Servin and Igor Vamos continue their prankish routine of pretending to be representatives of global businesses and speaking the ugly truth of free market motives to anyone gullible enough to pay attention.

This time around, targets include Dow’s neglect of poor living conditions in Bhopal, Exxon Mobile’s poor management of its employees’ health conditions, and Haliburton. As always, the Yes Men get away with their gimmicks by letting others (ie, duped members of the media and real companies) invite them to speak. In the movie, the behind-the-scenes details round out their ambition. Although at times the movie feels somewhat formless, with a series of nonfiction sketches replacing the need for plot, the Yes Men retain an unmistakable charm by marrying their trickiness with strong convictions about improving the conditions of the globe. By operating under the guise of certain characters — rather than blatantly moralizing — they avoid the abrasiveness of Michael Moore and his ilk. The movie culminates with the duo’s effective (and very recent) distribution of a fake New York Times issue predicting a utopian future six months away (“Iraq War Ends,” declared one prominent headline). Unlike other globally situated documentaries, “The Yes Men Fix the World” has the guts to display some optimism about the future.

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