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a great seal on a wonderful year for documentaries (2004)
ShimmySnail6 December 2004
The Yes Men is a documentary about a group of anti-economic liberalization activists who have made a unique habit of impersonating the WTO and other right-wing organizations (including the George W. Bush presidential campaign) in talks and national media spots. They try to get noticed by the overblown repugnance of the right-wing plans they suggest for the world's poor. If Jonathan Swift's "A Modest Proposal" was a satirical short story about the rich literally devouring the impoverished, these guys are the long running Broadway adaptation.

Despite the release of the movie and many high profile performances, they still have not been properly outed, which is good for their continued success since still nobody recognizes them, but part of their aim is to get people who would normally listen to the WTO talk start thinking about globalization and its human consequences in the third world (poverty, hunger, pollution, disease, increased political and domestic violence, environmental destruction, and so on).

Since it's a documentary normally I wouldn't be lauding performances, but in this case, these guys do perform for their audience, and they are absolutely wonderful. They propose such things as recycling human waste to be made into McDonald's hamburgers to be sold in the third world. To see them advocating the employment of sweatshop workers because it's more humane than slavery and MUCH more cost effective (since "involuntarily relocated workers" require room and board at American rates and in the third world you can employ dozens for the same price and you don't have to look after their health or recoup the costs of transporting them overseas if they "escape"), while nobody listening bats an eye, is hilarious (if horrifying). They take the best of Michael Moore, The Corporation, and Supersize Me and sneak it in under the noses of the world's economic and academic elite at conferences on globalization.

I was lucky because the filming ended in 2002, but the proprietors of the theater where I saw it downloaded their latest prank off webcast, which featured a Yes Man impersonating a spokesman for Dow Chemicals speaking on the Bhopal massacre, which was easily equal to anything else they'd pulled off, and played it at the end of the movie.
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Anti-corporate activists gone wild!
FilmOtaku25 March 2005
I wasn't entirely sure what to expect from a documentary called "The Yes Men" that was directed by three people, but what I got was a really fun 80 minutes. The film follows a few members of the anti-corporate activist group (whose main target is the World Trade Organization) as they pull pranks in order to sabotage the large companies/organizations they disagree with. Pretty much what Michael Moore (who is featured for a few moments) does, only The Yes Men handle things in a different manner. Stemming from a situation in which they were mistaken for the World Trade Organization after someone viewed the satirical website they designed ABOUT the World Trade Organization, they accepted an offer to speak on behalf of the WTO at an International conference. Since then, they have made sporadic appearances on panels, in lectures, even on television representing the WTO, only obviously not spewing the WTO rhetoric, but inserting their own (most times offensive and outlandish) topics instead.

"The Yes Men" is not a great documentary, but I eat this kind of stuff right up because I find the concept of creative activism to be an intriguing one, and the way that these men are managing to infiltrate some of these organizations is not only amusing but really intelligent as well. The film is incredibly short, and personally, it left me wanting more, but I don't think there is a lot more that could be said about what they are doing that wasn't already succinctly addressed. I found the subject to be an interesting and increasingly relevant one, and the four featured Yes Men were hilarious and endearing. There wasn't a lot for me to dislike about the film, but it's not something I would recommend to a lot of people. Michael Moore fans would really dig it though. 7/10 --Shelly
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Very interesting, very funny.
walkenandtalken7 March 2005
The only other user comment as of 3.7.05 seems to be nothing more than a personal attack on the Yes Men, so I have disregarded it entirely.

The documentary is so funny I nearly had a coronary watching it.

It is very inspiring to see someone speaking publicly about the corruption of the WTO and the large corporations it represents.

The comparison of the historical form of slavery to the present state of some workers in the poorest countries is appropriate.

I can't wait for another documentary about the the Yes Men.

I had no idea that these guys were well organized, intelligent, and apparently well educated.

I salute their satire, and their courage.
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Truly amazing satire
victoriainmexico16 November 2010
Wow, to read the negative reviews on this site is a sad experience. (the positive ones are great of course). To realize how many people don't get the humor in this film -- it's just way over their heads, apparently (yes, even the brilliantly used "potty" humor) -- and to see how many Americans are sitting around criticizing the VERY FEW among us who are the most active, courageous, daring and funny . . . you people need to take a good look in the mirror.

What are YOU doing to expose the hideous corruption and lies and power imbalances endemic in our society? What are YOU doing to entertain people, to create really damn funny films on a small budget that inspire people to get off their asses and act? (and yes, the Yes Men films inspire a LOT of people).

Self proclaimed film critics are always among society's most useless and insipid, but in this case, the people griping at the Yes Men for not providing them with an activist film up to their personal standards need to seriously rethink the use of their time in this life.

Thank you, Mike and Andy, for giving us some huge laughs and showing us that even two regular guys can stir up the pot for the betterment of humanity.
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Hilarious, but scary...
steveturner2203 July 2004
Just saw this film last week as the closing night film of Human Rights Watch film festival.

These guys are crazy. They travel the globe acting like WTO officials to make their point that if you look like you are in charge, you can say and do whatever you like.

Really got the audience fired up (although was a preaching to the choir a bit since it was a human rights watch event.)

Anyhow - one of the directors and one of the yes men were there for the Q&A.

Was really interesting but went on a little.

The movie is more about the two guys and their adventures than the WTO - so you may want to do some research before you go or go to their site to get more info before seeing the movie.

Not revolutionary but worth the 90 minutes. Has some of the funniest moments I've seen in a long time.
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Hilarious documentary, may not be seen by public
the_segue8 March 2004
The Yes Men is a brilliant and hilarious documentary by the filmmakers of American Movie. I checked it out at last year's Toronto film festival.

The film centres around a small group of anti-globalization activists who went around the world posing as WTO representatives at major industry conferences. Their appalling presentations were often met with applause by world business leaders.

The only problem is that the documentarians mentioned they did not have promission to shoot what they were filming and thus are having a difficult time getting the rights to the images from the conferences they were at. It would be a real shame if The Yes Men was not allowed to be released in theatres.
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The Yes Men: I "Get it" I just don't like it
Platypuschow26 August 2017
It's admirable what these guys are doing, I fully understand their message and find their methods comical. The trouble is I just don't see this as entertainment or at least not the way it has been presented here.

These anti-corporate activists show the world what goes on behind closed doors and demonstrate how little these organisations care about the little man through shocking disgusting presentations designed to appal but instead get little reaction or even approval.

Again I understand I really do and I even get how this managed two sequels but from an entertainment stand point this simply doesn't have it.

I hope these guys continue their crusade and it would be a great to think they're at least raising awareness but I'll not be partaking in any more of their works.

The Good:

The message

The Bad:

The execution

They simply aren't likable

Lack of entertainment value

Things I learnt from this movie:

Nothing that I didn't know already
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Great documentary of a comical movement with serious agenda (and a disturbing manner of executing it)
eyal philippsborn12 July 2004
Imagine- you are a formidable investor, sitting on a Mahogany chair in your chambers and listening to the proposition of two young entrepreneurs to mass market a suit that looks like a star trek outfit with a tv-extension that is located in a very specific area of the body that IMDB reviewers tend to replace its name with signs like : *#@@$%. What would you do? Ask them politely to leave? Call security? Refer them to a Doctor?

Well, if you're one of the economic elite and those two young guys were representatives of the WTO, you would probably clap enthusiastically or, if you're a movie buff that realizes that what he watches really happened, you'd clinch your abdomen so it won't burst from laughing.

As it turns out, what ended as probably the most effective campaign against globalization, started with two guys that had plenty of spare time and very little or no will to grow up. They started an anti-bush site and it got enough resonance to encourage them to design yet another satirical site. This time, about the WTO, an organization that is considered by many (present company EXCLUDED) to be a ruthless organization that its only cause is to weaken developing countries by making them the sweatshop for wealthy corporations.

The "problem" (it turned out to be its greatest virtue) of that site was that it resembled in appearance to the WTO site. As a result, many sent inquiries regarding the WTO to the duo who, up until than, dealt with slightly minor economical dilemmas such as how many pizza toppings to order.

From then on, the sky was the limit. One of the site owners was requested to debate in a CNBC program as a representative of the WTO in favor of the globalization where he stated, with impressive eloquence, deliberately idiotic arguments in favor of the globalization.

The next two years were spent by the duo for making a crusade (which looked like it was taken out of a Monty Python movie) promoting ridiculous notions (like the idea I mentioned in the beginning of this review) to distinguished members of the business community. The Funny/Tragic (depends on the outlook) was that in most places, they had received accolades for their "initiatives" simply because they were mistaken for WTO representatives.

The movie accompanies those two crusaders lobbying against the WTO by impersonating to be its avid supporters and "exposing" its absurdity. I put parenthesis in -exposing because, as its greatest objectors, the duo never raises legitimate arguments in favor of the globalization and deliberately mocks the WTO by proposing horrific solutions to world problems on the WTO's behalf.

That issue is a very disturbing issue because even if I did support their views, I would find it unnerving to be an advocate of a slanderous attack- disguised as satire- disguised as pro WTO activity.

I choose not to debate the issue because the movie creators made the same choice. This movie's perspective is the premise that Globalization is bad and once this point is clear, the movie can switch to lighter note and becomes a light documentary that was funnier than any fictional Hollywood film I've seen in years.

Maybe I should approach this review on a lighter note and instead of dealing with the ethical aspect of the duo's actions, I can just tell you that this film will be fun even if you're not used to see documentary films on the silver screen and as an anarchistic comedy that REALLY HAPPENED, this film is well worth leaving your kids at your parents' house for 80 minutes or so. As long as you don't make a foolish mistake such as taking anything in this film, seriously.

9 out of 10 in my FilmOmeter.
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Affirmitive Action
tieman6416 November 2011
Warning: Spoilers
"The Yes Men" and "The Yes Men Fix The World" are a pair of documentary comedies which follow the exploits of the Yes Men, a group of "culture jammers" who impersonate the identities of those they dislike and engage in "identity correction", a process in which they either behave as the entity really would behave were it not socially bound to maintain some modicum of civility, or behave as the entity would behave were it ethically responsible. In other words, the Yes Men are a group of socially conscious activists who engage in pranks. They con their way into various situations and satirically pretend to be various corporate heads, politicians, bureaucrats and world shakers. Most of their satire flies over the heads of their audiences.

And so the two films find the Yes Men pointing out the unethical practises of Dow Chemical, BP, ExxonMobile, Milton Friedman cultists, the world trade organisation, the New York Times, the US Chamber of Commerce, various environmental bodies, various bastions of commerce, various media corporations, and various bodies responsible for the post hurricane Katrina clean up.

Most of their pranks start with a fake website, such as their mock website of the World Trade Organisation, which despite being ridiculously blunt about the WTO's unethical practises garnered the Yes Men an invitation to speak at an official occasion. Once in, the Yes Men's representatives then caused havoc before unsuspecting audiences. Thanks to global media, their actions were carried out in full public glare. Other Yes Men stunts involve delineating the principles of free trade by taking such principles to their logical conclusions. Elsewhere they put forward arguments for selling votes to the highest corporate bidder, making the poor eat feces to cure endemic hunger and allowing countries to commit human rights abuses with a system of "justice vouchers" modelled after pollution vouchers. Yet, shockingly, the Yes Men's audiences often show little difficulty in accepting the legitimacy of such ideas. At a CPA meeting (a group of accountants), for instance, the Yes Men exploited the credulity of their audiences by recruiting them into the elaborate fiction of a trade organisation governed by grotesque principles. The two films highlight not only how willingly the public accepts unethical behaviour, but how such behaviour, as it is intimately bound with concepts of success, has long been seen as an ideal to be pursued.

Because the Yes Men's cons are difficult to set up and execute, the two documentaries spend most of their time focusing on preparatory work. The actual pranks are few and far between, which will irk those looking for incessant humour. Compared to, say, "Punked", "Borat" or the "Jacka** Movies", these are slow films. Both films also fail to properly/intelligently explore that which the Yes Men rally against.

Interestingly, the Yes Men are shown without familial or romantic relationships. Their private personalities are not delved into and they seem androgynous and almost ascetic. Their first two pranks, we learn, involved inserting homosexual activity into a computer game and inserting masculine, warrior voices into female dolls. Their gender-bending, a kind of monastic selflessness coupled to chameleon like amorphousness, echoes the impersonal flux of global capitalism. In theory, they're a parasite which can permeate any situation and counter-bend as readily as capitalism can. In practise, this is perhaps impossible. Even detrimental to their health.

While some view the Yes Men as a needed, new breed of activism - of spirituality even - most view them as a mild annoyance engaging in futile efforts. For some theorists, culture and counter-culture are barely distinguishable in an all-pervasive, global culture too ready to incorporate the anti-gesture. Culture jamming, some believe, is rapidly losing political force and the capacity to generate new cultural images and values. On the flip side, the force of the Yes Men's prank comedy lies in the fact that it rises above the abstemious moment of critique and the seemingly noble aim of "enlightening people" and in so doing takes us onto another register. In a time in which global capitalism has such a monopoly on what can be thought, their task seems to be that of enabling something genuinely new to be thought. Their whole image is based on a recognition that affirmation, rather than refusal, is a novel political strategy.

8/10 – Worth one viewing.
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The stupidity of corporations revealed...
film-critic25 February 2005
After the birth of Fahrenheit 9/11 and other Michael Moore creations, there has been a plethora of politically driven documentaries entering the media culture. More and more films are being created to showcase either the ingenuity of the activists, or to uncover some unknown corruption in the system that we were not familiar with. It is a chance to be educated about the world surrounding us and the honesty of evil. In one of the most recent documentary releases, The Yes Men, we have the opportunity to both see the ingenuity of the activists and slightly uncover some corruption in the world. While The Yes Men is a very active film giving us these nervous moments of tension as two men pretend to be someone that they are not, the words and final moments that they are trying to convey do not always seem to come full circle. It felt as if they had this huge "ta-da" at the end of their crafty moment, but nobody seemed to care. Everyone agreed and went about their normal business. I guess that was the point that these activists were trying to show, but somehow I felt like it was all a part of some lackluster performance instead of this "in-your-face, this is wrong with our country" moment.

Our two main characters that we follow throughout the course of the film, Mike Bonanno and Dr. Andreas Bichlbauer (as if these are their real names), seem like they have such a grasp on their knowledge of the issues that they would want a bigger change to happen at the end of their "moment of glory" instead of just walking away as if they were just another cog in the machine. For example, their first speech overseas about the WTO and this phallic device that will help supervisors maintain their workers was a punch in the face, but like my reaction to the situation, nobody seemed to care. I think, in this case, it hurt the film. I wanted feedback from the audience about this bold move by the WTO and see outrage in their eyes, but instead nobody seemed to care. The same can be said about the last conference they attend where they officially close the WTO. That is a huge statement, and yet again … nobody seemed to care. Sure, there were people afterwords talking about how happy they were, but the excitement or emotion was just not present. I wanted, and honestly needed, something that showed that these activists were making riffs in the corporate eyes of the world, not just filling a time slot.

The only time that they did not get such a passive response was when they spoke during a college class about the food solution in third world countries. Here, we did see the emotion and the anger at what they suggested, albeit was a bit more graphic and disturbing, but there was an outburst at the idea. The only trouble is that I have been to conferences before, and most of the time you are there because your business has forced you to be there, so you will believe anything that is said until the day is over just to get through. In college, you pay for your schooling so independent thought really is encouraged and is shown in this film. I do not think that this college scene did the justice that it deserved and really didn't seem to mesh with the rest of the film. I think these guys wanted to get some raw emotion reactions from anyone, and they found it here. I think they were trying to overcompensate for what their other conferences were missing. Sadly, it felt more like a jumbled mess instead of a valued point.

Overall, I was somewhat impressed with some of the aspects of this film, while not impressed with others. I thought the fact that these two "nobodys" could get into these conferences without a lick of accreditation or background check. Especially after the world's security tightened after 9/11. I think that was the aspect that shocked me the most. The rest of the film was interesting to watch, it just never felt like it was edited together correctly or that there was this big "ooooohhhhhh……ahhhhhhhhh" sort of moments. Like the audiences at the conferences, I sat back and watched without really seeing the outcome of their work. I would have liked to know more about these guys and the changes they made to our global community. I would have liked to see at least one curmudgeon old man getting angry about what these two radicals thought, but nothing. Just plain agreement and wipe the slate clean. I felt the Yes Men focused to deeply on the development of each situation without having any sort of strong follow-up with the results. That hurt this film deeply. Perhaps I have grown accustomed to the "shock-umentary" style of film-making that is being released more and more, but I just never felt passionate about these guys. They were doing good work, but will it be remembered for years to come? I am not 100% sold on it yet.

Grade: *** out of *****
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Satirical misfire
Solipsisticblog5 July 2006
Warning: Spoilers
It's "Jackass" meets "The Awful Truth"--the Michael Moore television show, not the Cary Grant/Irene Dunn farce. Two pranksters who want to make the WTO look foolish, go around the world speaking at small engagements--a CPA conference in Australia, a college classroom--pretending to be reps of the WTO. They present outlandish presentations that are meant to shine light on the injustice of the trade organization.

The documentary, unfortunately, does not really tell us why the WTO is evil so the pranks never feel justified. The pranksters are reluctant and soft-spoken and make themselves look more foolish than the WTO. For instance, when speaking to the college students, the pranksters present a WTO-endorsed plan to recycle human waste and turn it into to hamburgers. This is supposed to make the WTO look bad, but really just invites ridicule toward the speakers.

Has the WTO actually planned on feeding reconstituted human waste to people? Of course not, so the satire does not work. Satire is truth caricatured in order to critique, but the object of ridicule in the film--the WTO--is never really explained or defined. As a result, the pranks are aimless and fail completely as satire.

Skip this one. The good blurbs on the cover are inexplicable. It reminds me of the critical praise given to "Bulworth" and "Dogma," both poorly directed, but praised because critics supported the message of the films.

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personal mission gets major leverage
conannz25 July 2004
This shows how some of the bizarre scripts written by well meaning but now largely irrelevant organisations have been become so muddled that many of the audience don't realize the joke is on them. With a few notable exceptions the America we see on our daily news has had an irony bypass already and forget satire so it is great to learn that the artform is not lost by the Yes Men.

NZ's very own former PM and trade minister most famous for "lamb burgers" and (sincerely convinced WTOer) Mike Moore gets a photo shot early in the film when a WTO site is shown. He is followed closely by the other Mike Moore who is much better known but wasn't really needed in the film.

The remote workers viewing device (phallus) had our festival audience in apoplexy and deserves to be shown widely especially the animated sections.

On the whole though it was refreshing to think that a few clever protests with careful thought and some talented execution can create ripples on the pond so wide that millions of people have now seen the echoes in a media format somewhere near them.

In a world where individual action often seems puny it was great to see it is still possible to be funny and absolutely relevant and tactical without being boring.
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Toilet humor
SnorriGodhi30 May 2006
Going to see this movie, I expected to disagree with its message, but I wanted to know how easily one can fool top trade negotiators, and hoped to laugh at some funny pranks. I was wrong on all three counts.

First of all, there is nothing to disagree with, because the movie contains a single claim of any political relevance: apparently, trade agreements have reduced the power of governments (but how could an international agreement fail to restrain governments?). Actually, this claim is of interest for what it says about the anti-globalization movement: they take to the streets to increase the power of the State. We have come a long way since 1968!

There is also a guest appearance by Michael Moore, but he does not have anything relevant to contribute, apart from a self-satisfied smirk. Not surprisingly, there is no mention of the intellectual father of anti-globalization: Benito Mussolini.

Second, the Yes Men did not go anywhere near top trade negotiators. In fact, I am not sure that they went anywhere near anybody who knows what the WTO is supposed to do (not that it manages to do much, but that's another issue). More on this later.

So the only thing to discuss is the entertainment value. Part of the movie is reality TV: we watch the Yes Men as they get up late, get a costume manufactured, change clothes in a toilet, etc. Eventually, we get to see the first prank at a conference in Finland. Here, the Yes Men deliver a lecture, pretending to be from the WTO. The lecture starts by addressing an academic question about slavery (note to those who never heard the question before: Adam Smith addressed it in 1776); and ends with a pathetic attempt at a visual gag. The pained expressions of members of the audience suggest that they, like me, were just hoping that it would be over as soon as possible. The Yes Men take the silence of the audience as a sign of stupidity. It does not occur to them that maybe the prank is just not funny.

We are not told who were those people in Finland, but one thing is clear: they were not top trade negotiators. If they were, they would not go to a conference whose organizers confuse the Yes Men with the WTO.

But there is a deeper problem: according to the Yes Men's lecture, the WTO is devoted to developing gadgets. Now here is the Catch-22: if the audience were taken in, then they do not know anything about the WTO; if they were not taken in, then the Yes Men made fools of themselves.

There are a couple of other pranks. One is at the expense of a college class. This prank managed to make me smile, but I do not recommend watching it on a full stomach. This time we know for a fact that the students were taken in. They, too, believe that the WTO is devoted to technical development. Not a good advertisement for the college.

Finally, the Yes Men persuade an Australian chamber of commerce (or was it a news conference in Australia? I can't remember, and the movie web site doesn't say) that the WTO is closing down. The concept is pretty bold, actually it should have been the best prank in the movie, but it falls short because we do not get to see the targets of the prank when they realize that they have been taken in.

Members of the chamber of commerce (or whatever) were interviewed while still under the impression that the WTO was really closing down, and they seem to think that it is a good idea to do so. This is surprising enough for me to give an extra star to this movie. But what do they think is wrong with the WTO? Their answers do not go beyond banalities, which is a pity. So much more of a pity, since there will never be another chance to ask them.

In conclusion: If you want to know more about "globalization", do not waste time on this movie. If you just want to see some funny pranks, then see "Amici Miei" (1975): too cynical for some people, but at least there is something to laugh about, and even the toilet humor manages to be funny.
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the oh no doco
the_crock3 August 2005
I saw the Yes men recently, a documentary about guys who essentially pretend to be from the World Trade Organisation and then pull funny stunts in order to prove that the World Trade Organisation is an evil empire.

Shame it's a really tedious documentary, I mean you had all the elements of a great documentary, guys with inflatable wands, telling a bunch of uni students they are planning to feed third world countries with first world feces. I mean come on, how could you make a documentary like that boring.

Well firstly, you would show the two main protagonists in various apartments for most of the movie. Also you could make sure that you end on a really slow note, taking as much enjoyment out of the inflatable wand as possible. And maybe, just maybe, you could show an amazing amount of people in lifts and walking.

Nick Broomfield and Michael Moore this isn't.
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wtf wto?
jerome_horwitz23 December 2005
Warning: Spoilers
The Yes Men is a documentary of a group of pranksters who falsely assume the identities of World Trade Organization officials. The purpose of the group, The Yes Men, is to point out the lack of humanitarianism exhibited by those interested in world politics.

The Yes Men are invited to speak at different functions around the globe masquerading as legitimate W.T.O. officials. To make they're point The Yes Men produce totally absurd concepts and presentations.

The first conference covers how the W.T.O. views the future of the textile industry. The Yes Men come up with a concept for a business leisure suit. During the presentation, animations and an actual prototype suit worn by the fake speaker are used to demonstrate the possibilities. Describing the suit, it's shiny gold and skin tight, and has a large phallus shaped groin attachment which has a TV screen on it so a manager can monitor employees and stimulate them as necessary, all while doing leisure (aka "freedom") time activities. Unfortunately the audience at this conference doesn't appear to react at all to this totally absurd concept especially to the idea the poor workers need constant monitoring, and the wealthy management simply must have more leisure availability. It's like this is completely normal!

The Yes Men next present a fake W.T.O. lecture on recycled feces burgers at a college in the U.S.A. Fortunately they finally meet some resistance to these outlandish ideas. One may wonder if this same concept had been introduced at the prior conference how would those people have reacted? This movie is a commentary on the current state of world trade, and how corporations run everything.

The last conference has The Yes Men declaring the W.T.O. will be dissolving itself, basically due to it's inability to keep a humanitarian view regarding trade policies. The ironic thing is in post conference interviews, many of the attendees seem to agree with these basic self-accusations brought on by the W.T.O., against itself. One may wonder what happened to these folks that were duped, and how they're comments about a fake dissolving may have affected their lives personally or professionally?

This movies is enjoyable as a satirical comedy with a message. However, we really don't learn that much about the details of these trade problems. Also as fun as it is to blame corporations. Corporations are run by people, and so is the W.T.O., and so are governments. Seems to me maybe they're focusing on the wrong problem.

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absolute drivel. read this!
weemikey12 February 2005
absolute drivel. sadly this amateurish 'documentary' (for it is nothing more than a couple of middle class American boys jetting around Europe acting like teenagers) opened the Glasgow world film festival. the two makers were present to answer questions on the film, not after the screening as one would expect but before it saying that they couldn't make it after the film. i wonder why? the part in the film where they arrived in Finland an hour late due to their americanised thinking (or is that an oxymoron?) that all of Europe works on the one time zone sums them up in terms of intellectual capacity. complete idiots who have jumped on the Michael Moore polemic bandwagon and managed to record with the help of camcorder guerrillas (or is that gorillas?) a mere eighty minutes of mostly this pair of muppets cutting their hair, touching their balls, and drinking coffee. it is people like these who instead of offering a solution to the corporate ills of the world actually contribute towards them. the film has as much substance and integrity as a string vest, and as much coherence as the back room at oxfam. makes that fat guzzler Moore look good. should be renamed the muppet show.
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Just say "No" to "The Yes Men"
roland-10423 November 2005
"The Yes Men" co-director, Chris Smith, created possibly the funniest documentary movie I've ever seen, "American Movie" (2000), about a zany character named Mark Borchardt, himself an amateur filmmaker and world class natural slacker comedian.

Smith's next (and most recent) film was "Home Movie" (2002), a disappointing study of five eccentric houses and the people who created and lived in them. That film proved it was Borchardt, not Smith, who made the earlier film so good, and that when it comes to probing the lives of unusual people, Smith is no Errol Morris. Now, with help, Smith takes a different tack, entering the fast paced, highly competitive world of "polidocs": documentaries about hot political and social issues, a burgeoning film genre these days.

The Yes Men are an actual group of prankster geopolitical activists, led by Andy Bichlbaum and Mike Bonanno, who oppose the Bush Administration and the current trends in global trade regulation and the WTO, which, they and many other critics assert, exploit developing nations to make rich countries richer.

The Yes Men group has maintained a website with a domain name close to that used by President Bush as his official website. On The Yes Men's site, they have posted many items that are sufficiently critical of the Administration that Bush operatives tried to bluff these fellows into removing the site. The Yes Men have also succeeded in sending representatives to speak at international trade conferences, masquerading as official representatives of the WTO and getting away with it.

Actually, they always use the same man, Andy Bichlbaum, as speaker, but he uses a variety of humorous aliases. His top performance to date was one in Finland, where he removed a carefully constructed pull away business suit, to reveal a shiny gilt colored superhero suit underneath, replete with a three foot long "penis," also covered in the same shiny gold fabric, enlarged at the tip (OK, glans to be anatomically precise) to encompass a small TV screen. This suit was proposed by Andy as a useful work costume for a third world sweatshop superintendent, enabling him to efficiently watch over the work force using video.

What amuses is the way that Andy gets away with making outrageous statements (always delivered in deadpan, serious mode), and even pulling off appearing in his soft porn spacesuit getup before audiences of professional accountants, corporate officers and government ministry types, who take him seriously!

When he tried the same stunt with an audience of college students in Plattsburg, New York, they caught on to his artifice quickly. So, does this mean that people who attend international trade-related conferences actually don't listen to the speakers? Do language barriers get in the way? Or are those people more gullible or hip than the rest of us? Who can tell?

I found this film mildly funny but crippled by its superficiality of content and sloppy editing. Not only is no effort made to elucidate the issues of world trade problems, there isn't even an attempt at coherent presentation of the anti-WTO position. To my surprise, this film was the Audience Award Winner at the 2004 International Documentary Film Festival in Amsterdam. My rating: 5.5/10 (C+). (Seen on 12/19/04). If you'd like to read more of my reviews, send me a message for directions to my websites.
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Saw this brilliant film at Berlin film festival legal issues appeared covered
janegronland30 June 2004
I saw this hilarious and very entertaining film at the Berlin Film Festival in February of this year. Very refreshing look at the 'WTO' and its side kicks from an inside point of view. A subversive political documentary with a sense of humour in the vein of 'Bowling for Columbine'. All the travel, costuming and filming were done with the smallest budget and the 'actors' just two guys who want to reveal a few things about how stuff gets done in the US of A! During the Q and A someone asked a question about the legality of using some of the clips and whether they had permission to film the conferences.

It was clear that all these issues had been covered and the film releases this autumn in Europe as far as I know.
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Likeable Lads Take On Big Business
JohnnyLee18 April 2018
Two likeable lads take on the big corporations. I loved the team that put this whole satire/show together. Their audacity is wonderful. What is missing though is more context/background to the activities of the WTO and the horrible outcomes of these activities. This would have given The Yes Men's antics more impact. Including Michael Moore footage not enough. Kudos to Herb Alpert for supporting the group. I take it they were serious about this?
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Expectations Come Up Very Short
kylehodgdon27 March 2010
Warning: Spoilers
When I initially heard about this documentary, I thought that it would be, first and foremost, really funny. However, I felt that almost all of the humor in this movie falls as flat as their body suit prank did.

If I was a member of this Yes Men group, one of the first goals would be to make an impact. With the pranks that were carried out, an impact was hardly made. Rather, the audiences were kind of lost with what the Yes Men were trying to convey. Were they joking around or kind of serious? Is their speech engaging at all or is it just a bore? Did their messages even make sense at all?

I thought their first farce with the body suit was really bad and lost on everyone who viewed it. The second go with the recycled burgers was much better, but once the question and answer session began the Yes Men seemed very lost. I would think they could have thought on their feet a bit better than that. The final prank was alright again, but it seemed that with the spotlight that they were given, they really could have accomplished more.

As for the documentary itself, I did not think it was put together very well. There was nothing creative about it. There was nothing added to this by it being a documentary rather than an hour long television show spotlighting what the group actually did.

After I finished watching this and began reflecting upon what I just saw, I was really left wondering how much this group was really able to accomplish. It feels to me that the people who put this documentary together really tried to make it seem that the Yes Men made more of an impact than they really did.

I definitely agree with what the Yes Men set out to accomplish, but I'm not sure if their story really deserved to be made into a feature length documentary.
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Fighting for the People
bandarmae4 February 2010
These two guys are just the kind of political activists we need today. They show how every person can fight for justice and even go up against enormous corporations if you plan a careful and clever strategy using dark humor as your main weapon.

What's really amazing is that they're small-town filmmakers from upstate NY who have pulled off a movie that's much better than most of the stuff Hollywood churns out.

Though this is an older film, it's still one of the funniest and most satisfying documentaries you'll ever enjoy. You won't believe the stunts they get away with--and you'll be rooting for them every step of the way.

You can even check it out for free now on
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Makers of "Yes Men" need to go back to school
artemiss-110 November 2005
I think the CONTENT of the documentary was probably valid but the QUALITY of the video was less than that of a home-made one. It was so poor that I could not continue to watch the video which I tried to do twice. And that really disappoints me because I'm very much interested in anything that blows the whistle on the arrogance of international organizations whose self-interested gains appear to be the only reason for their existence.

Interestingly, this documentary appeared to be inspired by Michael Moore's work. I think the makers of this one need to be mentored by Moore for awhile yet.
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A responsible corporation would warn us about this movie
rlange-325 April 2005
I could hardly make it past the two of them patting each other on the back at length over their phony Bush website. The funniest thing about this movie is that these two were probably sobbing and crying over the 2004 election results. Have a little Wolfowitz for desert.

It would seem that the jacket of the CD ought to have warned us that this wasn't really a comedy "with humor and outrageous antics" so much as a smug political statement of moral superiority by immature reprobates toadying up to the international left. Maybe they should have started with a protest of the mislabeling of their own film by the video outlet I rented it at (a major corporation).

Not recommended. Anyone putting a dime into a rental fee on this one is probably supporting some group sacrificing American lives and jobs to preserve the habitat of a colony of slime mold somewhere in the ANWR.
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Unintelligent satire that may amuse the ignorant
JohnSelf15 April 2005
Warning: Spoilers
I was impressed with the elaborate pranks and that they were able to at least look like they were giving competent presentations. That was it. The rest of it was fairly stupid.

One of the first big jokes centers around a presentation made in Finland about a ridiculous phallic employee monitoring device. I suppose we were supposed to find humor in the fact that the Finns failed to react. I think it showed more about the ignorance and stupidity of the Yes Men than the audience.

Even if they hadn't pulled out the giant penis thing, I'm sure the audience wouldn't have asked any questions about the WTO's plan to monitor employees. No doubt the audience knew that the WTO would never become involved in something like that, and I can imagine it would be fairly typical for a group of Europeans to remain quiet about an American making an ass of himself in public. The most frustrating thing I found was that all the pranks that were meant to satire the WTO missed the mark completely.

The Yes Men seemed to be completely uninformed about what the WTO does. I'm not sure how you can satirize something if you don't understand it. It would be sort of like making "Spinal Tap" based upon lives of circus performers. The WTO simply doesn't become involved in individual corporations, like McDonald's. So, while the idea of reconstituted feces being sold as food may be slightly amusing, it's irrelevant to the operations of the WTO, which is problematic if you're trying to poke fun at the them.

In general, it's pretty much run-of-the-mill uninformed arguments you usually hear from people that denounce organizations like the World Bank or IMF with some pranks thrown in to entertain. Knee jerk liberalism with a twist, in other words. Which in my book, is equally as asinine as those that buy whatever FOX News or W is selling. On the plus side, if you don't know anything about the WTO or other cultures, you might find this amusing.
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