Yes, we have spoofs. Yes, we have hoaxes. Yes, we have people blundering around and falling down in a polar bear costume while onlookers look on in bewilderment.
Yes, we have the Yes Men, Andy Bichlbaum and Mike Bonanno, a pair of fortysomething pranksters who have made it their life’s mission to tweak the rich and the powerful with cleverly conceived and generally funny stunts designed to highlight corporate and governmental hypocrisy.
Their weapons of choice are fake websites that mimic real corporate and governmental sites where they put across their contrarian messages, and bogus press conferences where they present themselves to credulous reporters as spokesmen for various official entities like the World Trade Organization and the U.S. Chamber of Commerce.
In their first documentary, 2003’s “The Yes Men,” they targeted the WTO in the wake of the Seattle street protests against that organization. In their latest picture, “The Yes Men Are Revolting,” they have global warming in their sights. (Hence the live-action polar bear suit stunt, not to mention an animated segment showing a bear sinking, sinking, sinking into the warming waters of the arctic as the beast’s ice floe melts away.)
The pair view climate change as such a huge problem that it frankly tests their ability to find lighthearted ways to address it. Laughing at the apocalypse is hard work.
A strain of melancholy runs through “Revolting” as the men wonder if their prankish activism, which they’ve been pursuing since the late 1990s, has been worth it. It’s been hard on their relationships. There are issues of sexual orientation raised in the movie, and it's interesting to watch how this pair — one gay, one straight — negotiate that.
The Occupy Wall Street movement reinvigorates their enthusiasm for their work. “Who knew that so many people felt like we do,” Bonanno says.
And at the end, where they hoodwink a meeting of defense contractors into joining hands and dancing around the room, it’s clear their comic spark has not been extinguished.
THE YES MEN ARE REVOLTING
Rating: ☆☆☆ out of five.
Cast: Andy Bichlbaum and Mike Bonanno.
Directors: Bichlbaum, Bonanno and Laura Nix.
Running time: 1:31.
Rated: Unrated; Language and mature themes.