By: Trevor Jeffery
The Yes Men Are Revolting is something like reality prank drama meets comedic character documentary, with social justice slathered through out.
Back for their third documentary, cultural activist conmen Andy Bichlbaum and Mike Bonanno (stage names for Jacques Servin and Igor Vamos, respectively) stick it to the man by pretending to be the man and raising awareness through fake press conferences and publicity stunts. The Yes Men hit climate change hard, and get attention for it. But, the toll of uphill activism drains them, disrupts their personal lives and sours their relationship with each other. Lacking enthusiasm, the duo are re-inspired by the 2011 Occupy Wall Street movement, and reform to do what they can about saving the planet.
Nuts and bolts, The Yes Men Are Revolting is darn good documentary filmmaking. As you are taken from stunt to stunt, there’s a through line: the audience sees the relationship between Andy and Mike start out strong, and wither, to be brought back to life in the traditional third act fashion. The character drama is engaging, and their causes are too, leading you to care all over the spectrum: from the two-person relationship to the globe-saving effort. Andy and Mike are charming on camera, and they’re funny – you’ll be hard-pressed to find a documentary about the annihilation of life on our planet that will make you laugh this much.
The Yes Men Are Revolting structures itself more like a film than a documentary, but does so without leaving behind the dissemination, the hard stats and facts (covered by simple but effective animations) or even the talking heads. It’s a doc that feels like a film.
You’d think that after three of these films and dozens of pranks that get nation wide media attention, they’d be too famous (or infamous, depending on who you are) to carry on with their conning ways. Hopefully no one catches on, but if they do, then the Yes Men certainly have a fall back in filmmaking.
Do You Tweet? Follow:
Trevor Jeffery: @TrevorSJeffery