Film

Prankster Yes Men Return and Endure in the Emotional ‘The Yes Men Are Revolting’

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Media about climate change is such a bummer that nobody ever pays attention. How do we go on living when we know not only that we’re dying, but that our chance for a legacy — for eternity — is dying too? How about this: a 90-minute documentary about two men failing at climate change awareness activism.

The Yes Men Are Revolting, which is pretty funny and only kind of sad, produces the sensation of watching a feature-length series of YouTube clips of cats smashing into glass doors and babies eating lemons, crossed with Comedians in Cars Getting Coffee. This is a good thing. The Yes Men, Mike Bonanno and Andy Bichlbaum, are middle-aged Jewish men who make a sport of dressing up in drab suits and impersonating The Man, then making public appearances in his name, but using his power for good and undermining rapacious business interests.

The film builds to an absurd confrontation between Andy, who’s hosting a fake press conference for the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, and a real Chamber of Commerce staffer. “Show me your business card!” each demands of the other. It’s one big American Psycho–style dick-measuring contest. The Yes Men visit rural Uganda, Canadian oil fields, Zuccotti Park, and a climate change conference in Copenhagen, but in its best moments this loopy yet informative doc becomes a buddy movie.

The men are aligned in purpose, politics, and silliness, but Mike is married to a woman and has three kids, while Andy is gay and lonely — devoted to work, and resenting his best friend’s family. Their globetrotting easy conversation, nitpicking, and laughter despite anger and environmental upset create an unusual space for the viewer to do the same.

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