This documentary from the makers of the hilarious American Movie was a long time coming to Australian theatres. The Yes Men screened at 2004’s Melbourne International Film Festival, but I unfortunately missed out. Thus when I finally got to see it the other day I was a little disappointed.
The Yes Men is an entertaining diversion, but nothing much more. This light hearted doco isn’t built upon a solid foundation. This isn’t a Michael Moore film, whereby the humour is actually coupled with some convincing arguments and layout of the facts. This is a prank film (albeit a lot more interesting and intelligent than the average ‘hidden camera’ show on TV). Come to think of it, Mr Moore’s appearance was kind of annoying. Yes, he has been instrumental in the recent resurgence in theatrically released documentaries, but his only function here is to explain in very simple terms what the World Trade Organisation does… and then he’s gone. His gratuitous appearance is even less relevant than the part he played in The Corporation – a doco that above all did attempt to educate the audience.
Andy and Mike are pretty darn good at what they do. To have the guts to appear on a CNBC program impersonating a member of the World Trade Organisation is to be admired at the very least, not to mention anything about giant inflatable phalluses (see the film and you’ll know what I mean). But the documentary doesn’t really support their acts. There’s a lot of pranking/activism that’s referred to rather than seen, and to fill in these gaps we simply have Andy and Mike telling us how successful they thought they were. If we’d have seen more reactions of the public (or even the WTO) then this might have made for a much more engaging experience. A major disappointment was the fact that some of the back stories to the Yes Men’s greater family were much more interesting than the pranks we actually witnessed.
A successful documentary should mean the viewer leaves the cinema having learnt something. The Yes Men failed in this respect. If you’re simply after a laugh, then maybe this film is for you.Rating: