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MGM Studios DVD presents
The Yes Men (2003)

"This time we have to push it, make it totally extreme. We keep trying to push things further."
- Mike Bonanno

Review By: Rich Rosell   
Published: February 14, 2005

Stars: Andy Bichlbaum, Mike Bonanno
Other Stars: Michael Moore, Barry Coates, Greg Palast
Director: Chris Smith, Dan Ollman, Sarah Price

Manufacturer: Deluxe Digital Studios
MPAA Rating: R for language
Run Time: 01h:21m:56s
Release Date: February 15, 2005
UPC: 027616914361
Genre: comedy

Image Transfer
Audio Transfer
B+ B+B-B B

DVD Review

The Yes Men are a small, rotating group of subversive pranksters led by Mike Bonanno and Andy Bichlbaum, who, under the guise of political consciousness, media/corporate control, and social awareness, have staged a number of mock events over the years that, to their delight, have been eventually passed of as legitimate news items. From The Barbie Liberation Organization (when they swapped the voice modules for GI Joes and Barbies and replaced them on store shelves) to a parody of the official George Bush website (theirs featured a grinning President flipping off black Americans), the Yes Men toe the line between parody and reality so effectively that no matter how ridiculous the premise, it seems to get media coverage as if it were legit.

Directed by the triumvirate responsible for the brilliant documntary, American Movie (Chris Smith, Dan Ollman, Sarah Price), The Yes Men focuses on two major pranks: representing themselves as members of the World Trade Organization (WTO) by speaking about "remote labor" (aka slavery) at a conference in Finland, and a presentation on solving third world hunger that proposes feeding the poor McDonald's hamburgers made out of recycled human waste. It is all ridiculous and far-fetched, but Bonanno and Bichlbaum play it seriously (or as serious as one can get considering the subject), although the most alarming thing is the reactions of their audiences, who seem to not entirely realize its all satire.

The WTO is their primary target, and the Yes Men attack the principles of globalization and corporatization with glee; their original mock WTO website led to them receiving an invitation (obviously intended for the real WTO) to speak at a Finnish conference on the subject of "Textiles of the Future." The lecture ends with Bichlbaum, after talking at length about the benefits of "remote labor", tearing away his suit to reveal a gold lame outfit with an inflatable phallic attachment that houses a video monitor on its tip to supposedly allow harried managers the ability to track the work of laborers implanted with special microchips. There is awkward laughter at times from the attendees, but when Bichlbaum appears in a number of press publications, representing the WTO in his gold phallic suit, their point seems to be given legitimacy.

These are well-staged gags, sort of like a left-wing Candid Camera, especially if you find films like Bowling For Columbine or Fahrenheit 9/11 refreshing and fun. Michael Moore appears briefly, giving the Yes Men an unspoken blessing of credibility amongst people not pleased with things like the iron-fisted grip of corporate-controlled globalization. But directors Smith, Ollman, and Price, however, spend the majority of the time following Bonanno and Bichlbaum as pranks are fine-tuned and developed, on through execution and the often surprising aftermath. There is a breezy casualness to the way the two principal Yes Men find themselves representing the WTO before all sorts of media and corporate types, and even something so laughable as the human-waste-into-burgers presentation (complete with spiffy computer graphics) is met with angry debate, as if the whole concept were somehow real.

That is really, really scary if you stop and think aboutit.

Rating for Style: B+
Rating for Substance: B+


Image Transfer

Aspect Ratio1.85:1 - Widescreen
Original Aspect Ratioyes

Image Transfer Review: Though presented in 1.85:1 anamorphic widescreen, The Yes Men looks like a low-budget documentary, and the quality is often just very average, at best. Color levels fluctuate a bit from scene to scene, depending on lighting conditions, but in general look passable. Things like fine grain are fairly constant, but compressions issues and pixelation are basically nonexistent.

Image Transfer Grade: B-


Audio Transfer

 LanguageRemote Access
DS 2.0Englishyes

Audio Transfer Review: Audio is provided in what is listed as 2.0 "stereo surround", and that may be slightly misleading. There are no real surround cues to speak of, and the presentation is essentially basic two-channel stereo. But as a documentary, with the majority of the material recorded "on location", there really isn't much need for an elaborate or over-processed audio track. Voices are mostly clear at all times, though a couple of comments from spectators utilize burned in subs because the quality is a bit sketchy.

Audio Transfer Grade: B


Disc Extras

Animated menu with music
Scene Access with 16 cues and remote access
Subtitles/Captions in English, Spanish, French with remote access
6 Other Trailer(s) featuring Code 46, Undertow, Wicker Park, Species 3, Confessions of an American Girl, When Will I Be Loved
4 Deleted Scenes
1 Feature/Episode commentary by Mike Bonanno, Andy Bichlbaum, Chris Smith, Dan Ollman, Sarah Price
Packaging: Amaray
Picture Disc
1 Disc
1-Sided disc(s)
Layers: dual

Extras Review: Yes men Mike Bonanno and Andy Bichlbaum, along with directors Chris Smith, Dan Ollman, and Sarah Price contribute a commentary track for the film, and its primary function seems to be chatting about the roots of the group, and elaborating on the process of creating the pranks. There are a few funny anecdotes along the way, but most of the track is pretty straight forward in explaining the goals of the pranks and how they were developed. For the curious, it is one of the first commentaries I've heard where the entire group imitates the MGM lion's roar at the outset.

There are also four nondescript deleted scenes (running a total of 05m:45s), as well a ton of MGM trailers. The disc is cut into 16 chapters, with optional subtitles in English, French or Spanish.

Extras Grade: B


Final Comments

Two guys pull wacky pranks, passing themselves off as representatives of the World Trade Organization with crazy ideas, and the results are quite funny; Mike Bonanno and Andy Bichlbaum are guerilla activists, parading bizarre concepts to an embarrassingly gullible media.

I'd be more ashamed of the world today if this wasn't so funny.

Especially recommended if you're part of the Michael Moore nation.


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