The Yes Men Chris Smith, Dan Ollman and Sarah Price

The term “media pranksters” requires two elements. One is relatively easy — come up with a stupid prank that playfully skewers the absurdities of the world around us. The second is more challenging: make the mainstream media notice, care and disseminate your message in a way that’s appropriate, easily digestible and prominent. Political documentary The Yes Men chronicles Andy Bichlbaum and Mike Bonanno, who have all the pranks in the world; the doc is part of their attempt to get more people to notice. You’d think that getting people to notice the Yes Men wouldn’t be the hard part, but they’re so good at their pranks that no one blinks an eye. Having received their start with a mock George W. Bush web site, they moved on to the evil World Trade Organization, attempting to fight power with truth in the guise of WTO’s own logo and web design. But many web surfers have been taken in by the surface appearance of this WTO mocking site and began to ask for public appearances by “members of the WTO.” Bichlbaum and Bonanno began accepting these invitations to speak to business leaders and bureaucrats but used the opportunity to favour slavery, denounce humanism and mock the corporate control of the world. Since few people even notice, they have to amp up their “culture jamming,” unveiling a gold one-piece “leisure suit” with a giant inflatable cock-like appendage and proposing that McDonald’s recycle first world shit into third world burger goodness. Finally, they just announce the disbanding of the WTO altogether. What makes the Yes Men a great concept but not necessarily successful in execution hinders this documentary as well: the people they’re speaking to don’t generally notice or care because the Yes pair aren’t that interesting as speakers. Many audience members simply tune them out, reading a magazine while they declare the American Civil War “a waste,” that slavery would have been rectified by the market system if it had been left to its own devices. Even as each stunt gets more and more outrageous, their desperation for attention becomes more palpable. The fact is the message they are attempting to convey is likely only reaching people who already agree, whose knowledge is already similar to those of the Yes Men. As Michael Moore can attest, it’s not easy to get those who disagree to pay for political education in the guise of edutainment. The Yes Men have great intentions and some truly whacked-out ideas but they need to work on their manipulation of the medium as well as their message. Plus: commentary, deleted scenes. (MGM)