EIFF 2016: Yoga Hosers review
Kevin Smith burst onto the scene in 1994 with Clerks, one of the most influential indie comedies of all time. Think of how many instances in the intervening 22 years you have watched a movie with slacker dudes waxing lyrical about the minutiae of pop culture, and remember that Clerks did it first. He followed this with the critically reviled Mallrats, a fun slice of post-adolescent pre-adulthood nonsense that was grossly misunderstood. His next film was the award winning, and Golden Globe nominated Chasing Amy.
And that has pretty much been the story for Smith ever since. Aside from a die-hard contingent of super fans who will see and love everything he does, Smith has a love/hate relationship with both critics and audiences alike, and that emotion switches from one film to the next. Following the critical mauling of Cop Out (a director for hire gig) there was a much publicised online rant against film criticism, leading him to self distribute his next picture, Red State, a film that was ironically enough quite well received by the press.
This acrimony with the movie business led Smith to announce his retirement from filmmaking, and concentrate mostly on his vast empire of Podcasts. Three years later, in a haze of pot smoke, during episode 259 of SModcast, Smith’s creative spark was reignited, in the form of a twisted tale of a lonely man’s relationship with a walrus. The resulting return to the director’s chair gave us Tusk, part one of the True North trilogy. Part two, is Yoga Hosers.
In perhaps one of the biggest departures in style, tone and content that a director has ever attempted, Kevin Smith, one of the most creatively R-rated screenwriters of contemporary cinema has gone and made a film for teenage girls. Seen briefly in Tusk, the two young convenience store clerks (both called Colleen) are now the heroes of this unexpectedly entertaining tale of Satanists, Nazi sausages (yes that’s right), instagram and yoga, all set in a cartoon version of Canada. Embrace your inner child (not too tight though, that’s weird) and open yourself to the silliness. You might just enjoy yourself.
Played by real life best friends Harley-Quinn Smith and Lily-Rose Depp, the Colleens are a fun double act. Bored with school, their families and their jobs (so basic…), they just want to party with the seniors, rock out in their band, and post shit online. Basically, they’re teenagers. The genuine chemistry between the two friends is very sweet and overcomes their relative inexperience as actors. They’re funny, giggly and charming, and when their convenience store (Eh-2-Zed) is overrun by the botched result of a Nazi experiment…the bratzis…they gleefully set about destroying them with their yoga prowess.
The film, as you may have guessed, is completely crazy and absurd. In Kevin Smith’s own words, it is “pretty fucking stupid.” And I would agree with that, but hell, it’s also a pretty fucking fun way to spend 90 minutes. I just hope the film can reach the crowd who will enjoy it the most. With Smith’s fan base being so overwhelmingly comprised of middle-aged Generation X-ers, I fear that the intended audience for Yoga Hosers is going to miss it completely.
On the cameo front, Johnny Depp turns up again, reprising his role from Tusk as master sleuth Guy LaPointe. His appearance in that film, as a prosthetic faced Clouseau, mugging his way through his lines, was a jarring experience. It didn’t fit with the midnight movie tone, and nastiness of Tusk. In Yoga Hosers however, the tone is much wackier and irreverent, and dare I say it, Joe Dante-esque. In that light, Depp’s cameo makes much more sense here, although it is still a character I would happily see confined to the annals of history.
In the demented final act, when a crazed Nazi (played by Ralph Garman doing a bunch of his Hollywood Babble-On impressions) decides to murder all the critics and haters in the land (for….well, reasons), the Colleens and LaPointe must save the day. So wait, what is this I am seeing? Kevin Smith being kind to critics? What world are we living in? Well we know one thing for sure, “this isn’t the real world. This is Canada.”