Yoga Hosers (2016)
Do your ‘wurst…
The second chapter in writer-director-podcaster Kevin Smith’s bizarre True North trilogy (films set in Canada for no reason other than the fact that Smith probably finds the Canadian accent funny), Yoga Hosers is a spin-off focused around the two apathetic clerk characters we met in Tusk — the walrus-themed body-horror flick of 2014. Taking front-and-center this time are Smith’s daughter, Harley Quinn Smith, and her real-life bestie Lily-Rose Depp, who portray Colleen McKenzie and Colleen Collette respectively, two yoga-loving teens who work at the Eh-2-Zed, a Winnipeg convenience store — maybe a nod to Smith’s directorial debut Clerks (1994).
The story, so to speak, kicks into gear when the girls accidentally unfreeze a Canadian Nazi (with a knack for delivering dead-on impersonations of Adam West, Sylvester Stallone and Al Pacino, hoo-ah!), named Andronicus Arcane (Smith’s Hollywood Babble-On co-host Ralph Garman). Following his premature awakening, Arcane, along with his army of bite-size German-accented bratwurst minions called Bratzis (played by Kevin Smith), sets his evil scheme to, um … become a world-famous artist … into motion, the crazed scientist hell-bent on eradicating contemporary art critics in the process.
Uneven, self-indulgent and utterly nutty, Yoga Hosers certainly won’t be for everyone — but hey, I found it somewhat entertaining. Sure, the Canadian jokes get a bit tiresome (how many times can a character say ‘soorry abooot that’ and why is everybody’s preferred weapon of choice a hockey stick?), but Smith, along with his cast, appear to have had a jolly good time making the film, this radiating on screen. Playing out like an episode of Smith’s SModcast come-to-life (which he records with Scott Mosier), Yoga Hosers drags at times due to its access fat with most of the cast serving as padding and little else — an extended sequence that sees Génesis Rodríguez’s P.E. teacher Ms. Wicklund confiscate the girls’ phones being a prime example of this — Lunchbox wasting a large chunk of the film’s scant 88 minute run time on senseless extended gags. There’s also an unnecessary subplot revolving around two high school Satanists played by Austin Butler, Aliens in the Attic (2009), and Tyler Posey from TV’s Teen Wolf (2011). Suffice to say, Smith’s editing could do with a bit more restraint.
That said, the movie does possess a tone of energy, thanks to its colorful aesthetic and stylistic flair, Smith introducing characters via Instagram-like info cards that’ll probably fare better at home with the pause button handy. Those who know their nerd culture will probably get a lot more out of Yoga Hosers, too, with animated Batman voice-actor Kevin Conroy appearing in a brief cameo as well as the great man himself, Stan Lee. There are also nods to Adam West’s ’60s Batman along with countless other horror references, these giving the flick an irreverent skit-ish feel. Effects wise, Yoga Hosers comes across as ‘cheap,’ particularly the Golem Goalie creature (a sculpture-like hockey goal-keeper thingy built to destroy critics and haters) and the Bratzis, who never look like they’re actually there (don’t get me started on their exploding sauerkraut VFX).
Look, it’s no secret that the jersey-wearing-Smith has gone public in stating that his films ‘aren’t for critics,’ Bluntman pretty much making movies for himself and his niche audience, unphased by the opinions of others. With that in mind, it’s kinda paradoxical then to find a lot of the characters in Yoga Hosers (including the antagonists) expressing their disdain towards ‘haters,’ the villain of the piece pretty much blaming the ‘critics’ for his sinister turn and contempt — Yoga Hosers possibly existing as an f-you to Smith’s naysayers and panning reviewers.
Performances are … errr … well, in line with Smith’s goofy singular vision. Harley Quinn Smith and Lily-Rose Depp are solid as the narcissistic millennials fixated to their smartphones, dismissing anything they don’t like as being ‘so basic.’ The gals also share a palpable chemistry together as the Colleens, their authentic bond really shining through, and while the film fails at chronicling their awareness of the world outside of their digital screens, it succeeds at showcasing just how today’s social media obsessed generation function, Gen-Y basically living out their lives through their devices — Smith secretly hoping that 12-year-old girls stumble onto the film and really connect with it. Then there’s the return of Tusk’s infamous Québécois man-hunter, Guy Lapointe, played by an unrecognizable Johnny Depp, whose various moles change in number and position between shots. Depp is clearly having a blast under his bushy eyebrows and a black beret, the 53-year-old delivering a Monty Python–esque accent whilst trying his darnedest to channel the great Peter Sellers — again, this is an either ‘love it’ or ‘hate it’ performance (I dug it). Elsewhere Justin Long, Drag Me to Hell (2009), pops up as the girls’ clueless yoga instructor Yogi Bayer, who spends the majority of his screen time arguing with Warner Bros. lawyers over copyright infringement, while Haley Joel Osment, Sex Ed (2014), has a two second role (via a flashback) as a Canadian Nazi named Adrien Arcand. Last but not least is Arrested Development (2003) star Tony Hale, who portrays Colleen C’s bug-eyed father Bob. And oh, look out for Adam Brody, Jennifer’s Body (2009), and Smith’s long-time pal Jason Mewes in smaller parts.
Less of a movie and more of a Saturday-morning cartoon come to life, Yoga Hosers sports an entirely different tone to that of its dark ancestor, Tusk, Smith perhaps alienating anyone who isn’t already on his side. With an evident dip in quality from Smith’s second True North outing, I fear the worst for Moose Jaws, the third and final installment in the unofficial series. Just in case you were wondering, the term ‘hoser’ is actually a Canadian word for loser or idiot — an expression about as dated as some of Smith’s quips here.
2.5 / 5 – Alright
Reviewed by Mr. Movie
Yoga Hosers is released through Roadshow Entertainment Australia