Love him or hate him, Kevin Smith is one of the most interesting directors in the game right now. He loves his craft and seems to genuinely gush over the act of filmmaking. Smith regularly has THC inspired, wild ideas that he then puts out into the world and decides based on our reaction if they will get made or not. He did this recently when he pitched the idea for the film Tusk on his podcast to which his listening audience voted a resounding #WalrusYes.
Personally, I feel Smith’s a better talker and idea man than he is at executing said ideas.
The first in his Canada obsessed trilogy, Tusk is a, heavy on concept but light on execution, body horror about an eccentric hermit with a bit of a fetish for the Wilford Brimleys of the sea. I hated Tusk. I felt it was self indulgent, tedious, broad, and just plain bad. I had never intentionally watched a man masturbate on film before witnessing Tusk. Sure you can say the same thing about Red State, to an extent, but I rather enjoyed that one. I thought it was a clever and fun change of pace from Smith’s earlier work. Tusk, not so much.
Was it different? Absolutely and I give him a ton of credit for even making it. However, was it a good film? Oh god no. Now you probably ask yourself why even bring up Tusk if this is about Yoga Hosers? That’s because you can’t really discuss one without the other OR without mentioning the, yet to be released, third in the series, Moose Jaws. It also happens to be the film that introduced us to the Colleens. Merely set design and ancillary characters in Tusk, they take the lead in Yoga Hosers.
Yogas Hosers is a sweetly written note in the lunch bag to his daughter, Harley. Every second she’s on the screen (and she’s on a lot) you can just hear him sitting behind the camera saying “you’re doing such a great job honey, Daddy loves you.” The problem with this is Smith has his “mom goggles” on. Harley, while entirely adequate, is not a good actress. She’s not even remotely good. Not even a little. Am I being mean here? Maybe, but it needs to be said. Frankly, she’s terrible, but she’s a teen who has never done any real acting before. If this were some Shot-In-A-Basement SOV flick that no one was really meant to see then I’d say “wow, that’s fairly decent.” This was not and so I’m straight up saying her performance was awful. In comparison, Lily-Rose Depp seems much more comfortable in front of the camera.
I recently had the opportunity to watch a Yoga Hosers Fathom event which featured an intro by Kevin Smith, which I was incredibly surprised he managed to keep to 30 minutes. Following the film was a Q&A which I skipped because I had a date that night. When you’re as fat, old, bald, and ugly as I am, you jump on those chances whenever you can. I’ve been seriously considering passing on talking about the film at all. I just feel like I’m going to nitpick every little detail and skewer it like an episode of No-Budget Nightmares. However, for the sake of you readers, I will touch on some points and leave the rest up to you.
If you’re unfamiliar with, what would loosely be called, the plot; Yoga Hosers is the story of two cell phone obsessed, catch phrase quipping (“So Soary ‘Boot that”, “So Basic”) teens named Colleen who unwittingly become embroiled in a plot by Canadian Nazis to take over the world using one foot tall, sausage men....or as Smith labelled them (cue groan) “Bratzis.”
In his intro, Smith declared that he made this film specifically for the younger audiences, but the amount of violence, gore, and language makes it seem like the sort of thing parents wouldn’t want their precious little angels watching. The problem then becomes that it doesn’t really play well for adult audiences either because the main characters are not particularly relatable. I imagine his core audience tends to be guys like myself; men in the their 30’s who were film fanatics back in the 90’s when Clerks became a surprise hit.
The biggest thing that doesn’t make Yoga Hosers a total wash for me was the rest of the cast. There’s Justin Long playing a Yoga instructor who spends much of his time on screen fighting cease and desist letters with lawyers on the phone over his name “Yogi Bayer.” Johnny Depp is back reprising his role as Guy Lapointe, a Québécois investigator who broke the “Manitoba Manatee” case wide open in Tusk. Guy was actually one of my favorite things about Tusk, though I openly admit that his role in the previous film ground the plot to a halt. In “Hosers” Depp acts more as a catalyst to keep the story moving and becomes a more welcome sight. As a bonus, his ludicrous accent and quirky behavior add much in the severely lacking comedy department. Haley Joel Osment turns up in expositional flashbacks as one of the leaders of the Canadian Nazi movement. The Director takes on the role of all the little meat men, making you long for his “silent” days. I assure you, you will never want to hear another human say “Wunderbar” again
Ralph Garman, who plays Andronicus Arcane, steals the entire movie though as the leader of the Nazi movement. Arcane makes quips about his own accent and spends the majority of his screen time (which is painfully lacking) attempting to make the girls feel at ease as he explains his scheme using pop culture figures that neither of the Colleens know about. Seriously, Garman’s impressions are a load of fun and breath fresh air into the, quickly becoming stale, film. I’ve always enjoy Garman’s work and, if you’re not a regular listener of Hollywood Babble-On, it becomes easy to forget just how funny he can be. The man has one of the single best Pacino impressions out there!
Yoga Hosers gets a soft pass because a few memorable moments and some genuine belly laughs, but I think more discerning viewers may just want to skip this one entirely. It’s a middling film, that has a few nearly unwatchable scenes and some of the absolute worst CGI I’ve ever encountered. The entire thing feels about as rushed as it actually was. Here’s to hoping Smith takes his time with Moose Jaws and gives us the off the wall, bonkers horror flick we all know he has in him...somewhere.