Sundance 2016 | ‘Yoga Hosers’ Has More Canuck Than Sense
Kevin Smith may have a new comedy about young people trapped behind the counter of a convenience store, but Yoga Hosers isn’t a return to form from the guy who made Clerks. It’s actually a return to form from the guy who made Clerks: The Animated Series, and if you remember that short-lived explosion of silliness, you know that’s a little bit of a compliment.
Yoga Hosers stars Harley Quinn Smith (Kevin’s daughter) and Lily-Rose Depp (Johnny’s daughter) as Colleen and Colleen, two teenagers who are all but surgically attached to their phones and frequently use words like “basic” which I had to look up on Urban Dictionary, since I am now officially old. They live in the same satirical version of Canada where Kevin Smith previously set the human-walrus horror comedy Tusk. They played a small part in the plot that last time as well, and they are adorbz. (Do people still say “adorbz?” Oh god, this movie makes me feel ancient.)
When we catch up with the Colleens, they are busy with school, and yoga class, and their minorly awesome cover band “Glamthrax.” (If their cover of “I’m the Man” doesn’t endear them to you, nothing probably will.) Their lives are briefly en route to traditional John Hughes territory – a hunky senior just invited them to the big party – but they get sidelined by a Nazi plot to clone Hitler using bratwurst. So yeah, there’s that.
Yoga Hosers is impossible to take seriously, so don’t even start. Even when Smith makes the argument that critics were responsible for the Holocaust (which is like, dude, we’re sitting right here) it’s all for a larf. And to their credit, the Colleens – who themselves criticize every single thing in front of them – whip out all their yoga martial arts expertise to save the critics of the world from the evil machinations of a Nazi mad scientist, which is basically Smith telling his detractors, “We’ve all had our fun, but now we’re cool, right?”
Smith puts a lot of effort into introducing a supporting cast that seems like fun until we realize they’re not going to matter very much, like our heroes’ parents and teachers and fellow students. He took a similar, but less successful approach to Tusk, which was going along just swimmingly until Smith took a hard right into another movie entirely. Here at least the tone is consistent, and the return of Johnny Depp’s strange Canadian Inspector Clouseau analogue, Guy LaPointe, is actually pretty tolerable this time around, to the point of actually being a little fun. He’s not getting in the way of the movie we were promised. He’s merely a part of the already cluttered, eccentric tapestry.
And “cluttered” is very appropriate way to describe Yoga Hosers. It’s a cacophony of silliness, with dumb jokes about Canadian niceties and dumber jokes about Nazis and even dumber jokes about death via butthole. Smith’s jokes don’t land as often as they probably should, but the tone is consistent enough that Yoga Hosers eventually lulls you into complacency. It’s a sweet-natured, dumb little movie and you’d have to be having a pretty bad day not to be amused by at least some of its shenanigans.
Most importantly, Yoga Hosers is grounded by two intensely likable performances by Harley Quinn Smith and Lily-Rose Depp, whose natural charms could probably have carried a less wacky movie with ease. Harley Quinn Smith is the only one of the Colleens whose subplot actually goes anywhere, which is a big part of why her character stands out, but she’s a natural comedian. Lily-Rose has to play a character who is a little less emotional, and whose personal story – her dad has a new girlfriend, who sucks – withers on the vine halfway through the film. Even so, the young actors play off each other well and earn more than enough affection to carry Yoga Hosers through its less-than-funny moments (of which there are several).
Any comedy this specific, this scattershot, and this weird is bound to have detractors, but there’s a lot to like about Yoga Hosers. Its abundant silliness and funny heroes overpower the oddball supporting cast and baffling plot points, and feel completely of a piece with the broader work of Kevin Smith. It’s not nearly as inspired as “WHO IS DRIVING? OH MY GOD BEAR IS DRIVING HOW CAN THAT BE?!” but then again… what is?
Top Photo Courtesy Sundance Institute
William Bibbiani (everyone calls him ‘Bibbs’) is Crave’s film content editor and critic. You can hear him every week on The B-Movies Podcast and watch him on the weekly YouTube series Most Craved and What the Flick. Follow his rantings on Twitter at @WilliamBibbiani.