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‘Yoga Hosers’ Is A Skippable Midnight Movie Mess (Movie Review)

yoga hosers 1As one who has let his teenage fandom of Kevin Smith grow into continual admiration, as the New Jerseyan writer/director has forged a new career centered around podcasting and various forms of public speaking, in addition to occasionally making films, Yoga Hosers feels like another test. Following the walrus-themed horror-comedy Tusk, his latest features finds Smith directing his focus on his daughter and her best friend (Johnny Depp’s daughter). One can respect a parent for going to such lengths, but the resulting film is still just not very good.

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Serving as the second film in Smith’s True North Trilogy (the next film is titled Moose Jaws), Yoga Hosers features Harley Quinn Smith and Lily-Rose Depp as Colleen McKenzie and Colleen Collette. The two high school girls work as convenience store clerks (hmm, sounds familiar) in Canada and have an obsession with their cell phones. They are also big proponents of yoga and have a band. Their misadventures to attend a party with seniors become unbalanced when they discover a threat of little monsters they refer to as Bratzis (tiny Nazis made out of bratwursts).

If you made it past that sentence then you are at least somewhat still intrigued by what Yoga Hosers has to offer. Sadly, despite attempts by Smith to wildly move away from his comfort zone, the film is too messy for its own good and not in the ‘so bad its good’ way either. Clearly the director wanted to make a film where his daughter kicks ass and young women like her can relate to it in some way. Given all the ridiculous movies about high school guys doing stupid stuff, in only makes sense to have films countering this logic. The problem is how hard Smith seems to be trying to make a midnight movie or a film that jumps ahead to being a cult favorite.

Cult films are rarely made to be received as such. Sure, this film stems from extended ideas Smith and his best friend/former producer Scott Mosier discuss on their podcast (while high) and only has so much of a budget on purpose, but the biggest problem Yoga Hosers still has is that it tries too hard. That’s a strange notion to consider, given a somewhat lazy feel to many of the jokes, one-liners, sight gags and inside humor fit for those who listen to Smith’s podcasts, but the film still seems like it wants to accomplish more than it is capable of.

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It is a bit of a shame, because there actually is some good stuff here. While not laugh-out-loud hilarious, the portions of the film that feature the Colleens as bored teens working at a store and getting through high school are entertaining and probably more so to the audiences closer to their age. While everyone has a (purposefully) exaggerated Canadian accent and the word “basic” seems to enter into the dialogue way too much, this material is pretty good.

Both Smith and Depp have natural chemistry, which is obvious due to their real-life friendship, but they also play well enough off of the other cast members. Sadly, the rest of the cast is on a sliding scale or irritation. Fairing best is Depp’s mother Vanessa Paradis, who plays the high school history teacher and delivers a bunch of exposition surrounding Canadian Nazis. On the other end of the spectrum you have poor Ralph Garman (Smith’s podcasting sidekick on ‘Hollywood Babble-On’ and radio personality) forced to trot out his various vocal impressions, rather than deliver an original character.

Of course, no cast member is more jarring than Johnny Depp, who reprises his Guy LaPointe character from Tusk and continues to make us wonder what is going on in his mind, underneath all the makeup he is wearing. To his credit, Depp always commits and that is no different here. One could even say he relishes the chance to act opposite his daughter and her friend, but the character is such a baffling one to witness.

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In addition to a lot of comedy that falls flat, it is the horror/fantasy element involving the Bratzis that really hurts the film. It is never all that amusing to watch, the effects look incredibly poor and the idea seems half-baked at most.  If the concept of two high schoolers fighting tiny Nazis was stuffed into a two-minute trailer during the Tarantino/Rodiriguez double feature Grindhouse, this could have been passable. As a feature-length film, it’s more like a chore.

Compared to Tusk, however, Yoga Hoser gets points for being shorter and allowing us to follow more likable characters. Smith’s filmmaking abilities have certainly evolved in the years since Clerks and Mallrats, but there is nothing here as cinematically interesting as Red State. If anything, the director seems to have taken a lot of cues from Edgar Wright’s Scott Pilgrim vs. The World, given the sound effects, comic-book like cutaways and other elements.

Yoga Hosers is not the worst thing Smith has done, but it does fall into the pile of podcast ideas that sound better as chatter amongst friends or even as a short film, rather than a fully-funded feature. I can only hope Moose Jaws is more thought out (geez, what am I even saying?). #WalrusNo

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Writer/Reviewer, Film Lover, Podcaster, Video Game Player, Comic Book Reader, Disc Golfer & a Lefty. There are too many films, TV, books, etc. for me to list as favorites, but I can assure that the amount film knowledge within my noggin is ridiculous, though I am always open to learning more. You can follow me on Twitter @AaronsPS4, see what else I am up to at TheCodeIsZeek.com & check out my podcast, Out Now with Aaron and Abe, on iTunes.

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