Imagine if those quixotic ideas that come to us around 3:00am — generally when dazed, confused, and with friends — had the potential to be made manifest. Not just made, though, but crafted into a feature-length film. And not just a feature-length film, but a multi-million dollar enterprise starring one of the most beloved and recognizable actors of the 21st century. That would be pretty cool, right?
Maybe, unless that idea was “Yoga Hosers,” and it revolved around two teenage girls battling Nazi bratwursts — the colloquial term being, “Bratzis.” Yes, that is what this movie is about. No, TheWrap has not been taken over by D-level comedy writers.
Let’s start with positivity. The girls fighting the anthropomorphized sausages, both named Colleen, are played by Lily-Rose Depp and Harley Quinn Smith. Under Smith’s direction (he also wrote the script), Johnny Depp plays French Canadian detective Guy Lapointe, whose investigation of anti-Semitism in Canada’s history is at once incomprehensible and irrelevant.
That “Yoga Hosers” is not a flagrant act of nepotism speaks to the younger Depp and Smith’s talents. They’re undeniably charismatic as the Colleens, surly sophomores who play in a punk band and have a disdain for pretty much everything and everyone but each other. Oh, and their cell phones. They love their cell phones.
Smith zaps the energy of his movie by making sure you understand this key fact. In the universe of “Yoga Hosers,” a spiritual and sometimes literal sequel to “Tusk,” the youth are entrenched in technology, devoid of substance, and think all of life can be reduce to one shattering word: “Basic.”
Working as convenience-store clerks in a Canuck town? Basic. Gym class yoga in contrast to their private yoga lessons with a shaggy-haired, goateed instructor (Justin Long)? Basic. Being held captive by a Nazi who cryogenically froze himself? Basic. This movie?
New characters are introduced through an Instagram-like filter that relay vital facts (name, age, why they suck). The device is not as formally inventive as Smith seems to think it is. It’s also antithetical to the film’s mission statement. “This is a movie,” he said during his Fathom event preamble, “made for 9-year-old girls.” Fine, make a movie for 9-year-old girls. They’re an underserved demographic. But could you maybe then not make your movie rated PG-13? Or how about making something that doesn’t consistently condescend and undermine their intelligence?
I understand in the eyes of Kevin Smith, this review is indistinguishable from the lambasting he gets from other critics. In Smith’s milieu, critics are reduced to haters. And you know what “Yoga Hosers” says about haters: “Haters have to hate; douches have to douche.” I actually laughed at that line. The movie also features this joyful nugget of dialogue: “He’s not talking about killing real people — just critics.” With context, that line still doesn’t make sense.
But I assure you the circumstances are not quotidian here. Smith has lamented in the past that critics don’t pay for movies, and that by not paying for the films we’re reviewing, we’ve positioned ourselves as somehow superior to general audiences. So instead of a press screening, I bought a ticket and trotted into the theater mildly, let’s say, high-minded, as Smith intended. It was a sparsely attended affair. Probably less than a dozen people in the house. In fact, when I called the theater in advance asking whether there would be tickets available for tonight’s showing, the person on the line cackled. “No, I think you’ll be fine.” The movie came and went, filled by the sounds of crickets, mostly, punctuated by my laughter. (Note: four jokes are dynamite).
What makes Smith a dynamic podcaster — his shambolic, off-the-cuff storytelling — is his undoing as a filmmaker. Forget about coherency. That’s something you throw out the window when the log-line is “sarcastic teens fighting Nazi bratwursts.” The film’s own internal logic, created by Smith, collapses on itself. Instead of a film that’s gleefully outlandish (see: “Sausage Party”), “Yoga Hosers” is a drag. It contains none of the vivacity of “Clerks,” “Mallrats” or “Chasing Amy,” and plenty of references to those days of yesteryear. It’s a cannibalization of all that we once loved about Smith and his movies.
I can’t blame my fellow attendees for not supporting this movie. Aside from its dynamic lead actresses, what is there to support?
It’s a masturbatory love letter to Smith’s checkered filmography. It’s a commentary on his contentious relationship with critics. It’s a piece of erratic ephemera that proves anything is possible when Donald Trump is the GOP nominee. Above all, though, it’s an elongated, stubby middle-finger to his loyal fan-base, to whom he proclaimed at Sundance, “I don’t give a sh-t about anymore.”
Yeah, no sh-t.