Nick Rutigliano '18
Each week I’ll be diving deep into the depths of Netflix and reviewing a movie that has a 20% or less rating on Rotten Tomatoes. To kick things off, I watched Yoga Hosers, a 2016 film that has already slipped into obscurity. This movie seemed like a natural place to start. The title itself is pretty ridiculous (“hoser” is a Canadian slang term that roughly means “loser” or “idiot”) and the premise is so nonsensical that it had to be that way by design. In a nutshell, two Canadian teenagers find themselves relying on their yoga training to defend themselves after the convenience store in which they both work is overtaken by genetically-engineered Nazi monsters made out of bratwurst. But, hey, I figured that this could be a Sharknado-type deal where the movie was so bad and ridiculous that it was kind of....good.
But here’s the kicker – this is a Kevin Smith movie. Clerks is an all-time favorite, and if anyone can make a funny movie out of something absurd, Kevin Smith would be that guy. I mean, the guy basically made a name for himself by following exactly that model. And then I took a look at the cast. Johnny Depp, Justin Long, and Tony Hale (Buster from Arrested Development) have minor but visible roles in this movie. They essentially save the first half of the movie from being utterly unwatchable. Stan Lee also makes a cameo for some reason. So I fired up Netflix with a little bit of hope that Smith and a decent supporting cast could maybe salvage what should have been, by all other accounts, just an unadulterated disaster.
There was really nothing redeeming in the first half of the movie. We meet Colleen Collette (Lily-Rose Depp) and Colleen McKenzie (Harley Quinn Smith), the aforementioned “yoga hosers.” They’re best friends and work together in the Eh-2-Zed convenience store in between their yoga sessions with Yogi Bayer (Justin Long). The first act really crawls along as we see how the Colleens navigate their high-school lives in Manitoba. The biggest problem was that I really couldn’t understand what this movie was “going for” for the first forty minutes or so. Obviously it was never meant to be a serious movie, but I wasn’t sure if we were supposed to get our laughs through jokes and situational humor (a la Clerks) or through Yoga Hosers functioning as a type of meta-satire. For instance, each actor’s Canadian “accent” is pretty much just their typical accents while throwing in “ah-boot” and “sore-ee.” I guess it could have been funny if they were meant to be that bad. But it wasn’t obvious that was the intention…or if the movie was just poorly acted. It all kind of missed the mark.
Eventually Guy Lapointe (Johnny Deep) tells the girls about a mysterious death in town (I’ll spare the details), and from this point on the movie actually starts to border on being okay. Spoiler alert, I guess? The girls get called in to work at the convenience store, one thing leads to another, and soon they’re wielding hockey sticks and fighting off miniature cloned Nazi bratwurst monsters. At this point it was obvious enough that Smith was going for a “so bad it’s good” vibe. The combat scenes are ridiculous, the dialogue is contrived, the on-screen graphics and music get louder, but I found myself chuckling and even starting to enjoy myself.
The movie is not laugh-out-loud funny at any point, and it still pales in comparison to Smith’s other work, but given my non-existent expectations literally as soon as I read the title, I’ll admit that it ended up being slightly better than expected. Harley Quinn Smith turns in a strong performance and has some decent comedic timing. Given that she’s only seventeen years old, she certainly seems to have a lot of potential for a promising career. Once the film stops trying to make jokes, and simply allows the audience to laugh at the film itself, it becomes much more effective. But the question then becomes, what was Kevin Smith’s purpose here? Clocking in at just over eighty minutes, and with the absolutely nonsensical plot, it never feels like a serious attempt to make a good movie. Two of the characters mention their disdain for “critics” of their work. Smith has had a contentious relationship with his critics at times throughout his career, and it seems likely that at least a portion of this film was directed to them. If he was intending to send them a message, it still seems unclear exactly what that message is. I just find it hard to believe that Smith would make what feels like a bad parody of his breakthrough hit Clerks without doing so deliberately.
Final verdict: It’s a short movie and it isn’t good. That being said, if you’re looking for a Sharknado type experience and a few laughs, there are worse ways to spend an hour and a half of your life. But if you enjoyed Clerks, Dogma, and Jay and Silent Bob Strike Back, this film will definitely have you wondering what’s up with Kevin Smith.
Audience Score: 39%
Nick Score: 30%
1 See Hoser, Urban Dictionary (May 5, 2007), http://www.urbandictionary.com/define.php?term=hoser.
2 So, yeah, Johnny Deppís daughter and Kevin Smithís daughter are the two lead actresses. I donít think the film industry has nepotism laws. See, e.g., The Godfather Part III, (1990).
3 We even get an "I'm not even supposed to be here today!" so that was a nice touch.
4 In my COMPLETELY unqualified opinion.