“This is what happens when you publish a poo…”
That’s a line from Yoga Hosers spoken by Johnny Depp’s Guy LaPointe, a ‘legendary man-hunter’ he’s reprising from Tusk. It’s a quote from a review of his new book, and it’s fair to say that Yoga Hosers’ notices have been similar.
But, in bashing this latest festival of weirdness from Kevin Smith, have reviewers been missing point?
Smith – who recently listed Yoga Hosers as a reason why he shouldn’t direct The Batman – is well aware that he’s made a naff film here. It plays like one of his weed-assisted podcast stories set to pictures (which, essentially, it is), and it feels like a group of mates – ideally inebriated ones – are the intended audience for it.
Indeed, as Guy reteams with Harley Quinn Smith’s Colleen McKenzie and Lily Rose Depp‘s Colleen Collette (a pair of Canadian convenience store clerks that helped him in Smith’s previous film) for an investigation involving murderous mini Nazis made of bratwurst, it’s easy to imagine dorm rooms erupting into giggles.
Watching Yoga Hosers outside of that environment isn’t always a fun experience. It’s like being the sober one at party full of drunks, as the same jokes are repeated multiple times with the laughs shrinking each time. The use of “basic” as an insult, the lampooning of Canadian speech patterns, and the sassy Instagram-inspired text that appears on screen gets very old very quickly, and then carries on for the next hour.
What works better is the chemistry between the young leads, with Smith Jnr and Depp Jnr clearly having a blast acting together for the first time. Even if it’s dressed up in smocks, hidden behind Canadian accents and obscured by an off-the-wall quest, there’s a genuine friendship there that’s highly enjoyable to watch. There’s a montage of them just mucking around near the start, and it’s arguably the high point of the film.
There are also all the cameos, references and in-jokes that you’d expect in a Kevin Smith film, your enjoyment of which will surely depend on your existing relationship with his body of work. I got a kick out of them, but if you’re not a fan of Smith, I doubt this’ll be the film to convert you. (And if you’re hoping for a return to the whip-smart comedic brilliance of his earlier films, this isn’t the film you’re looking for either.)
It all builds to a third act that feels like a meta reaction to Smith’s ‘haters’, a tribute to B-movie monster flicks and a collection of talented individuals just having a laugh: Depp chews so much scenery its remarkable there’s any set left, Smith himself brings high-pitched glee to the diminutive villains, and the pair of unlikely collaborators’ daughters do their best Batman impressions before partaking in a cheesy action sequence that Adam West would be proud of. And there’s an upping of stakes that offers some surprisingly impressive designs.
As this barnstorming crescendo draws the film to a close, with the help of Yoga Hosers’ third musical number, this writer found it hard to keep the smile from his face. It’s hard to put a finger on exactly why. The repetitive script did grate, the concept didn’t get any less dumb, and yet I still felt I’d had fun.
This is what happens when you film a poo: you get a completely off-the-wall movie that could be much better with a tighter script, and nearly flatlines in the middle, but somehow doesn’t feel like a waste of time. No one involved took it seriously, and the best way to watch it is by doing the same.
Yoga Hosers is released on digital download in the UK on 13th Feb.