EIFF 2016: Yoga Hosers (2016)
The second film in writer-director Kevin Smith’s planned True North trilogy (with Tusk being the first and Moose Jaws being the third), Yoga Hosers is a marked step up from his previous outing. Although I enjoyed parts of Tusk, especially some of the commentary on what constitutes fame, and the price of fame, in the age of internet instant stars, it was far from my favourite movie from Smith. But that didn’t stop me from looking forward to this movie, although the first trailer released made me think twice.
Harley Quinn Smith and Lily-Rose Depp play Colleen and Colleen, two best friends who endure the drudgery of school through their mobile phones, endure their convenience store jobs by taking every opportunity to place a sign on the door and duck through to the back room to practice their music, and generally spend their time rolling their eyes every time someone else speaks to them. Anyone who saw Tusk will remember the two Colleens, and they will certainly remember Guy Lapointe (Johnny Depp), an idiosyncratic detective who comes into the plot here on the track of a dangerous serial killer. Oh, I almost forgot the central plot point – a number of small Nazi bratwurst people that tend to kill folks by entering through their rectum and working their way through the body until they exit at the other end. And yoga comes into play, of course.
As referential as ever, Smith here has set his sights on a wider selection of movies than ever before. He will always have his own back catalogue to riff on, of course, but there’s also a great Halloween homage, at least one nod to the Vacation movies, and a plot that unfolds exactly like hundreds of entertaining, dumb, horror movies from the ’80s. Intentional or not, I kept thinking of Sorority Babes In The Slimeball Bowl-O-Rama AKA The Imp. Yes, despite what some of you may think, I view that as a good thing. And those are just the references I can think of now. This will certainly prove to be a rewarding film to rewatch, for those who can appreciate it upon a first viewing. But, like most Smith movies, it’s certainly not for everyone.
Surprisingly effective in tonal footwork, Yoga Hosers is ninety percent all about teenage girls, and how they view the world revolving around them, and the other half* is a horror comedy. It doesn’t work all of the time, with a couple of indulgent moments that allow the girls to sing and dance and generally give off the air of having more fun than the audience, but it works for most of the runtime, if you don’t mind the constant jokes revolving around the Canadian way of life, and way of speaking. Unfortunately, the main scenes featuring the “Bratzis” also turn out to be some of the weaker moments, although the finale makes up for things with a wonderful bit of practical FX work, because there’s either no sense of threat or too few gags that work when the Colleens realise they have to start killing the little guys.
The leads are okay, especially when more relaxed and seeming to naturally interact with one another, and Depp has a lot of fun again in his role, complete with roving facial moles. Justin Long is hilarious in almost every scene he has, as an atypical yoga instructor, and there are some great supporting turns from Natasha Lyonne, Tony Hale, and Ralph Garman (as well as Haley Joel Osment, Vanessa Paradis, Adam Brody, Austin Butler, Tyler Posey, and one or two others).
At this point in time, despite one or two mis-steps here and there, I guess I just have to accept that Smith makes movies that I enjoy. Even Jersey Girl. He’s uneven, his style is unglamorous, and he doesn’t ever pass up an opportunity to call out the critics (which happens again here), but he’s an interesting guy with a great, twisted, sense of humour. And he cares not one bit whether you like his movies or not, because he knows that someone will. Even if it ends up just being himself. Although I hope that others enjoy this slice of lunacy as much as I did.
*It’s a reference to a gag in the film, watch it before pulling me up on my mathematics.
Yoga Hosers is showing at 2050 on 21st June in Filmhouse 1, and at 1800 on 25th June at Cineworld.
WRITER/DIRECTOR: KEVIN SMITH
STARS: HARLEY QUINN SMITH, LILY-ROSE DEPP, JOHNNY DEPP, NATASHA LYONNE, TONY HALE, HALEY JOEL OSMENT, JUSTIN LONG, VANESSA PARADIS, RALPH GARMAN
RUNTIME: 88 MINS APPROX