Yoga Hosers (Movie Review)

Yoga Hosers (Movie Review)
5 10

Check out Cody Hamman's review HERE.

PLOT: In the Great White North, a pair of 15 year old female besties become gravely imperiled when their convenient store is overrun by murderous Nazi bratwursts.

REVIEW: It's always a vexing proposition to lambaste a substandard movie from a filmmaker you've supported for more than half of your life. And ever since the woefully anodyne studio debacle COP OUT, the prevailing proviso seems to suggest that writer/director Kevin Smith has irreversibly fallen off course. A course that once paved the way for the insular, self-contained mass-media entertainment known as the View Askewniverse. That said, I dug RED STATE quite a bit, ran rather tepid with TUSK, and now, in his second leg of what he's deeming The Great North Trilogy - Smith has delivered in YOGA HOSERS a top-heavy, mildly amusing farcical cartoon that pulls us in far stronger than it sends us off. That is, as an angst-ridden coming of age high-school comedy, the first half of the flick prevails, in large part due to the undeniable shorthand between its two stars and childhood friends, Harley Quinn Smith and Lily-Rose Depp. However, as soon as the story veers into the lunacy of its "horror" contrivances, the movie's nepotistic self-indulgence and tangential subplots utterly undo all the good that preceded it. In the end, like all polarizing voices, YOGA HOSERS isn't likely to rouse anyone but Smith's most ardent acolytes. It may also lose some.

Meet the two Colleens - Collette (Depp) and McKenzie (Smith) - a pair of inveterate yogis who work the register at a maple syrup convenient store in Canada called the "Eh 2 Zed." As we open, the two gals strap up the Fenders and rock out in the backroom - a tattooed Adam Brody on drums - in almost an unabashed, guilty-pleasure tonality. We can certainly sense the silliness to come. Soon we learn Colleen M has a crush on a cute upperclassman named Hunter Calloway (Austin Butler) - a surprising dead ringer for a young Jason Mewes - and will do almost anything to attend the "grade 12" party he invited her to. Thing is, Colleen C's way-too-Canadian dad Bob (Tony Hale) and conniving stepmother Tabitha (Natasha Lyonne) saddle the poor girl with a work-shift at the "Zed" while they visit Niagara Falls. Bummer, ay? Thinking fast, the two iPhone addicted quipsters implore Hunter to bring the party to the store. He does, sort of, but not without pal Gordon Greenleaf (Tyler Posey) and a mere modicum of danger.

Indeed, quite wee are the feisty foes that soon follow. But first, we meet Yogi Bayer (Justin Long), the pseudo-bohemian yoga instructor the girls study under, his stupid tutelage of which comes into play, Miyagi style, when the two Colleens are put in peril near the end. As a dude rocking a John Kreese "sweep the leg" shirt while watching the flick, trust, the irony was not lost. We also reunite with Guy Lapointe (Johnny Depp), the bushy-browed buffoon and known "man hunter" who we last saw in Smith's TUSK. Here he's been summoned after an Eh 2 Zed customer ends up hacked to tiny little pieces and left to rot in the woods nearby. We're then treated to an asinine and momentum-killing expositional backlog about a Canadian Nazi subculture that has forged underground in the decades since WWII. This leads us to yet another tangential self-indulgence, as Smith's longtime Hollywood Babble On podcast mate Ralph Garman shows up as the grand Nazi mastermind who has been dispensing evil little bratwurst-monsters on a Canadian kill craze. Smith even caters to what Garman does best, impersonations, and we're given the gamut from Al Pacino and Arnold Schwarzenegger to Sly Stallone and Paul Lynde. Pretty impressive in-joke on its own, but just like an early Haley Joel Osment flashback sequence, seems to have absolutely zero warrant belonging to this film.

Opining further, neither do any of the so-called horror elements Smith weaves into the narrative. For what it's worth, the movie is at its best when Depp and Smith are demonstrating their natural lifelong chemistry; bonding over boys, playing music, trading witty and not so witty banter, etc. Had the movie merely followed their Hughesian high-school exploits and continued to track their snarkily echoed voices of disaffected youth, the movie would have likely maintained its more than adequate entertainment value throughout. Alas, once the cartoonish genre conventions take hold, the movie interminably suffers. Not just in terms of the unnecessarily sidetracked back-stories said conventions must bandy, or even in terms of how silly, nonthreatening and downright obnoxious the Bratzi's come off as (played by Smith himself), but ultimately from the final baddie itself - the Goalie Gollum - there's never a scintilla of real terror that allows for a rooting interest in our two lead gals. Worse yet is the humor, Depp's comedic stylings in specific - the laid back demeanor, the wild hodgepodge of accents, the facial tics, etc. - while funny early on, are literally reduced to the MEN IN TIGHTS sight-gag of ever-growing moles that, from shot to shot, appear and reappear on different places on his face by the end. In microcosm of the flick as a whole, not Smith's finest or most original moment.

Which sort of smarts, particularly given the genuine handful of laughs experienced in the first half hour or so. A passel of in-joke sight-gags and View Askewniverse call backs kept a grin on my mug for good stretches, the fondest being a Chewlies gum decal posted across a row of coolers. If you're already a fan of Smith's world, you'll likely find delight. If not, you're bound to be lost at best, irked at worst. This along with the constant barrage of lighthearted Canadian ribbing - every character over-enunciates "aboot" and "ay" - while annoying at times, still manages to elicit some decent laughs for at least half of the way. It's just that, without his trademark potty-mouthed quips and crackling dialogue, the generic PG-13 humor in the back-half of the film tends to wear way too thin to remain enthused about. And with the dampening subplots that detract from the drive of the primary narrative, what we're left with is a stultifying, half-baked order of self-indulgent slop. That said, a wise choice of Smith's was to never drastically change tones, but to keep the horror as light and fluffy as the comedy. Had he gone the other way, we'd be suffering not from just an ultimately unfunny movie, but un-amusing, tone-deaf mess. By keeping the horror silly and slapstick, at least there's a tonal consistency all the way through. Puerile, sophomoric, incorrigible...but consistent.

Stated plainly, if you're a fervent Smith completist, give YOGA HOSERS and all its noxious emissions a peep. If not, this is by no means a catalytic converter.

Extra Tidbit: YOGA HOSERS drops into theaters September 2, 2016.
Source: AITH



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