On Tuesday night we were lucky enough to be among the sold-out audience within The Prince Charles Cinema for the London Premiere of the second instalment in Kevin Smith’s True North trilogy, Yoga Hosers. Not only were we among the first UK audiences to see the film, but Kevin Smith and Harley Quinn Smith were also both in attendance for an introduction and a Q&A post-screening.
As you’ve no doubt inferred from the above, we are huge Kevin Smith fans, and this is undoubtedly a film that is made for his fans, but it’s a film that was primarily made – as Kevin himself explained – for himself;
“I never underwent my experimental period, having done everything backwards. This is now my experimental period… I made this for myself; this is the kind of film that I would have wanted to see in my youth.”
Below you will find our spoiler-heavy review of Kevin Smith’s Yoga Hosers.
Yoga Hosers opens with what is immediately evident as one of it greatest strengths – the girls jamming together in their own amateur band (with Adam Brody on the drums no less). The girl’s sing several times during the film, including during the film’s credits and it’s really easy to get swept up in their glee and in their superb performances. Our favourite of these was their rendition of Anthrax’s I’m the Man, which is not a song that you would expect two teenage girls to choose to cover, and we actually loved their version more than the original.
From there, Smith keeps the fun and comedy levels high. The humour is mostly on point (only one or two moments had us thinking the jokes were cheesy) and had the audience (albeit an audience full of Kevin Smith-addicts) rolling in laughter throughout.
While Tusk was a serious horror that was just set in Canada, Yoga Hosers really strives hard to satirise the Canadian nation, but in a really endearing, respectful way, and this works really well. This is at its best when Smith highlights how Canadian are forever ineffably polite and prone to apologising all the time. Smith has one character (Austin Butler) scream at another (Tyler Posey), then gather himself together, as if realising that he was acting un-Canadian, and apologise with a “sorr-ry”. He also has the girls apologise with “sorry ‘boot that” to every single customer who walks through their door after they have been closed for a while. Which will no doubt remind you of Clerks.
And make no mistake – the Clerks comparisons are high, almost to the point where this is bascially of Smith making a female version of Clerks (Clerks II held female characters, but not in the core lead roles). The girls close the store with whacky lies pinned up on the door, they are apathetic about their jobs, and Colleen McKenzie even screams “I’m not even supposed to be here today!” in a direct call back to Smith’s debut film.
You could argue that Smith leans too heavily on his debut (Clerks II, the talk of Clerks III, and now Yoga Hosers), which is a film that we like, but which is among our lesser favourites of his catalogue. Smith pointed out in his talk that the girls’ scene in Tusk drew him in and that Jenn (Smith’s wife) pointed out that this was its similarity to Clerks. Remembering that Smith made this film for himself, the strong Clerks theme makes sense.
We’re thankful that the idea struck him to make this spin-off for the two Colleens, because not only did we enjoy the film immensely, but it highlights two talents that otherwise might have gone unnoticed. Harley really puts her all into this role and comes across as far more than just “the director’s daughter”. Lily-Rose Melody Depp has that look of a star about her (and an even more famous Father), which makes you surprised to hear that she didn’t even show an interest in acting and was only called in front of the camera on a whim by Kevin, for Tusk, so that he could provide Johnny Depp with the opportunity to work with his daughter.
Smith revealed to us the story of how he managed to get Johhny Depp in his films, which was a culmination of the girls happening to be in the same class at school and Smith taking the “who would I cast if I had no barriers at all” approach. Guy LaPointe is undoubtedly one of the ingenious additions to Smith’s True North trilogy. He is arguably the backbone of the project and we feel that he is one of Smith’s greatest creations (and one of Depp’s most fun performances).
We adored LaPointe in Tusk and Depp got to run even wilder with the character here – even going as far as to Smith allowing Depp to move the moles on LaPointe’s face for every scene, which is something that we noticed very quickly in the film, and Guy having released a book in between Tusk and this film about how he caught the prior film’s killer.
The way in which Smith acquired Johnny Depp was an inspiration to listen to, as was most of Kevin’s talk that night. He spoke of how to try your hand at those things that you always wanted to do but never thought that you could do and that spending your currency in the form of your individual voice is a essential and liberating. We listen to most of Smith’s podcasts, on which he has spoken similar words, but hearing them in person made them ring even more profound. We took along someone who had never heard of Smith in their life and even they came away singing his praises as a public speaker and a motivator.
To address the film’s whackiest addition (yes, even whackier than LaPointe), this is surely the “Bratzis”, which are miniature Nazis, made out of bratwurst sausages. It’s an out-there concept and one no doubt inspired by Smith and Ralph Garman’s Nazi jokes within their Hollywood Babble-On podcast. Whilst we did enjoy the braztis providing a reason for the girl to go badass with sticks, we did feel that the point at which the braztis were introduced fully did lower the quality of the film a little.
Smith then brings in Ralph Garman – his Hollywood Babble-On companion who he forever promises to give a speaking role – as the head Nazi who froze himself for many years, then came out of hibernation and made these small Nazi minions. Being big Hollywood Babble-On fans, Garman’s presence was a thrill for us, but as much as we love his impressions on the podcast, we did feel like they were very shoe-horned in here and that the film would have benefitted from Garman just playing a straight up Nazi, rather than one who imitates American actors’ accents.
It’s almost as if Smith was trying to recreate the Hollywood Babble-On TV show that almost happened but fell through, but this is the wrong place to be trying something like this.
Truly, Kevin brings the Bratzis and Garman’s Nazi in (ignoring the braztis attacking people along the way) at a much later point in the film that we expected, which leads you to feel that if he had left themout entirely (including the strange giant creature with the hockey mask), then this might have changed Yoga Hosers form a very good film to a great film. We’re all for Kevin’s sense of humour and his experimental phase, but we just felt that the film’s strengths laid more in the girls and their lives than in the crazy Nazi antagonists.
The film is littered with other actors from Tusk too; from Justin Long, to Geniro Rodriguez, to Haley Joel Osment – most of the main cast are there, but they play entirely different roles to their characters within Tusk. This gives the whole trilogy a very anthology feel, which we love.
The third and final film in the trilogy will be Moose Jaws, which will be “like Jaws, but with a moose”. We know how big a fan of Jaws Kevin is and we adore this concept. What the tone for this final film will be, however, is anyone’s guess. Tusk was a very serious film at heart and Yoga Hosers is a full on comedy, so we’re unsure at which end of the spectrum Moose Jaws will fall. Given that Jaws is a very serious film, we hope that Kevin takes that approach. The comedy can remain under the surface, like in Tusk, and we can be treated to another true Kevin Smith horror film.
We absolutely adored Yoga Hosers and the unabashed joy that it provided. It really cements the True North trilogy at something throughly daring and wonderfully diverse. Where Tusk is a smart and refined horror, Yoga Hosers is a teen comedy that holds charm, smarts and most importantly: heaps of fun.
We can foresee ourselves watching this film over and over once we get our hands on a hard copy, which speaks to its quality. Apart from pleasing Smith fans everywhere, it might also have sparked the promising careers of Harley Quinn Smith and Lily-Rose Melody Depp. No other director in cinema is providing such under the radar gems as Kevin has been from Red State onwards and few directors in Hollywood are as underrated as Smith is right now.
Image credits: Abbolita Productions, Destro Films, Invincible Pictures, Smodcast Pictures, Starstream Media, XYZ Films