by Patrick Bromley
It's seems as though it's impossible nowadays to talk about a new Kevin Smith movie without also reviewing his entire career -- how he got his start, how so many of his movies are (by his own admission) artistically challenged, how he has built up his own cult of personality and, especially, the most recent incarnation of his career, which finds him making crazy, possibly self-indulgent movies inspired by podcasts and a newfound pot habit for an increasingly limited audience. The majority of reviews I've read for his last two movies, 2014's guy-is-turned-into-a-walrus comedy/horror hybrid Tusk and now Yoga Hosers, have spent more words attacking Smith for the direction of his career than actually discussing the movies he's making. The question many of these writers eventually land on is some version of "How dare he?" Should Smith be making these "glorified home movies," casting his kid and his friends, telling stories only he might be interested in seeing played out based on goofy conversations he has on his popular podcast?
My answer is yes.
Harley Quinn and Lily-Rose play Colleen M. and Colleen C., respectively, reprising their roles as the bored teenage employees of the Canadian convenience store Eh-2-Zed first seen in Tusk (the movie represents the middle chapter of what Smith is calling his "True North Trilogy"). Here they spend there days hating work, checking their phones, Instagramming possible outfits and playing in a garage band called Glamthrax. A pair of seniors invite them to a party that isn't what they think it is at the same time that a group of Canadian Nazis (led by Smith's "Hollywood Babble-On" co-host Ralph Garman trotting out as many shitty impressions as he can in his limited screen time) has created a race of tiny, monstrous sausages called "Brazis." It's up to the Colleens -- with an assist by returning Inspector Guy LaPointe (Johnny Depp) -- to save the day and return Canada to its former glory.
What else? Well, the CGI is among the worst I've seen in a finished movie that has actual movie stars in it. It ultimately doesn't matter, as one doesn't really walk away from Yoga Hosers thinking "I would have loved it but the quality of the CGI sauerkraut kept pulling me out of the movie." The exposition is handled clumsily, with two seemingly endless scenes in which characters just dump all the backstory over a series of flashbacks (including one with Haley Joel Osment doing a bad French accent, because this is a movie with no shortage of bad accents). And while some of the technical aspects of filmmaking have never been Smith's highest priority, Yoga Hosers finds the director re-teaming with James Laxton (his cinematographer for Tusk, Smith's best-looking movie) for a film that doesn't always move particularly well but which is bright and candy-colored in a really fun way.
What he wants to get right more than anything is the friendship between the two Colleens, and that's my favorite thing about Yoga Hosers. Almost all of Smith's movies are, at the end of the day, love stories among friends -- Clerks, Mallrats, Jay and Silent Bob Strike Back, Zack and Miri Make a Porno, Clerks II -- and while I've no doubt there are critics who are accusing the director of covering well-worn territory (particularly because the main characters are employees of a convenience store, meaning Smith is back where he started), he's never told this kind of story about teenage girls. In fact, most filmmakers haven't. The majority of movies we get about teenage girls are comedies in which they are awful or coming of age stories in which they learn the world is a terrible place. Yoga Hosers is more interested in celebrating female friendship: the Colleens don't like the same boy, they don't have a falling out, they don't bicker or stab one another in the back. Instead we get montages of them having fun together, supporting one another and teaming up to defeat evil. It's what I believe the Spice Girls once referred to as "girl power."
So, yes, Kevin Smith is now in his DGAF period. And even though I'm mixed in my reactions to both of his last two efforts (I like Yoga Hosers overall and may never sort out my feelings about Tusk), I would so much rather he get to make the exact movies he wants to make instead of trying to fit into our ideas of what a "Kevin Smith movie" should be (Zack & Miri) or, even worse, taking generic for-hire gigs (Cop Out). I love movies because I love to see artists express themselves, and even if the movies end up not being for me I'd rather an artist get to express him or herself in as pure a form as possible. I find Yoga Hosers to be sweet, personal filmmaking disguised (and sometimes not) as something dumb. I like the movie. I may not like the next one, or the five movies Kevin Smith makes after that, but I hope he gets to keep making them just the way he wants. And I'm not sorey about that. Not sorey at all.