Jay and Silent Bob Strike Back
Zack and Miri Make a Porno
Sometimes you watch a movie for the plot despite the actors. Sometimes you watch a movie for the actors notwithstanding the plot. Then there are those films in which both sides come together and you get something magnificent.
Anyone can come up with a short list of movies that fall in these three categories. Of the dozen films Kevin Smith has made to date, you can put them all into these categories. Where would you put Yoga Hosers, the 2016 movie starring Harley Quinn Smith (Smith's daughter) and Lily-Rose Depp (Johnny Depp's daughter)?
Lily-Rose (Colleen) and Harley (also Colleen) reprise their roles from 2014's Tusk as clerks in the Canadian convenience store called Eh-2-Zed. They're sophomores in high school who spend their lives on their phones, in the company of Yogi Bayer practicing yoga, and doing the same things Dante and Randal did in the 1994 movie, Clerks: passing through life with a jaded eye towards everything other than their phones, yoga, singing in a rock band, and each other.
Imagine their great delight when a pair of seniors invites them to a party. Imagine their chagrin when Lily-Rose's dad (owner of the store) suddenly leaves town with his younger wife (store manager), leaving the Colleens with only one choice: work at the store but invite the boys to bring the party to the store.
Except the boys want to kill them for...reasons. Actually, they're Satanists. But the evil lads are killed by...wait for it...sentient Nazi bratwursts, nicknamed Bratzis.
I shit you not.
Setting plot aside, the two leads have great chemistry together. I think I remember Smith on a podcast talking about the two girls are actual friends in real life. They play and riff off each other so well that even if it isn't true, it should be. Maybe it is now that they've done two movies together.
I really enjoyed seeing the updated version of clerks circa 2016 vs. 1994. Way less pop culture, but way more indifference. Where Randal (in Clerks) all but hated lots of humanity for the things we do, the Colleens just don't care. They'd much rather do their own thing in their own bubble. Consciously or not, Smith created two pairs of characters, nearly a quarter century apart, that encapsulate a certain sector of culture. It's both weird and troubling. We as a society went from active dislike to apathy. Damn.
Be that as it may, I thoroughly enjoyed watching both Harley and Lily-Rose on screen. I know there is a third movie coming--Moose Jaws--and I'll be watching that purely to see these two actresses perform together. A highlight of the movie.
Johnny Depp's in this movie, too. He reprises his role as Guy LaPointe from Tusk. He is the only one who believes the story the Colleens' spin about evil Bratzis. Given how much fun Depp had in Tusk, he seems to have more fun here. It must have been fun for him to hide behind the prosthetics and makeup and just make a silly movie without the world watching.
Stan Lee makes a cameo! And Kevin Conroy, with a young lad named Robin! But there is one actor I've been looking forward to seeing most of all.
Mr. Ralph Freaking Garman
Finally, Kevin Smith writes some dialogue for his good friend and Babble Brother.
In real time (as in when these movies were being made and discussed), Ralph and Kevin would talk about Ralph being in the various movies. Imagine my surprise when I finally watched them this year that Ralph's roles in Red State (no dialogue) and Tusk (little dialogue) were so small. No so with Yoga Hosers.
He's the main villain, Andronicus Arcane, a Nazi who put himself in cryogenic freeze only to be accidentally defrosted in 2016. In many glorious minutes, Ralph gets to do some of his best impressions. Arcane, a German, reveals his plan to the captured Colleens and LaPointe. In a bid to help them be more at ease (as if being handcuffed to a chair in a subterranean Canadian bunker wasn't bad enough), Arcane/Ralph does Al Pacino, Sylvester Stallone, and Arnold Schwarzenegger.
Now, I've never seen a live Hollywood Babble On or The Ralph Report (my review) live so I've never seen Ralph do these impressions. Now I have. So good. Visually, Ralph somehow makes his face look like these actors, especially Stallone. One of the best things about the entire movie, and the only part I've watched more than once.
I enjoyed watching Yoga Hosers even if I rolled my eyes at some of the moments, even if I checked my phone a la the Colleens, even if I caught up on Words With Friends during some parts. It was ...just okay. I can't imagine I'll be re-watching Yoga Hosers again.
As an independent writer, I am all for creating whatever type of art you like and then see if there are folks who like and enjoy it. Thus, I have no issue with this film being made. If that's what Smith wants to do and he can get all the folks involved to make it, so be it. Good on him.
But it comes across as not worthy of his talents.
I'll be honest: while I don't count Clerks among my favorite of Smith's films, that movie is better than Yoga Hosers. Clerks had a style, a vibe, something to say. Yoga Hosers, while being fun to watch, is kind of like a student film when the director gathers a bunch of friends and just puts something together. Dogma--which I don't love--is chock full of great Smith quotes and dialogue. Ditto for Tusk despite the premise, Heck, even Red State--which I actively dislike and will likely forever hold the mark as my least favorite Kevin Smith film--is a better-made movie than this.
Which brings me back to the question I posed at the top of this review. Yoga Hosers is definitely a movie you watch for the actors and performances and not for the plot. There's not much there. Heck, there's more in Tusk than here. This will likely be the "early film" in the dual careers of Lily-Rose Depp and Harley Quinn Smith.
And that's it for the Great Kevin Smith Movie Catch-Up for 2019. Next up for me is Jay and Silent Bob Reboot here in Houston on 30 October. Expect a review on 6 November.
In lieu of a review next Wednesday, I'll post my Top 12 list of all of Smith's films. We all know the last one, but what film will occupy the top spot. As of this writing, even I don't know (even though I have my Top 3 set).