'Yoga Hosers': Sundance Review
The teen daughters of Kevin Smith and Johnny Depp battle an army of foot-tall Nazis made of sausage.
Some fathers build their kids treehouses. Some daddies buy a pony for their little princess. Kevin Smith writes and directs a movie for his daughter to star in. And writes a part for her lifelong best friend. And, since that friend is Johnny Depp's daughter, he casts Depp as well — hell, let's get both the moms onscreen too, and give the kids some musical numbers to show off their inner rock star. In between the for-the-family fun, Smith's Yoga Hosers is something vaguely resembling a movie, one in which two girls who just want to go to a party with twelfth-graders wind up battling an army of knee-high Nazis made of sausage. Who love to kill strangers by crawling into men's rectums. Even fans who've stuck with Smith for two decades may draw the line at this outing, which offers ingredients just as inexplicable as those in Tusk (it's a sort of spinoff of that film) without the captivating weirdness that sometimes brought that midnighter to life. Commercial prospects are slim, unless it somehow strikes a chord with young girls. It is, after all, what Smith described in his introduction as "the movie I would have wanted to see back when I was a twelve year-old girl."
Harley Quinn Smith and Lily-Rose Depp play The Colleens, who reluctantly work behind the counter at the convenience store owned by Colleen C's dad. They're bored girls, always on their phones, who invent any excuse to put up a "temporarily closed" sign and go goof off in the back. Sound familiar? If only: After seeing what Smith comes up with to keep The Colleens occupied here, even moviegoers who once prayed he'd be able to move successfully beyond the Clerks universe may wish he'd simply rebooted the franchise with these two kids, Ghostbusters-style.
But no. After a few high-school-sucks scenes and an introduction to the strip-mall yoga studio the girls are obsessed with — run by Yogi Bayer (Justin Long), it teaches moves like "Pretentious Frog" and "Dissatisfied Customer" (and is not unfunny) — Smith slides into an action-horror plot he seems to have yanked out of the orifice his little sausage Nazis (make that "Brat-zis") so love to enter. The murderous little critters have something to do with the untold legacy of a Canadian Nazi party that almost got off the ground during WWII. If you're not following this, don't worry: There'll be a plenty-long exposition later, delivered by a Kraut scientist who communicates via impersonations of Al Pacino and Sly Stallone.
Canadian Nazi party, you say? Yes, Hosers is the densest embodiment yet of Smith's strange conviction that anything north of Niagara is good for a laugh. Shot in L.A. but set in Winnipeg, the pic offers more outrageously bad Canadian accents than a man named Gordon can shake a hockey stick at. Smith works "aboooot" and "soorry" into the script with as much frequency as "basic," the one bit of circa-2015 teen lingo he decided to adopt here.
The young leads seem to be having fun even if you aren't, but any acting careers they might go on to will not be the result of this film. Reprising his Tusk role, Johnny Depp acts as their bumbling chaperone throughout, under slightly better makeup and imitating Peter Falk a bit less than he did there. He gets a bit lost during the climax, as The Colleens have a 60s-Batman-inspired fracas with a monster dubbed the "Goalie Golem" (don't ask). But odds are good he'll return if Moose Jaws, the sequel promised in the closing credits, ever comes to pass.
Distributor: Destro Films
Cast: Lily-Rose Depp, Harley Quinn Smith, Johnny Depp, Tony Hale, Natasha Lyonne, Justin Long, Austin Butler, Tyler Posey, Adam Brody
Director-Screenwriter: Kevin Smith
Producers: Liz Destro, Jordan Monsanto, Jennifer Schwalbach
Executive producers: Charles Bonan, Kim Leadford, Tim Nye
Director of photography: James R. Laxton
Production designer: Cabot McMullen
Costume designer: Carol Beadle
Editor: Kevin Smith
Composer: Christopher Drake
Venue: Sundance Film Festival (Midnight)
Sales: WME, CAA