What do you get when two teenage yoga enthusiasts (Lily-Rose Depp and Harley Quinn Smith) join forces with a legendary man hunter (Johnny Depp) to fight Nazi minions made of bratwurst, in The Great White North? You get Yoga Hosers, written and directed by Kevin Smith. But, do you also get the humor-packed, surreal story you expect from such a promising setup? Or, do you get something more like the movie’s undercooked National Socialist sausages, creating a motif less appetizing?
“…this isn’t the real world…this is Canada.” ~ The Colleens
As Yoga Hosers begins, we meet the two Colleens – Collette (Depp) and McKenzie (Smith)— jamming and singing in a back room of the “Eh 2 Zed” convenient store where they work. After hearing the whole song, and getting an awesome drum finale from the teen band’s 35-year-old drummer (Yeah, that’s funny!), the movie begins with a kind of concert high and overt humor that builds great expectations. Yes! These girls clerk the checkout counter as a team, with redundancy squared, taking on-the-clock breaks more often than waiting on customers. Signs on the door read, among other things “Be back later. Period with heavy flow.” If their iphones are taken, smelling salts are needed.
Soon enough, “Eh 2 Zed” is found to be built over a the underground hideout of a mad Nazi scientist planning to take over Canada with bratwurst midgets (Bratzis), after a hundred years of cryogenic sleep. He plans to do all of this, even though his minions, awakened early by a fuse blown during a Colleen concert, are undercooked. With their small-sized bodies, the Bratzis burrow through butts, churning entrails to mush, as victims scream in agony (and somehow this is funny). Can things get any crazier than this? Actually, no…and all the better for the movie, as well!
“You live on your phones. You have no idea how to function like real people, in the real world.” ~ Ms. Wicklund
The blonde duo of quipping Colleens could never be portrayed better than they are by Lily-Rose Depp (daughter of Johnny Depp) and Harley Quinn Smith (daughter of Kevin Smith). If the movie falls short anywhere, it is NOT because of these two. Depp and Smith give the roles all they’ve got, fully invested, even when the script fails them and the jokes are no longer funny. Quick wit and sarcasm, along with spot-on camp and condescension, create personalities that entertain with stamina. Even when the movie begins to drag, with predictable events and zero suspense, it’s hard to get tired of watching the Colleens.
Johnny Depp (father of Lily-Rose Depp) is in incognito, and nearly unrecognizable, as legendary man hunter Guy Lapointe. If I hadn’t known he was in the movie, I might never have known it was him. Depp delivers his usual standout performance, amazingly while playing it low key, complete with facial ticks and mannerisms, giving subtle but strong personality to Guy. As an overarching irony (and possible element of humor), with his title of world-renowned man hunter, Guy did very little to hunt or apprehend anyone. I’m also suspecting that Depp’s larger role in the movie was the result of his daughter having a starring role. In any case, Depp’s appearance helps the movie tremendously.
“I’m not even supposed to be here today!” ~ Colleen M.
Although you’ll barely notice the resemblance, director Kevin Smith plays the part of every cloned Bratzi, saying something I can’t understand (possibly in German), each time he emerges from the mouth of a victim. Justin Long (Jeepers Creepers, Drag Me to Hell) plays the Colleen’s bohemian-style yoga coach, Yogi Bayer, defending his name against copyright infringement more often than teaching yoga. Superhero creator Stan Lee does an unexpected cameo as a curmudgeonly police dispatcher, delivering a single line–“God@#@ yogo hosers”–during a 911 call from the Colleens. Kevin Smith’s sidekick Jason Mewes plays the part of a “rogue cop,” barely noticeable if you blink. Natasha Lyonne (The Slums of Beverly Hills, The Simpsons) is the jealous girlfriend of Colleen C.’s father, outstanding in the small role she has. Vanessa Paradis (Johnny Depp’s ex girlfriend and mother of Lily-Rose) plays the part of a savy, wiser-than-everyone-else French teacher at the local high school. Jennifer Schwalbach Smith (wife of Kevin Smith and real mother of Harley Quinn) plays the role of Ms. McKenzie, the mother of Colleen M. Yes! Yoga Hosers is also a reunion of family and friends, as much as it is a movie about teen BFFs saving The Great White North.
Deserving a paragraph of his own is Ralph Garman, as Andronicus Arcane, the evil Nazi scientist. In a scene that should be more nail-biting suspense, Garman steals the show with impersonations of multiple celebrities, including Arnold Achwarzenegger, Sylvester Stallone, and Robert De Niro. While this would be a perfect act in a variety show, it goes on too long in Yoga Hosers, distracting from the plot, making it impossible to worry about the fate of the imperiled Colleens.
“Haters have got to hate, like the douches have to douche. That’s the life, right there in a nutshell.” ~ Guy Lapointe
Areas for improvement? Yes! One major problem with the movie is that there is never really a problem. The two Colleens kick Nazi ass so fast that a need for worry never occurs. With such speed of victory, there’s not even time to root for them, before they’re winning. One murderous bratwurst after another is squashed effortlessly. A quasi threat from Satan-worshiping seniors is ended too quickly for concern, squandering yet another opportunity for suspense at knife point. An encounter with a Bratzi-filled Jason Voorhees ends with Colleen heroics as fast as a kid wacks a pinata. The final scene, with the Colleens held captive by Arcane, is wasted with the aforementioned impersonations of Ralph Garman. In short, as are the moments of possible danger, there’s never a reason to worry about the girls…not even once. Couldn’t just one Bratzi have gotten his sausage-filled head anywhere near the backside of a screaming Colleen? What fun is there when the heroes win every time, never needing to cover their asses, even once?
On IMDb, the tagline for Yoga Hosers attempts to save the movie from itself: “A movie for kids from the director of Clerks and Tusk.” Possibly, as a kid’s movie, it doesn’t need as much of what we want as adults. Possibly, greater danger and closer calls at death are more for prime time than kid’s time. The problem with that lies in the fact that Yoga Hosers also isn’t enough like a “kid’s movie” to be that either. Overt references to satanism from senior heartthrob Hunter Calloway (Austin Butler), as he holds a knife, ready to impale Colleen M., seem too much for kids. Nazi minions that burrow into anuses (using their pointed sausage heads), churning entrails to mush as they dig, emerging finally from the mouth, are way beyond child entertainment. (At least one Bratzi is even wearing a WWI spiked, pickelhaube helmet. Ouch!) Yes! There’s a total lack of blood from humans, made more unrealistic with cartoonish, geometric shapes, exploding from squashed sausage men (possibly meant to be CGI sauer kraut). However, even that doesn’t make the movie’s implied and actual violence better for kids. Perhaps the trailer has a more honest explanation of the movie’s intended “kid” audience: “FOR @$?!ED-UP KIDS.” Perhaps, these days, it’s as a much of a synonym for adults!
“All you need to handle any situation in life are the Warrior 1 and Warrior 2 positions…Master those, and you will master anyone who gives you $h!t.” ~ Yogi Bayer
The movie’s multiple genres of “comedy, fantasy, horror, thriller” listed on IMDb further underscore its undefined audience and diminished effect; they only add to the confusion about what the movie is, exactly. Since it also involves Nazi sausage men made from a mad scientist’s DNA (all of which have been cryogenically frozen for the future), I would also, to make things worse, add science fiction to the genre. Perhaps as a failed reference to history, the WWII Bratzis wear red uniforms with Sam Brown belts unlike anything worn by Germans in any war. Why? Perhaps, it’s to make them look more like Canadian Mounties, instead. Oh, and again, other than to imply more pain during anal burrowing, why is a Bratzi seen wearing a WWI German pickelhaube helmet? Yes! Due to the eclectic uniforms, and adding to the tone of the movie, the Bratzis look more like clowns than anything historically accurate. But, in a movie like Yoga Hosers, who cares?
One area where Yoga Hosers definitely nails its goal is with potty humor…or, the way it is covered up. Whenever someone says a “bad word,” rather than being bleeped out, it is “pooped out.” An emoticon depicting a pile of poop, complete with a happy face, appears over the speaker’s mouth, accompanied by a sound often heard in video games. A scene where the Colleens talk to Guy Lapointe about going to the restroom together to watch each other poop (as if it’s totally normal) is another high point of the movie’s humor. The Colleen’s blasé attitude about this, along with Lapointe’s surprise, make it a scene to remember and laugh about, long after the movie is over.
“Nein, nein, nein! So much nein, it’s almost ten!” ~ Andronicus Arcane
A running joke that’s funny in the beginning, running out of steam long before the end, is the use of the word “about,” stressing the Canadian accent that pronounces it “aboot” or “a boat.” I laughed the first time, the second time, the third and so on; but, eventually, it wore off its welcome for laughs. Yes! I know this is a normal Canadian dialect, and humor about it is questionable, especially with the hypersensitivity to such cultural things today. If it had been more incidental, with humor being the same, it would have, perhaps, endured for the length of the movie. However, the problem is only with “aboot” being used and stressed so much, milking viewers for a laugh just as hard every time. A less pretentious approach to the preposition, perhaps, would have kept us laughing longer. Perhaps!
Do questions remain? As always, yes! Will the evil scientist Nazify all of Canada, starting another world war? Will the Bratzi’s kill every male in The Great White North, burrowing through their anuses, leaving only women to fight and carry the flag? Or, will the two Colleens kick Bratzi butt, squashing every clone with efficiency, wiping their DNA from yoga hosing history? Or, will the Colleen’s and Guy Lapointe return for a yoga hosing sequel, continuing to make us laugh, somehow, with the word “aboot”? Nobody knows; but, funny it is to wonder, all the same!
“Senior boys only invite sophomore girls to parties for one thing.” ~ Ms. McKenzie
Yoga Hosers is an entertaining but uneven mixture of genres, too diluted by its variety to be much of anything in particular. As a comedy, it isn’t funny enough. As horror, it isn’t scary at all…and makes no attempts to be. In fantasy, it only dabbles. As a thriller, it isn’t thrilling enough, allowing it’s heroines to escape danger, every time, almost as soon it begins. If Hosers had continued with the type of campy humor it started with, it could have at least succeeded as a comedy; but, sadly, the humor gets lost in everything else it tries to be. Overall, Yoga Hosers defies the odds working against it to be entertaining, if not memorable or succeeding in a particular genre. A jack of all trades and a master of none, perhaps, has never been so well done in cinema.