When the mysterious Canadian Nazi Andronicus Arcane (Ralph Garman) reveals the stomach-churning creature he has stitched together from the bodies of his murder victims during the dramatic climax of “Yoga Hosers,” he orders the monster to murder all “haters and critics.” With that in mind, this critic will proceed with caution.
“Honestly, ‘Yoga Hosers’ is the movie I wanted to see back when I was a 12 year old girl,” director Kevin Smith told audiences before a recent screening of the feature. Similarly, he opined, “’Clerks’ was just a desperate act of somebody who wanted to see the movie ‘Clerks.’” Making movies for Kevin Smith is what Kevin Smith does best, and for many years it worked. Early critical successes “Clerks” and “Chasing Amy” captured the folly of youth from Smith’s erudite loser point of view. The phone-addicted heroines in “Yoga Hosers,” however, could have used a bit more erudite and a little less loser.
A spinoff of a scene from his 2014 Sundance film “Tusk,” “Yoga Hosers” stars Smith’s daughter, Harley Quinn Smith, and Johnny Depp’s daughter, Lily-Rose Depp. The two teens are friends in real life, and had such great chemistry onscreen in “Tusk” that Smith decided to write them a movie. Because you can do that for your kid when you’re a movie director. The result is a star-studded collage of disparate sketches, the only thing holding each together being each wildly differing Canadian accent.
In an homage to “Clerks,” Colleen M. (Smith) and Colleen C. (Depp) work the register at the Eh-2-Zed, a convenience store in Winnipeg. When the dreamy Hunter Calloway (Austin Butler) invites them to a senior party, the sophomore Colleens are ecstatic. But Colleen C.’s dad, played to great comic effect by Tony Hale, enlists them to work on a Friday night when his girlfriend (Natasha Lyonne) whisks him away to Niagra Falls for a surprise weekend getaway (one small upside to the film is the unadulterated joy Hale exhibits for Niagra Falls, which is particularly amusing). When the girls invite Hunter to “the Zed” for a party of their own, things take a turn for the strange.
Turns out, Hunter is a devil worshipper who only wants Colleen M. for her virgin soul. After successfully defending themselves, the Colleens find they have bigger problems in the form of tiny Nazis made of bratwurst, called “Bratzis,” whose M.O. is to crawl up a person’s butt through the intestines and out the throat, breaking necks along the way. As soon as the Colleens smash one Bratzi, splaying their sauerkraut insides all over the floor of the Zed, ten more appear. The Colleens finish off what they think are the last of the Bratzis, only to find themselves in jail for killing Hunter. The only person who believes them is a mysterious detective named Guy Lapointe (an unrecognizable Johnny Depp with a false nose and moving moles), who shows up to jailbreak them and find the real killer.
To spend more time explaining “the plot” would be redundant. A rundown of all the celebrity cameos would explain the movie just as well, as that seems to be the only principle guiding Smith’s screenplay. There’s Adam Brody as the teens’ tattooed 34-year-old drummer, Ichabod, but to the Colleens he is Dickabod, Ickybod, or Lickabod. Justin Long gives some context to the movie’s title as a strip mall yoga instructor, Yogi Bayer, who is always screaming at copyright lawyers on the phone, then diving straight into shavasana. To make it a family affair, Vanessa Paradis — renowned French actress and the younger Depp’s mother — delivers the back story of the Nazi presence in Canada as the Colleens’ history teacher. Haley Joel Osment plays the original Canadian Nazi in a flashback. Even Sasheer Zamata (“Saturday Night Live”) makes a brief cameo as the trying-to-be-hip school principal. And — in case sausage gremlins weren’t enough to remind us that this is a Kevin Smith movie — Stan Lee as the 911 operator. It appears Smith still has friends in Hollywood.
Insider non-sequiturs and uneven plot aside, there is no reason fans who have followed Smith this far down the rabbit hole of the Smith universe will stop at “Yoga Hosers.” If bad Canadian accents, disgusting visuals, and Justin Long in a beard do it for Smith, they just might work for the middle aged men-children who make up his core audience. To his credit, Smith never shies away from a challenge; he is to be commended on writing a movie with two teenage girls at the forefront, even if one of them is his daughter. Just don’t expect teenage girls to buy tickets.
“Yoga Hosers” opens in theaters nationwide September 2nd.