Director: Kevin Smith
Cast: Harley Quinn Smith, Lily-Rose Melody Depp, Johnny Depp, Natasha Lyonne, Adam Brody
Running Time: 88mins
Kevin Smith is certainly going through an interesting phase in his career. While he has become famous for his slacker comedies such as “Clerks” and “Mallrats” in recent years he has gone in a more, shall we say, experimental direction. His last movie “Tusk” was probably the most polarising of his career yet and “Yoga Hosers” (which is set in the same universe as “Tusk” and forms part of a trilogy) will have a similar polarising effect with it already being savaged by critics when it premiered at Sundance.
The premise is, it is fair to say, utterly batshit crazy as Harley Quinn Smith (just let that sink hi… if Kevin Smith wasn’t awesome enough, he has a daughter named fucking Harley Quinn?!) and Lily-Rose Depp (the daughter of Johnny Depp, god these two must get invited to all the best parties!) as the central pairing, The Colleens, are forced to take on an army of “Bratzis”. Which are 1ft tall Canadian Nazis made entirely of Bratwurst and have been frozen since the end of World War II. That description alone will go some way to answering whether you will go with this film or think it is the stupidest thing you have ever witnessed.
Before we get to the “Bratzi’s” we get to learn about the Colleens who are two social media-obsessed (they spend all their time on Canadian Instagram Insta-Can), yoga enthusiast teens who both work at convenience stores owned by Colleen C’s (Lily-Rose) dad. Well they occasionally work that is when they are not playing Anthrax covers in the store’s backroom with their band completed by the much older Ichabod (Adam Brody).The plot really kicks off though when the girls are questioned about a fugitive who is gone missing by the Inspector Clouseau-alike Guy Lapointe (Johnny Depp) make a return from “Tusk”. The character in that film was criticised by many for upsetting the tone of the movie but here the heavily accented detective with wandering facial moles fits perfectly into the cartoonish atmosphere here. While some may think a star of Depp’s level is crazy to do a film like this. It is entertaining how much fun he has with the role and that he is willing to throw himself into a smaller project just because he thought it might be entertaining.
As there is so much being thrown against the wall here it is obvious that not everything is going to hit the mark. The constant jokes about Canada/Canadian-ness start to wear thin after a while, the frequent pot-shots at critics seem a little on the petty side and it does feels a bit like two films in one with the opening section being like a female teen “Clerks” but then switching to a horror-comedy when the “Bratzi’s” show up. It is not however as bad as many critics have lamented though and, unlike quite a few, I don’t think Kevin Smith has lost plot.
There is good stuff here. As while some may sneer at the nepotism of the daughters of the director and one of the main actors being in the leads both Harley Quinn and Lily Rose acquit themselves well. They have a great sparky chemistry (not surprising since they have known each other since kindergarten) and they manage to make their characters who should be obnoxious and annoying to actually be quite endearing and likable.Some of the supporting roles are very funny too from Natasha Lyonne as Coleen C’s slutty step-mum from hell to Justin Long’s yoga teacher Yogi Bayer who is constantly being bothered by the lawyers of rights holders of a certain cartoon and more. There is also a couple of great cameo’s from king of cameo’s Stan Lee and from voice of Batman from “Batman: The Animated Series” Kevin Conroy who has a hilarious interaction with Harley Quinn’s character.
Overall: It is not one of Kevin Smith’s strongest efforts by any stretch of the imagination but there is a giddiness and joy to the film that sweeps it along. It is a daft nutty film but it knows that and is proud of the fact and it is a fun flick as long as you are willing to switch off your brain and go with its wacky flow.
The film screening was followed by a Q&A with Kevin Smith & Harley Quinn Smith.
Well I say it was a Q&A with Kevin Smith and Harley Quinn Smith. In reality Harley answered one question and that was about it. The rest was all Kevin and while most of the post screening Q&As at the Edinburgh Film Festival last about 30 minutes this went just over the hour mark. Not that this is a complaint as he had plenty of fun anecdotes to tell, some from “Yoga Hosers” but also some to do with “Tusk” as well as his many podcasts (it was one of these podcasts that the story ideas for both those films came from) and his directing gig on “The Flash”.
On Yoga Hosers he explained he was trying to go for a messed-up kid’s movie or as he described it “Clueless meets Gremlins” (He then immediately corrected himself noting that Gremlins is very good so it is “probably more Clueless meet Ghoulies”). It was also interesting to hear how it was for father and daughter to work together on the same film which apparently went quite smoothly.
One of the funniest storys told was how he got the directing gig on “The Flash” and how he first disregarded the show as while it was recommended by Jason Mewes it is shown in the U.S. on the CW Network (or the “shirtless boy network” as he calls it) which, as Smith notes, demographic seems to be “13 year-old girls and Jason Mewes”. His conversion came when they feature notably lame DC villain King Shark (whose is for those don’t know a very large walking shark who wears trousers) and thought if they were confident/insane enough to pull that off then there must be something there. It was also funny to hear his experience on the Flash set and how he ribbed Jason Mewes because there happened to be a Jay in the script so convinced him it was for him then said he was only kidding. Only to find out from the showrunner it was for Jason Mewes because the Flash producers thought they came as a package deal. All of this was of course funnier in the telling by Mr Smith who is a born raconteur.
There was also fun stories about how Johnny Depp got the part of Guy Lapointe, how his only demand is he brought his own make-up guy, how Quentin Tarantino was the original pick for the part, how he nearly re-mortgaged his house to make “Tusk” and even a bit of motivational therapy thrown suggesting that every member of the audience should go out and find there own self-expression. Definitely one of the most entertaining post-film Q&A’s I have ever witnessed.
Words by Scott Murphy