Two teenage store clerks team up with a legendary man-hunter when their Canadian town is threatened by Nazi bratwurst monsters, in Kevin Smith’s latest oddball comedy. Review by Matthew Turner at Edinburgh International Film Festival
Director: Kevin Smith
Starring: Lily-Rose Depp, Harley Quinn Smith, Justin Long, Johnny Depp
Genre: Comedy / Horror
Release date: tbc
Cert: 12A (tbc)
Running time: 87 mins
It’s impossible to read anything about writer-director Kevin Smith’s latest horror-comedy without reaching the conclusion that the film was primarily intended as an elaborate gift for his teenage daughter Harley Quinn Smith and her best friend, Lily-Rose Depp (daughter of co-stars Johnny Depp and Vanessa Paradis).
While there is an undeniable element of self-indulgence that some may find off-putting, the film nonetheless succeeds on its own terms, even if it’s not setting the bar particularly high. However, its connection to Smith’s previous film Tusk (where the two leads and Depp’s character first appeared) may be somewhat lost on UK audiences, since Tusk never received a UK theatrical release.
Strong best-buddy chemistry
Intended as the second part in Smith’s ongoing “True North trilogy”, Yoga Hosers is set in Winnipeg, Canada, where high schoolers and yoga enthusiasts Colleen M (Smith) and Colleen C (Depp) work as convenience store clerks at the Eh-2-Zed and practice yoga with Yogi Bayer (Justin Long), who teaches them positions like “The Dissatisfied Customer”.
When citizens of Winnipeg are attacked by an army of foot-tall Nazis made of bratwurst (nick-named Bratzis), it’s up to the Colleens to save the day, with the help of legendary man-hunter Guy Lapointe (Johnny Depp, doing a neat Columbo impersonation under heavy make-up).
Fortunately, Smith’s faith in his daughter and her BFF wasn’t misplaced, as both Harley Quinn Smith and Lily-Rose Depp deliver engaging, likeable performances and have strong best-buddy chemistry together; Depp, in particular, has genuine screen presence and would appear to have future star (film, pop or both) written all over her.
There’s also strong comic support from both Johnny Depp and Long, both of whom nab some decent laughs (such as Yogi Bayer wondering why Warner Brothers keep trying to sue him over his name).
The satirical targets for the majority of the jokes aren’t especially sophisticated (teenagers spend all their time on their phones, Canadians have funny accents, etc) but the scattershot approach to the gags ensures that there are at least as many hits as there are misses.
Similarly, Smith gives the film a colourful, cartoon-like aesthetic that works well and there’s a sort of surreal charm to the whole thing that occasionally recalls the Harold & Kumar movies (or rather, the two not-quite-as-good sequels).
The only thing that slightly lets the film down is the disappointingly cheap-looking special effects on the Bratzis when they’re killed (they have badly animated sauerkraut for blood), though here, as with the rest of the film, it’s worth bearing in mind that Smith’s intended audience for the film is pre-teen girls, so horror effects weren’t exactly high on the agenda.
Yoga Hosers doesn’t have any ambition beyond being 87 minutes of silly fun, but it’s undeniably heightened by the charm and enthusiasm of its two leads.