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Yoga Hosers

Year: 2016
Production Co: Abbolita Productions
Director: Kevin Smith
Writer: Kevin Smith
Cast: Harley Quinn Smith, Lily Rose Depp, Ralph Garman, Haley Joel Osment, Johnny Depp, Ashley Green, Adam Brody, Tony Hale, Natasha Lyonne, Genesis Rodriguez, Vanessa Paradis, Kevin Conroy, Kevin Smith, Stan Lee, Jason Mewes, David Greathouse, Jennifer Schwalbach Smith

You know when a little kid stands up in front of everyone to sing or do dance acts or puppet shows and everyone in the family is always telling them they should be an actor, singer, etc? Then they go on one of those talent shows with everyone thinking they're going to be the next Rhianna or Adele and everyone realises that what was mildly amusing in front of a few friends or relatives doesn't translate to a career or even a single song, movie, play, etc?

This film is exactly that. I'm a dedicated listener to Hollywood Babble-On, the podcast writer/director Kevin Smith does with his friend Ralph Garman, and the silly voices Garman does on the show are hilarious... in the right context. When he breaks a handful of them out while playing a Nazi officer who's been in hiding in Winnipeg since the end of the Second World War, it's like a little kid who's been amusing their family with funny voices and who finally gets up on a real stage with a real audience to a big embarrased silence.

Smith is confident in what he does and throws all his creative energy into it, he's just not a really good director and hasn't been in a long time. Sometimes he's been lucky, like when he stumbles upon an ambitious premise like he did in Tusk, and I don't know what magic spell was cast on him as he made Red State (his best film), but all his movies contain the same problems to some degree.

First is that he doesn't have the best grasp on the dramatic weight different aspects deserve in the amount of time, the kind of blocking and the writing that goes into them. Like in Tusk, the action in Yoga Hosers seems to lurch between emotional states in a very ungainly way. In just one example, he stops the whole film to treat us to a song performed by Johnny Depp's daughter that has nothing to do with the plot because the band the heroines have with a male friend in the back of the store where they work has already been established, he just thinks she's a good singer and wants us to watch her sing too.

The other problem is that he employs all the kids who've performed their little acts in front of the family and who everyone's convinced are going to be stars, and they're just not actors. With his training in radio and on screen Garman at least is a professional performer (though what he's called on to do is kind of stupid), but no matter how cute it might be that Smith cast his own daughter Harley and her best friend Lily Rose Depp as the leads, neither of them can act. Put them in a movie with a dumb premise and awful script like this and the results are even more embarrasing for everyone involved. Maybe the secret to Red State's success was because he cast names like Michael Parks, Melissa Leo and John Goodman in the important roles instead of just his family and friends.

Even Johnny Depp as the weird French-Canadian detective Guy LaPointe (is he supposed to be an idiot or secretly brilliant? Why does he dress like a homeless itinerant? Does he have terminal eczema? What's supposed to be funny about him?) makes you think of Liam Neeson in Star Wars: Episode 1 - The Phantom Menace, an actor with enough skill to carry a huge franchise and a career worth of indie hits who should have been left completely on the cutting room floor.

The story is about two teenage girls who work in a convenience store. We've seen them before – they're the ones glued to their phones who could hardly be bothered to look up as the protagonist of Tusk blew through town on his way to meeting his awful destiny.

With her best friend Colleen (Depp), Colleen (Smith) gets invited to an epic high school party that will cement their stature for, like, life. But when their store owner Dad tells them they have to work the night of the party, everything seems hopeless.

They hit upon the idea of asking the boys who invited them to bring the party to the store instead, but the latter are actually Satanists who intended to lure the girls to their deaths for human sacrifices. As they set about doing so in the back storeroom, the whole group is attacked by foot-tall Nazis made of bratwurst. Though the Colleens were barely interested earlier in the day when their history teacher told them about the hidden history of Naziism in Manitoba, it's come home to roost.

The right hand man of Winnipeg's main Nazi sympathiser was never found, and he's been conducting experiments ever since to bring about a Fourth Reich and let loose a new Nazi army ('bratzis'), which he's finally unleashed and which unwittingly saves the girls' lives from Satanists. Yes, the idea is that stupid. But many a dumb premise have made enjoyable – even great – movies. Unfortunately, Smith's not a good enough writer or director in this case to make this one watchable.

During the end credits, after playing some music from the soundtrack, it cuts in a recording of the moment when he and his friend and other podcast partner Scott Mosier first hit upon the idea of Yoga Hosers (apparently 'hoser' is a Canadian putdown that means 'idiot') and laughing hysterically to themselves. Just like the kid we all think can sing, thinking something is hilarious while sitting around stoned with your friends doesn't mean it should be made into a movie.

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