Last week, AEISD contributors Mark Searby and Samantha Payne were lucky to attend a special presentation of Kevin Smith‘s latest effort, YOGA HOSERS, in an evening which had the filmmaker speak – at length! – about the unique genesis of the movie, the highly modern method of gathering his star cast, and what drove him to add some very… passionate elements to the film!
Writer/Director/Actor/Professional Talker Kevin Smith finds himself in an interesting period of his movie making life; thrown into the Hollywood machine at the deep end with films MALLRATS and CHASING AMY, he never got to do ‘an early experimental period like other film makers’, as he says.
He is now indulging his own experimentation with the productions of TUSK, a truly odd horror comedy released in 2014, and now the equally bizarre YOGA HOSERS. These two films, and the forthcoming MOOSE JAWS, will eventually make up Smith’s TRUE NORTH TRILOGY.
On Tuesday 28th June 2016, YOGA HOSERS received its London premiere at London’s Prince Charles Cinema, after screening at the Edinburgh International Film Festival. Smith was indulged in both pre- and post-Q&A sessions about the film that, throughout the evening, lasted nearly four hours.
The pre-film Q&A saw Smith discuss the lead up to YOGA HOSERS, which included how TUSK got made. As always with Kevin, he had plenty to say, with some of the best stories including:
- …his wife, Jennifer, telling him the script for TUSK was ‘shit’, but she was willing to re-mortgage the house because he was so passionate with the idea of making the film.
- …telling the audience that TUSK is partially based on a prank ad, placed by Brightonian Chris Parkinson, and initially discussed on his SModCast show. After a positive response to the episode from his loyal audience, Smith tracked down Chris and offered to develop the story with him, eventually giving him a full producer credit. “Without that guy, there would be no movie.”
- He asked Quentin Tarantino to be in the film. After Tarantino read the script, he emailed back with two words: “Fuck. And, No!”
- The casting of Johnny Depp came about because Smith and Depp’s daughters are best friends. Smith texted messages Depp to see if he would be interested in a part in TUSK, upon which Depp asked him to send over the script. There was no response for a couple of weeks. Then, a text message came back that read “Fascinating. This is the type of idea I could swim around in. Colour me intrigued!” Smith mentioned Depp has the most eloquent text manner of anyone ever. “No emoji’s with this guy.”
- Smith said it was Depp’s idea to have the cartoonish nose in TUSK. When Smith went to see Depp in his trailer in full make-up, the Hollywood actor kept pointing his prosthetic nose up in the air, saying it looked like a dick! He then wanted to draw a blue line down the side of the nose to make it look like a bulging vein: Smith gleefully agreed.
Talk moved to the film at hand, and how YOGA HOSERS came to star Smith’s daughter Harley Quinn and Depp’s daughter Lily-Rose, both of whom have small cameos in TUSK as counter assistants. Smith was admiring the footage of the two girls working together alongside their dad’s when Jennifer mentioned that he had effectively made a female version of CLERKS in that single scene.
Jennifer also pointed out that while he might be taking Harley to see all the superhero movies because they are good fun – IRON MAN, SUPERMAN, BATMAN, THOR, CAPTAIN AMERICA and the like – there are no female characters that she felt Harley could identify with. With that in mind, Smith decided to write a movie that would be aimed at teenage girls. A movie that female millennials could connect with… and so was born YOGA HOSERS.
Shortly before the film started, Smith introduced daughter Harley Quinn Smith onto the stage to give a few words. She said, she wasn’t sure what to say as her dad had managed to say it all in the past hour! With that, the Smith’s departed and the house lights went down…
YOGA HOSERS (2016)
Written / Directed by: Kevin Smith
UK Certificate: PG-13
UK Release Date : 21st June 2016
As the film begins, a kid no older than eight or nine is stood at the checkout in front of a pair of Canadian store clerks, Colleen C (played by Depp) and Colleen M (Smith). He is wearing a baseball cap that simply says “weird” on it. Whether that was meant to be an intentional reference to the movie or not does not matter – it does perfectly encapsulate what is about to happen through the next seventy something minutes!
As the film starts, the movie plays out like a newer, lower budget version of MEAN GIRLS, not concerning itself with any oddness straight away. Instead it opts to make a very on-point story about two teenage girls who are glued to their phones and social media. Its flashy MTV style editing and graphics only add to that idea. There are several laugh out loud moments from the girls, including a bitchy hissy fit when they get their phones confiscated at school and their constant belittling of Canada.
However, forty-five minutes in, the film flips on a dime, introducing an ancient evil, rising from beneath Canada’s crust – the Bratzi’s, little Nazis made out of bratwursts. Yes, you read that right.
When these bizarre creatures arrive, the movie transforms into a strangely enjoyable mix of horror comedy, taking its lead from rubber horrors of the ’80s, such as GHOULIES and CRITTERS. As the Colleens slice’n’dice them with hockey sticks (they are in Canada, after all), the big-nosed manhunter, Guy Lapointe (Depp Sr.) arrives on the scene to aid them. This only causes more issues and the trio find themselves imprisoned by the mad Nazi scientist that dreamed up the Bratzi’s in the first place.
It’s here that the film unfortunately goes off the rails, with a finale that goes way, way, way, way over the top after a setup that was holding itself together nicely, undoing all the great work that had gone before. The silliness of the Nazi’s sausages and the mad scientist gets too stupid for its own good – after what you’ve read already, how is that even possible? Well, that it is, unfortunately. YOGA HOSERS didn’t need a big bonkers payoff like it has, the film would have worked better if it was settled solely between the girls and the mad scientist.
One other problem with the finale is the constant battering of film critics. For years, we’ve heard and seen Smith take grief from those that write about his work. YOGA HOSERS is his resounding riposte, a defiant expletive to all of his detractors as his mad scientist character screams and shouts, “Kill the critics!” For five solid minutes, the film hammers home the message that all critics are scum – it was personally disappointing to see Smith use the film to play out such a personal vendetta.
The biggest surprise of the movie is discovering that Smith can write and direct a respectable and often hilarious teenage girl’s comedy, a story line I would have been happy to see, stand on its own. That element of the film had razor sharp dialogue and some hilarious acting, with Harley Quinn being a real standout; hopefully she can break away from her fathers movies and expand her acting horizons because she certainly has the chops.
Sure, the horror comedy ingredient is fine and features suitable blood splattering gory, but it does feel like it comes from a different film – and era – entirely. YOGA HOSERS is a weirdly enjoyable movie – how a’boot that then?
After the screening, the Smiths returned to take questions from the audience, with the majority of the questions were mainly aimed at Smith Sr. It would have been nice to hear from Smith Jr. as she was the one starring in the film, kicking ass and taking selfies, but when your dad is Kevin Smith, getting a word in is probably always quite tricky!
Kevin went on to deliver a long speech about how there are film makers in all of us that were in that screening, waxing lyrical about how we are all cinephiles and that we have the ability to make movies we just haven’t expressed it yet. He talked about having the will to step out of your comfort zone and take a risk, putting something out there that is a slight twist on what people have already done.
True, Smith likes the sounds of his own voice and can go on and on and on, but he is right: you just need the will to put something out there, and once you have done it you should feel proud about having taken the risk. Smith might not be everyone’s cup of tea as a director, but he is most certainly following his own path – and be damned what any of his critics may say.