Reviewed by Colin Jacobson (February 15, 2017)
A few years back, Kevin Smith threatened to quit filmmaking. This didn’t take: while Smith scaled back his directorial schedule, he continued to create new movies. For his latest epic, we find 2016’s Yoga Hosers.
Set in Winnipeg, we meet high school sophomores Colleen Collette (Lily-Rose Depp) and Colleen McKenzie (Harley Quinn Smith). The best pals live a pretty standard teen life with parties and hoped-for relationships with boys.
Colleen Collette’s father Bob (Tony Hale) owns a local convenience store, and the girls work there. After they learn about their area’s 1940s dalliance with fascism, they encounter this long-dormant threat in bizarre fashion as Nazi sausages attack them.
If I looked hard, I could probably find a filmmaker whose career went into the crapper as hard as Smith’s, but that’s elite territory. I can’t claim this freefall occurred quickly, though, as I think Smith sowed the seeds with 2004’s Jersey Girl.
On one hand, I don’t like to come down too hard on Jersey, as it offered Smith’s attempt to broaden his horizons. He tried to go in a different cinematic direction – and failed miserably. Jersey got brutal reviews and flopped at the box office.
Though Smith claimed that 2001’s Jay and Silent Bob Strike Back would be his final visit with the characters who brought him fame, the failure of Jersey immediately sent him back to the womb. 2006 brought Clerks II, a movie that failed like a pale imitation of the filmmaker’s style.
After that, matters got worse, as subsequent Smith efforts continued to flounder, a trend that culminated in Smith’s “sell-out” flick: 2010’s Cop Out. For the first time, Smith directed a script by someone else, and his lack of connection to the material showed in the mostly witless action-comedy.
After two darker-edged movies, Hosers brings us Smith’s first clear comedy in a while, so one might expect a return to form. He seems to have abandoned all hopes of commercial success, and fans might think this makes Smith free to follow his muse and fulfill his artistic destiny.
Or maybe not. I never saw Red State or Tusk, so I can’t officially call Hosers Smith’s worst movie – and yet I’m going to do so anyway. State and Tusk may be terrible for all I know, but it’s unimaginable that they’re worse than this atrocity.
Hosers> finds him at his nadir as a storyteller. Hosers takes forever to get to its ostensible “plot”, and it fills those minutes with nothing more than pointless, rambling stabs at comedy.
Smith gets credit as the screenwriter here, but most of the time, the viewer will assume the actors made up the dialogue as they went. There’s a blathering sense of indulgence here, as Smith throws out any kind of allegedly comedic concept he can conjure without regard for the film as a whole.
That’s why it takes a good half an hour before the movie makes any clear attempts to pursue its main story – and even then, it ambles and goes down pointless side paths with abandon. Hosers includes enough content for a 10-minute short but Smith pads this out to 87 minutes and the film feels bloated.
I remember when Smith boasted clever insights and wit, but he doesn’t even attempt anything smart in Hosers. Much of the film focuses on cheap gags about bodily functions and Canadian accents, with the occasional self-referential moment thrown in as well.
Smith believes he’ll look smart if he reminds us of his prior flicks – or other pop culture bits, too. I suspect Smith believes he’s skewering modern society but instead, he just throws out random comments without logic or insight.
Oh, and expect cameos – lots and lots of cameos. Smith broke open his Rolodex for Hosers, which means a surprisingly good cast for a movie that appears to have cost 38 dollars to make. You’ll find plenty of known actors along with one major star whose identity becomes obvious when you look at Lily-Rose’s last name.
Even with so much talent, nothing about Hosers works, and it becomes tough not to pity the poor actors. Did they realize how awful the film was while they made it? Did they go along with the proceedings to be nice to Smith? Did anyone think they might need to stage an intervention to save the director from himself?
Remarkably, Hosers gets more depressing in its climax, a sequence that includes a scene in which Smith does nothing more than lash out at critics who were “mean” to him. Apparently film reviewers who dislike the mediocre or worse movies Smith has made over the years harshed his mellow and deserve to be woodshedded, so he uses the Nazi theme as an excuse to take down his detractors.
Here’s a better idea, Kev: make a movie as good as Clerks - or even Zack and Miri - and we’ll get off your back. With Hosers. all you did was give the critics more ammunition, as you created a cheap, stupid effort totally devoid of any humor or cleverness.
I used to like Smith a lot and I’d look forward to his films. Hosers shows that whatever talent he once possessed has evaporated. Maybe Smith will eventually rebound, but based on the evidence found here, I wouldn’t count on it.