Earlier this year writer/director Kevin Smith released his harshly criticized film, Yoga Hosers. While he has ventured out of his familiar bubble by directing a few films he didn’t write, Yoga Hosers is the eleventh film that is all Smith. As soon as the first trailer was released, there were hecklers. Smith has always had naysayers. Which is expected considering Smith doesn’t make movies for everyone, he never has and hopefully never will. Smith’s appeal largely stems from the fact that he makes films for himself, his friends, family, and fans. For a filmmaker to knowingly make a movie that the average film critic or casual viewer would probably not appreciate is a bold move. But such a move only seems to rile up some sort of unexplained anger from critics and internet commenters.
The Smith fans who should appreciate his latest endeavor are not the fair-weather fans who didn't enjoy films beyond Dogma or Chasing Amy. There are certainly those who claim to have truly adored Smith’s first film Clerks. But feel he has not reached such a level since, but again, those are not the same viewers who are the target audience for Yoga Hosers. The ones who complain about Smith’s career after Clerks are not so much Kevin Smith Fans, as they are merely fond of one independent film of the early '90s. A film that tells the story of a scrappy convenience store employee and aspiring filmmaker who gather some friends to make a movie on a $27,000 budget.
To be disappointed or disheartened by every film he has made since is unreasonable. His success with Clerks automatically provided him with more resources and the ability to make more than just a grainy black and white film shot in a single location. Clerks is a hilarious film that completely holds up, but to say it was the highlight of Smith’s career would not only be a radical disservice to Smith, but it would also just be shortsighted.
The Rise of Kevin Smith
1995’s Mallrats was the sophomore effort that gave Smith the first glimpse of reality that not all of his films were going to be met with open arms. Let alone receive invitations to film festivals. Sure, Mallrats was silly, mostly plot-less, and filled with juvenile humor ideal for a 14 year-old audience but there was a lot of good that came with Mallrats, most notably, a few great one-liners which were mostly spoken by Jason Lee. Lee is the obvious diamond in the rough of Mallrats, who was a former pro-skateboarder who decided to give acting a try and landed one of the lead, and by far most memorable role of Brodie Bruce.
Yoga Hosers may be most similar to Mallrats of Smith’s filmography. Just like Mallrats, Yoga Hosers goes from one scene to the next without a lot of purpose. But still makes a point to fill its moments with humor and an odd sense of sincerity. Just as Lee was the breakout star who energized the film with his comedic talent and charm, the two lead actresses, Harley Quinn Smith and Lily-Rose Depp are talented and poised to be successful working actresses. The two young women are naturals and their real-life friendship only makes their character’s onscreen friendship even more endearing.
After Mallrats, Smith had the unfortunate task of proving himself once again to the movie industry and critics after falling out of their good graces. His next film, Chasing Amy, did accomplish that to an extent with only a few complaints from viewers. It turns out some found the concept of a lesbian choosing to be straight for Ben Affleck was inaccurate and far too simplistic. Dogma too proved he was not a fluke. And showed that he didn’t mind writing about controversial topics, especially religion.
Smith Hits Road Bumps
Jay and Silent Bob Strike Back was met with mixed reviews and its meta humor was criticized for being self-indulgent. Revisiting past characters from the View-Askew Universe, dealing with Miramax, poking fun of Smith’s real-life buddies Ben Affleck and Matt Damon, and giving Jay and Silent Bob a starring vehicle was not for everyone but for Smith fans, it was a treat. Yoga Hosers is similarly a family and friend affair. Along with daughter Harley-Quinn, Smith’s wife Jennifer Schwalbach-Smith plays the mother of her real daughter. Their scene is short and sweet. Viewers who think of Yoga Hosers as "Nepotism: The Movie" will not be pleased and should avoid the film anyhow.
Smith has also received a bit of grief from “Fans” who believe that 2004's PG-13 Jersey Girl was pure emotional drivel and a bit of a sell-out move. Yoga Hosers too has a tame PG-13 rating and doesn't feature the language and vulgar musings on all things comic books. But Smith seems to enjoy testing the waters. For some, there was no coming back from Tusk, the first entry in his Canadian trilogy. After a brief reprieve of critical hatred with Zack and Miri Make a Porno and Red State, Tusk brought back the ridicule. Although, Tusk is bizarrely hilarious and original, there were not too many movie fans who were eager to watch Justin Long get tortured and turned into a Walrus by a demented man in Canada. The 2014 film was unable to recoup its already minuscule $3 million budget.
Leading to Yoga Hosers
Some have speculated that Tusk, Yoga Hosers and the upcoming Moose Jaws are proof that Smith has taken his recent increased intake of recreational marijuana a bit too far. But it is far too soon to write off the filmmaker who tends to make what he wants despite public opinion.
Yoga Hosers may not be a perfect or even particularly good film. But the fervent hatred for such a harmless film makes less sense than a movie about Nazi Bratwurst who take two Canadian teenage girls named Colleen hostage beneath a convenience store only to be defeated with the least effort of any movie fight scene. Yoga Hosers is entertaining, stars two incredibly likable young actresses, and appears to be completely aware of all of its faults. Instead of shying away, the film revels in them. Anyone who doesn't crack a smile after Harley Quinn Smith's Colleen complains that she "Wasn't even supposed to be here today" has already written off Smith. Luckily, film fans can check out the film with little effort or money wasted, as it is currently streaming on Netflix.