An argument can be made that 2016’s most notable contribution to film history is that the eternal conversation of critic reviews versus audience reaction rose to prominence (FYI, my eyes glazed over with that phrase too…) Safe to say that it might not have been the best year for long time critic whipping boy and fanbeing cult leader Kevin Smith to release a movie about two teenage combat yoga obsessed girls from Canada which, if you haven’t heard, is currently scoring a painful 22% on Rotten Tomatoes (based on 37 reviews.)
What follows is a video of podcaster and amateur hockey jersey model Kevin Smith’s Hollywood Babble-On co-host, Ralph Garman, reading the beating that critics have given Yoga Hosers while the once loved independent filmmaker reacts. Fair warning, this can be difficult to watch. This may not be for everyone. Steady yourself before venturing any further. You will believe a fat man can cry.*
The pain starts at the 15:24 mark if the video doesn’t skip to that point automatically:
*Yes, that statement and even the cover photo on this post may seem a bit misleading. That is part of the lesson we might be learning here.
With Yoga Hosers on the receiving end of a gut-punching 21% RT score (sorry, it’s dropped an extra point while writing this) the project is already being deemed a ‘vanity project‘ that ‘seems like something that was hatched during a particularly neuron-impaired free-association game‘ that is ‘a quarter-to-1:00 a.m. SNL sketch, nightmarishly distended into oblivion‘ and that the accused Mr. Smith has ‘soured to the idea of making films for anyone outside his circle of fans, podcast co-hosts, and family members. Yoga Hosers, the latest feature-length podcast digression from Smith, proves how small that circle really is‘ and… Ok, you get the point and if you watched the above video you’ve already heard the juicy pull quotes, possibly read by Garman in a passable Sean Connery, Arnold Schwarzenegger, or Huell Howser impersonation.
So what is our takeaway lesson here? Is Kevin Smith just making movies for himself and this reportedly dwindling fanbase based off of his successes from decades ago? Is this critical vitriol warranted? Will you like this movie?
That’s kinda your call, isn’t it? Pay the dime, take a ride and go from there?
I won’t try and paraphrase what Smith says after they run through the Rotten Tomatoes critical response (which is now 20%,) but he does clearly admit that in a way, he is making movies for ‘him,’ but not in the vanity project based off a podcast riff way. Smith seems very aware of the risk and chances he took to make a movie that stars his and Johnny Depp‘s daughter that also features himself as a small army of anthropomorphic sausages and Depp in his career-defining role as legendary man-hunter from Montreal, Guy Lapointe. And maybe I am part of this pre-ordained fan base that will accept whatever cinematic trite Smith throws into the trough, but let’s keep this movie in perspective. The trailers make it seem like a weird absurdist Canucksplotation flick that’s bent on a few fast laughs and quick quirky scenes. He namechecks the Bob and Doug McKenzie opus ‘Strange Brew‘ for crying out loud. I don’t think he’s trying to unseat Shakespeare here.
So, what can we learn here? Well… for one, many of you were probably expecting/hoping to see Smith cry his way through the torrent of pithy comments and verbal torment. Yes, that is why that clickbaity and honestly very deceiving image was used to lead into this article. Others most likely commenting on social media having never even clicked through to watch what the man had to say and are just throwing out comments about how the movie failed on every level and deserves what I assume is the 19% RT score that I can’t bring myself to refresh to confirm.
What we get is a man taking it on the chin and being unabashedly honest with what he made, and (feel free to dismiss what I am about to say with that whole “but you are just a fanboy” cliche,) is really what he always made and what made him a filmmaker that many (myself included) enjoy. The dude is being him, and he’s actually damn good and entertaining when he does. YOU don’t have to like what he does, that doesn’t mean he can’t do it.
Yoga Hosers is currently in limited release and pawing blindly to find it’s misbegotten audience of unwashed, non-critic, mendicants. Of which I am one.