In the early ‘90s, Bruce Springsteen invited Terence Trent D’Arby on stage. D’Arby, who was very popular at the time thanks to songs like “Wishing Well,” is not someone you’d associate with the musical taste of the average Springsteen fan. And, as you’d probably expect, Springsteen fans didn’t respond well. I was reminded of this story while watching Kevin Smith’s Yoga Hosers when “Wishing Well” played early in the film. I thought of this for two reasons: a) honestly, thinking about anything other than what was on screen seemed appealing and b) if those Springsteen fans were subjected to Yoga Hosers – which premiered this week at the Sundance Film Festival – they’d be begging for more D’Arby, or anything to distract their attentions from this wretched thing in front of them.
Kevin Smith makes me sad. Even though he’s pretty much vilified by most people who pay attention to film, I don’t think most of the scorn comes from anywhere personal. (Even though Smith kind of makes it difficult in this respect sometimes, since he comes from a place with a chip on his shoulder.) But, deep down, I look at Smith like I look at an athlete who hasn’t been good in a long time, yet still manages to hang on. “Wouldn’t it be great if Smith had one last run in him? One last flurry of greatness?” I root for this to happen because I love comebacks. I want this to happen. Smith thinks the critical world is against him, but that’s not true: The critical world just desperately wants him to make a good movie again and feels constantly disappointed.
Yoga Hosers is a movie that features little sausage Nazis who all look like Kevin Smith and talk like a combination of a mad German person and Bib Fortuna in Return of the Jedi. These sausage Nazis crawl up a human being’s anus and kill them from within. The person who created the sausage Nazis is an artist – an artist who says things like “So much ‘nien’ it’s almost ten” — who feels unfairly scorned by critics. Does this all sound familiar? Man, if Kevin Smith put half the effort into one of his movies that he puts into his War On Critics, we’d probably get the next Lawrence of Arabia – or at least maybe the next Mannequin.
I don’t think I have it in me anymore to write about how bad a Kevin Smith movie is. The thing is, the first few minutes of Yoga Hosers aren’t that bad. It does, kind of, sort of, have a Clerks vibe for a few seconds. Both Harley Quinn Smith (Smith’s daughter) and Lily-Rose Depp (Johnny Depp’s daughter; Depp, too is in this movie but I chose to pretend this never happened) are good enough as convenience store clerks who are just over it all. Then a sausage Nazi shows up.
I have been thinking a lot about how Smith could resurrect his career. A few days ago over lunch, I had a 30-minute conversation about this with a fellow Sundance attendee. (See, we do care?) The gist was that maybe Smith should direct some television. It’s funny, we both agreed he should direct an episode of The Flash, which, as I looked it up, is actually happening. This is a good thing! And if he does a good job, maybe he can move onto the critical darlings? I mean, wouldn’t it be cool if Kevin Smith directed a good episode of something like Better Call Saul? Then… maybe he jumps back into films.
Clerks was a big part of what introduced me to independent film. Even though Smith rejects us, I still have a hard time rejecting him (even though, very often, I really, really want to). I just think the guy deserves better than making drek like Yoga Hosers.
Or, to put in words Smith will understand, I feel there’s still good in him. There’s a spark of good; I can feel it. But, sadly, he just may be just far too gone. It’s too late for him.
Mike Ryan lives in New York City and has written for The Huffington Post, Wired, Vanity Fair and New York magazine. He is senior entertainment writer at Uproxx. You can contact him directly on Twitter.