It’s hard to figure out how to describe the story of Yoga Hosers, the new movie from writer/director Kevin Smith. The movie is another in Smith’s recent “Canadian” series of movies that includes Tusk and the (reportedly) upcoming Hit Somebody, which keeps moving down the release schedule. Yoga Hosers stars the director’s own daughter Harley Quinn Smith and the daughter of Johnny Depp, Lily-Rose Depp. They play Colleen McKenzie and Colleen Collette, two best friends who do everything together, from work at the local convenience store to taking yoga classes.
One day they’re finally invited to a Senior party, achieving their life’s dream. But doing so uncovers an evil history lurking in their small Canadian town, one that involves a Nazi plot to take over the Great White North and which involves tiny little Bratzis, which are Nazis made out of bratwurst. Actually, to be clear, they’re sentient bratwurst that are Nazis. Not human-sized, brat-sized. It’s a ludicrous concept and features not only the elder Depp but also a cast full of Smith’s friends and family, from his wife to Jason Mewes to Ralph Garman. Let’s dive into the marketing.
The single one-sheet for the movie gives off kind of an Army of Darkness vibe, likely intentionally. The Colleens are shown standing on top of a pile of rubble in front of the convenience store they worked at, the pair still sporting their work shirts. One is holding a hockey stick (because Canada) and the other a mop, showing the weapons they’ll use to take on the army of Bratzis that are seen peeking through the rubble beneath them.
At the top is the copy “Do your ‘wurst,” which…yeah. At the bottom, below the title and credits the audience is told this is “A kids movie from the director of Clerks and Tusk.” The inclusion of the first movie is a play to Smith’s long-time fans and a reference to his most recognizable movie. The latter is for those who are still following him and enjoyed his first foray into the Great White North. So the two titles are meant to represent the two phases of Smith’s career.
We start off in the trailer by meeting the Colleens, who are BFFs and who work together at a convenience store, do yoga together and are generally basic teens who live in Canada and are on their phones all the time. There’s something about their wanting to go to a party being thrown by a couple senior guys but that’s stopped when they’re forced to work that night. The crux of the trailer, though, is showing them dealing with the Bratzis, a bunch of foot-tall Nazis who are made out of bratwurst.
I don’t even know where to start. If his name weren’t slapped all over it there’s nothing about this trailer that looks like it’s coming from the director of Clerks and Mallrats. Nothing. Yeah, it looks like it might have a couple laughs here and there but it’s so high concept and the opportunities for this to go horribly, horribly wrong are so high it’s kind of hard to imagine how it’s not a complete disaster.
Online and Social
The movie’s official web presence seemed to consist of a page on the Smodcast site that had the trailer, poster and a promotion for the Fathom Events Q&A, a Facebook page that heavily promoted that Fathom Events…urmm…event and also shared short videos and image and a Twitter profile that’s much the same stuff.
Advertising and Cross-Promotions
It’s safe to assume there was some online advertising done, though I haven’t seen any, particularly with the emphasis we’ll see below on the Fathom Events screening and Q&A. But there doesn’t seem to have been any TV advertising done, which isn’t surprising since the subject matter of the movie doesn’t lend itself toward appealing to a mass audience.
Media and Publicity
The first bit of press for the movie was a first look photo featuring the daughters of Smith and Depp that star in the film. Later on it was announced the story would get a prequel comic to setup the characters and lead into the movie. That was just before it debuted at Sundance, an event that garnered a bit of decidedly mixed buzz and which coincided with the release of a first clip that showed the Colleens at work. Smith would also talk about the movie along with his long history with Sundance while at the festival.
After that the next big beat for the movie was the news – shared by Smith himself, of course – that the MPAA had taken issue with one of the scenes in it and slapped an R rating to the film, something he then made a big deal of appealing to try and get it to the PG-13 he felt it deserved. Ultimately the change was made before the appeal process even started, rendering this a non-issue. Shortly after that, news of distribution that included another road-show with Smith was announced.
While talking above about the poster I referenced the two phases of Smith’s career, something that’s pretty clearly delineated by the time between Zack and Miri Make a Porno and Red State. The first phase was about the writer-director basically being a big walking id and the second has been about him trying to do something more…ambitious? He clearly wants to move beyond the Askewniverse but has struggled with how to do so and, as if this was possible, he’s become even more critically divisive since 2011.
So the marketing of Yoga Hosers has to trade on the Kevin Smith name without being what most people would easily identify as a Kevin Smith movie, an idea most people still associate with Clerks and Mallrats and such. It’s trying to sell a ludicrous concept – foot tall Nazis made of bratwurst invading a Canadian city that’s defended by two basic teens – in a way that’s at all comprehensible by the audience. I don’t know that it succeeds – indeed I don’t know what success would have looked like – but it doesn’t hide the insanity lying behind the story, so the audience can’t say it wasn’t warned.