Since the mid-’90s, filmmaker Kevin Smith has marched to the bizarre beat of his own raunchy, outrageous drummer. His first film, Clerks, was set in the New Jersey convenience store where a teenaged Smith had worked. And though it cost just $27,575 to produce, it ended up making $3 million, redefining the possibilities of independent film and introducing the world to stoner duo Jay and Silent Bob along the way. Next came Mallrats and Chasing Amy, two more day-in-the-life comedies that catapulted Jason Lee, Joey Lauren Adams, and a pre-Good Will Hunting Ben Affleck to stardom.
In the unexpected role of in-demand filmmaker, Smith spent the next decade of his career experiencing enormous highs — the controversial religion-skewering Dogma, the revenge fantasy Jay and Silent Bob Strike Back and Clerks II — and devastating lows — Jersey Girl, drubbed by critics, and Zack and Miri Make a Porno, which nearly torpedoed Seth Rogen’s early career. But it was Cop Out, a buddy movie featuring Bruce Willis and Tracy Morgan, which swore Smith off the major-studio stuff forever and sent him hurtling back to his firmly independent roots.
Red State (2010) took its horror inspiration from the hate-filled freaks of Westboro Baptist Church, while 2013’s Tusk offered a macabre tale about a nightmarish, hybrid human walrus. And while Smith’s new flick Yoga Hosers spins off from the fantastical orbit of Tusk, it also harks back to vintage Kevin Smith: Harley Quinn Smith (the filmmaker’s daughter) and Lily-Rose Depp Johnny’s daughter are two yoga-obsessed Canadian high schoolers who work afternoon jobs at a convenience store, where they’re forced to battle one-foot-tall Nazis made out of bratwurst.
Folio Weekly Magazine had an in-depth convo with Kevin Smith to figure out what it’s all about.
Folio Weekly Magazine: Where the hell did the idea of Yoga Hosers come from?
Kevin Smith: This one is like Tusk — it’s not for everybody. None of the stuff I’ve done is for everybody, but this movie is so weird. Tusk and Yoga Hosers are Canadian monster movies. But where Tusk played like a Hammer horror film, this plays more like an ’80s Full Moon Production: Puppet Master or Ghoulies. Maybe a cross between Clueless and Gremlins. It’s a superhero movie for girls, since they fight little one-foot-tall Nazis made of bratwurst — Bratzis — which spring up from the floor of their convenience store. It’s a nutty film — basically a midnight movie for an audience of tweens who can’t really stay up to see it.
How awesome was it to make a movie with such an all-star cast?
So fun. My daughter and I got to make it with Lily-Rose, and Johnny Depp came back from Tusk. We had a blast. The girls were really instrumental in casting the flick once I wrote it. Austin [Butler] was on The Carrie Diaries, which they loved; Tyler [Posey] was on Teen Wolf, which they loved; Natasha [Lyonne] was on Orange is the New Black, which they loved. Tony [Hale] was the one I brought in, because I’m a huge Arrested Development and Veep fan. The rest of the folks we’ve worked with before: The entire cast of Tusk came back. We stayed in the same universe. Both movies are set in the same world. That’s what I like to do. Although I asked them all, “Are you sure you want to do this? The movie’s pretty weird.” And they all said, “Please — we said yes to the walrus thing. Let’s just take the ride to the Bratzi thing.”
How’s the critical reaction been so far?
We went to Sundance in January, and the audiences ate it up with a spoon. The critics kinda bent it over, but that’s the story of my life. But I made a flick with my kid! I never saw that one coming. Ever since she was young, I would take her to see Iron Man, Batman, Spider-Man. And we always said, “Wouldn’t it be nice to see a movie like this — but one that was about girls?” At least this will give girls something to watch. Maybe they’ll think it’s terrible, but then they can use it as inspiration to make a better film.
In the movie, Johnny Depp’s character is an art critic hater (and hunter). Subtle dig or conscious thumb in the eye?
It was a joke! And actually more of an apology than anything. His character in Yoga Hosers wrote a book about the events of Tusk, referencing the fact that it didn’t do well and critics didn’t like it. But ultimately the girls save the critics at the end of the movie. That’s the sweet thing. The guy who creates the Bratzis is me to some degree — he represents the artist run afoul. People at Sundance didn’t really get that. Everyone thinks I have an agenda, but I’ve been doing this too long to give a shit. Twenty-two years, man. I’ve seen it all. It’s like Battlestar Galactica: “this has all happened before — it will all happen again.”
Do you feel that way doing the premiere/Q&A grind?
No — it’s always nice to take a movie out and watch it with the audience and do a Q&A afterward. It’s how I started my career. And it’s fun to do that before it goes into general release. I’m always on the road anyway doing live shows, Q&As, and podcasts, so this is just one more addition to the road show.
Are you excited about coming to Florida?
I like doing premieres in Florida because Mom lives in Florida. She lives near Orlando, so she can meet me anywhere in the state. She likes her kid — likes to see me stand up and talk. She may be the only person in the world who likes me more than I like me.