Movie Review: The Love Guru
By Matthew Huntley
June 30, 2008
If Mike Myers was to write and star in Austin Powers 4, it might have turned out something like The Love Guru. The Austin Powers franchise, many would agree, gradually lessened in quality as it went on and The Love Guru, which bears many similarities, is the final straw. Watching this movie is like hearing the same joke a fourth time, but instead of laughing at it, you end up feeling sorry for the person telling it. Once upon a time, Myers was on to something, a brand of irreverent comedy that just seemed to stick and hit many marks. Now, it seems, there are no marks left to hit. So please, Myers, stop swinging!
The Love Guru is a witless, embarrassing comedy with recycled and juvenile humor. Myers plays Guru Pitka, a white man from India whose dream is to become the world's most popular and respected self-helper. His agent, Dick Pants (John Oliver), thinks Pitka can steal the crown from Deepak Chopra (the real-life spiritualist and writer) if he appears on The Oprah Winfrey Show. To appease Oprah's producers, Pitka must reunite celebrity Darren Roanoke (Romany Malco) with his estranged wife, Prudence (Meagan Goode).
Roanoke is the Toronto Maple Leafs' star hockey player and a constant target for the tabloids. Since he broke up with Prudence, Roanoke's game has been off, which isn't a good time since the Leafs are about to play the L.A. Kings in the Stanley Cup Finals. The Leafs' beautiful owner, Jane (Jessica Alba), and the irascible Coach Cherkov (Verne Troyer), hire Pitka to cure Roanoke. This means not only hooking him back up with Prudence, but also coming to terms with his overbearing mother (Telma Hopkins). Roanoke doesn't invite her to any of his games because her presence causes him to compulsively shake. It's up to Pitka to find out why.
Okay, so the plot is goofy, but is it funny? Not really. Myers, who co-wrote the screenplay with Graham Gordy, reaches into his usual bag of tricks, and by now, they've gotten old and pathetic. We get the usual Myers-isms: Characters' names have sexual connotations (Cherkov sounds like jerk off, get it?); real-life celebrities make cameos, including Jessica Simpson and Val Kilmer (the funniest is Mariska Hargitay, whose name is also the Guru's mantra); and the typical slapstick comedy that's about as elementary as a children's TV show.
The movie also features Justin Timberlake as Jacques Grande, the Kings' goalie who's now dating Prudence. Several jokes are written about Jacques' enormous manhood (you hear a "thud" whenever he takes his shorts off), and it's only natural Pitka gets into a fight with Jacques' pet "**."
Really, Myers knows better than this. Most of these gags are miscalculated and obvious. We all know, for instance, Morgan Freeman does many voiceovers for movies, but a joke about Pitka's voice recorder having a "Morgan Freeman" setting? Come on. And I don't know about you, but fart and poop jokes just don't do anything for me anymore. Either I've grown up or these particular jokes have gotten old.
Did I mention Ben Kingsley (yes, Ben Kingsley, the man who played Gandhi) makes an appearance as Guru Pitka's teacher, Guru Tugginmypudha? Did I also mention there's a scene where Tugginmypudha (get the name?) urinates into a basket and there's a fight between men who've dipped mops into the urine basket? If we see a man urinate into a basket and two men about to fight with mops dipped in that urine, someone has to eventually get slapped in the face.
Most of the sight gags - like Pitka trying to hide behind a bush with an elephant or his Indian assistant Rajneesh (Manu Narayan) making an Indian delicacy that resembles a man's genitals - are too blatant. I felt like Myers was saying, "Get it? It's funny because..." Sure, 11- to 13-year-old boys may get a kick out of it, but what about the rest of us? I also didn't find Stephen Colbert and Jim Gaffigan funny as the hockey commentators. They were more or less trying to be like all other sports comedy commentators, like Bob Uecker (Major League) or Jason Bateman and Gary Cole (Dodgeball), but they fall flat.
Bottom line: The Love Guru is a dead zone. Its jokes have been done countlessly in other movies and by the time we get to them here, we yearn for the original movies from which they came. It baffles me that Myers, who's usually a clever writer, would believe this to be funny. He's said this is the movie he was meant to make after the death of his father and that Pitka's journey reminded him of his own. No disrespect to Myers or his personal journey, but I bet it was funnier than this.