Eric D. Snider

The Love Guru

Movie Review

The Love Guru

by Eric D. Snider

Grade: B-

Released: June 20, 2008

 

Directed by:

Cast:

In the six years since "Austin Powers in Goldmember," the last film that Mike Myers conceived and headlined, his obsession with penises has not diminished. If anything, as "The Love Guru" demonstrates, the obsession has only grown stronger. Also especially prized by Myers: jokes about urine, poop, and testicles. The more juvenile, the better!

Yet there are also moments in "The Love Guru" that are wildly inventive and absurdly funny. He and his writing partner, Graham Gordy, conceive all manner of convoluted wordplay and surprising sight gags (staged by first-time director Marco Schnabel), including some that are amusing if only for their out-of-nowhereness. Why begin with a musical number in which an Indian guru sings "9 to 5"? Well, why not?

The combination of depressingly sophomoric and genuinely witty humor makes "Love Guru" a mixed bag, to say the least -- but it's much better than I expected, and not nearly as awful as the film's trailers (and Myers' embarrassing in-character public appearances) have made it look. Believe me, I'm as surprised as you are that I wound up sort of enjoying it.

Myers plays Guru Pitka, an Indian-born self-help superstar second only to Deepak Chopra in popularity. With a mantra of "mariska hargitay," he travels the world dispensing touchy-feely advice at sold-out seminars, where suckers fall for faux-deep linguistic tricks like "Instead of being 'nowhere,' I'll teach you to be 'now, here.'" Oooh, heavy.

Pitka has written a number of bestselling books with titles like "If You're Happy and You Know It, Think Again," and his specialty is helping people with their relationships. His services are called for when Darren Roanoke (Romany Malco), star player for the Toronto Maple Leafs, loses his wife to a rival player and goes into a professional slump. Can Guru Pitka get Darren and the missus back together in time for the Stanley Cup playoffs?

The cuckolding fellow hockey star is Jacques "Le Coq" Grande (Justin Timberlake), a doofy Celine Dion-loving Quebecois nerd who has wooed away Mrs. Roanoke (Meagan Good) with his superior physical gifts. Those gifts are the subject of many, many jokes, few of them funny, except insofar as Justin Timberlake -- who has more than adequately proven his comedy skills on "SNL" -- imbues the character with unself-conscious glee.

Less successful at providing laughs are Jessica Alba, who can neither act nor be funny but who plays the owner of the Maple Leafs; and regular Myers abuse victim Verne "Mini-Me" Troyer, who plays the team's tiny coach. I guess work is work, but why would you keep performing in movies where the whole point is to humiliate you?

Myers is the focal point of most of the film, and there's no question the operation runs out of steam halfway through, if not sooner. Guru Pitka is not as inherently hilarious a character as Myers thinks he is, and the story is scarcely more than an outline. But once again, there are those gem-like moments of inspired comedy that make it worthwhile. The occasional scenes with Stephen Colbert and Jim Gaffigan as sportscasters chronicling the Leafs' fortunes are unfailingly well-written and sharply performed. If Myers ever employs that kind of discipline again -- less mugging, more focus -- he might someday recapture the glory of the first Austin Powers movie. Until then, here's this uneven but funny production.

Grade: B-

Rated PG-13, pervasive double entendre, vulgarity, sexual innuendo, and some profanity

1 hr., 26 min.

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This item has 15 comments

  1. Tom says:

    B-? Eric is mellowing in his old age!

  2. Steven Adami says:

    Are you kidding me? This thing was painful to say the least. Eric, you were probably just feeling elated that you got in under the noses of Allied and it clouded your judgement.

  3. Matt says:

    Myers is the focal point of most of the film, and there's no question the operation runs out of steam halfway through, if not sooner.

    Sounds like another "Wayne's World."

  4. mike says:

    "but why would you keep performing in movies where the whole point is to humiliate you?"

    he did a good job of humilating himself on the surreal life.

  5. Ken B. says:

    Reno 911: Miami was 10,000 times funnier than this swill; the previews are the most horrifying I've seen in years, and that includes the Saw series...

  6. Brian O. says:

    Eric's description of this film as a "combination of depressingly sophomoric and genuinely witty humor" gives me hope because in my opinion that is a spot-on summation of the whole Austin Powers series - which I loved.

    I'm still waiting for it to arrive here (I live in Taiwan at the moment), but unlike Ken B. I will definitely give Myers a chance once it does. The previews haven't impressed me much either, but I can't count how many times previews have given me an completely skewed idea (both to the good and bad) of what a movie will be like.

    Most of all I guess that as a long-time fan I'm just rooting for Mike to pull another rabbit out of his hat. Not all of his films have been great, but that doesn't change the fact that he's still a damn funny fellow and has at least the potential of creating another comedy icon. He can't have declined as much as M. Night... can he?

  7. panda bear says:

    I am surprised. I do not have very high hopes for this movie, but now i'm starting to rethink it. granted, i will not pay actual money to see this, but it's nice to know that it's not just another crap movie like hollywods's been producing lately.

    i would like to comment about jessica alba ("who can neither act nor be funny"). her sole purpose in this movie (and hollywood in general) is to stand around and look pretty. she's the eye-candy, with no real purpose but to give movie-goers some other incentive to see the movie. just sayin'.

  8. Rob D. says:

    I mostly agree with Eric's review. I do think that most critics were too hard on this movie. It had potential but it definitely got worse during the second half. We needed more wordplay and book titles and less bathroom/penis humor. I don't think it was as good as Zohan, but both movies are pretty funny and obviously totally crazy.

  9. Mike Boyer says:

    Eric,

    You & Myers just lost all credibility. This may be the worst movie of all time

  10. Moe says:

    you must be gay. there's no other reason you would be at all entertained by this movie except you like the fact that Myers has an "obsession with penises has not diminished. If anything, as "The Love Guru" demonstrates, the obsession has only grown stronger. Also especially prized by Myers: jokes about urine, poop, and testicles." and you can relate on every single level because of that shared affinity...

    such a waste

  11. Gumby says:

    My wife and I saw it (albeit with a sneak preview free pass, and already hammered before entering the theater) and enjoyed the film. His self-help book titles were the best jokes running through-out. Overall, I would say it produced a lot of chuckles but not any full-on belly laughs. It wasn't the funniest film of all time, nor was it the worst. Overall a good way to kill an hour and a half with a good buzz. I can't say that it would be worth the time AND the money, though. ;-)

  12. MJ says:

    I didn't really see any of the previews but I've always loved Myer's movies so I watched it this afternoon. All I can say is I honestly tried to find it funny but its a bit of a disaster. You'd definitely want to have a few drinks before hand. Really really lame. It definitely doesn't deserve anything close to 4 stars, alot closer to 1.

  13. halfway2forty says:

    Totally, instead of thinking of clever sight-jokes, it shows us two elephants humping each other and tries to pass that off as a joke.

  14. halfway2forty says:

    So, Eric, how does it feel knowing you gave a positive review to a movie that just won the Razzie award for Worst Picture?

  15. dougrad says:

    Wow, a B-! This is probably the only somewhat positive review of "The Love Guru" that I have seen, either online or in print. However, Eric, I tend to like all the movies you give good or okay reviews to, even if everyone else hates them, so maybe I'll actually like this one as well. I'm also a pretty big fan of stupid comedies.

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