June 22, 2008

Movie Review: The Love Guru

I like Mike Myers, I really do, but this is not a good movie. I remember when I first saw the trailer for The Love Guru, my initial reaction was something along the lines of: "What was that? That looks absolutely terrible!" or some variation along those lines. Those thoughts were followed by: "Well, maybe the film will be better, I do like Myers." Now that I have seen the movie, my initial reaction to the trailer appears to be the most appropriate. The Love Guru is a sad film that offers little in the way of genuine comedy. There were a couple of minor chuckles, primarily involving supporting cast members, and one moment of out loud laughter, but that did not occur until the outtake in the credits. It is not a good sign when the trailers are funnier than the feature (they showed Pineapple Express and Tropic Thunder).

As the movie opens we learn that the Guru Pitka (Myers) is an American who was raised in India, for some unexplained reason, where he studied under Guru Tugginmypudha (Ben Kingsley), don't worry, there is plenty more name play throughout. During his studies he has to compete with Deepak Chopra (appearing as himself), always coming up second best. This leads to a running gag, Pitka always wanting to be number one.

Anyway, despite his number two status, he operates a successful Ashram in Los Angeles where he greets everyone the same way: hands together, a slight bow, and the words "Marishka Hargitay." All is going well for him until he receives an offer from Jane Bullard (Jessica Alba), the owner of the Toronto Maple Leafs hockey team. You see, their star player, Darren Roanoke (Romany Malco), had a breakup with his wife and that is affecting his all-star play just as the team is making a run for the Stanley Cup. If that isn't enough, Roanoke's wife is now dating rival player Jacques "Le Coque" Grande (Justin Timberlake), so named for his legendary endowment.

Well, Guru Pitka takes the job, seeing it as his ticket to the top. This brings him into conflict with Roanoke, Grande, and the team's diminutive coach Punch Cherkov (Verne Troyer). From this setup, much comedy ensues. Well, much comedy is supposed to ensue. Unfortunately, what is thought to be funny just turns out to be stupid.

In the past I have spoken of that fine line between stupid funny and stupid stupid. The Love Guru does not get anywhere near the stupid funny line. It is not for any lack of trying. As I sat there watching I could see Myers struggling for everything. Perhaps he is just out of practice, after all, this is his first live action film since 2003's The Cat in the Hat (and we all remember how good that was, right? anyone?).

Myers creation of Guru Pitka is not so much a new creation as it a retooling of his Austin Powers character. It is the same old schtick just dressed up in some new colors. Rather than riding the wave of an out of time swinging spy, we get a sexually repressed American peddling new-agey Hindu themes. It just isn't that funny. It does not help that whenever Myers tells a joke he turns and winks to the camera. Ugh. Not funny.

As I sat in the theater, jokes falling dead all around me, I wondered where Austin was, where Wayne was (thanks for the reference to better times), where the poet from So, I Married an Axe Murderer was, better characters all. This is just warmed over refuse that didn't make the cut before.

Justin Timberlake, whose over-the-top antics stole every scene he was in, and from the duo of Stephen Colbert and Jim Gaffigan as a mismatched pair of hocley announcers, delivered all of the genuinely funny moments. Jessica Alba is an attractive, yet insubstantial presence, and Verne Troyer is all right, but the short jokes can only take you so far.

Myers is a talented comedian; just watch some of those older films, or his Saturday Night Live sketches. This movie just meanders all over the place throwing out as many potential laughers as it can, hoping that something will stick. The material is sophomoric, but that isn't the problem, the problem is that it is embarrassing more than it is funny.

Bottomline. I wanted to like this, despite my trailer reactions and my very low expectations, I wanted to like this. Mike, I'm still a fan, just stop working below your talent level. Hopefully the next time we see Mike the movie will be funny.

Not Recommended.


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