- Rated PG-13
- Buy the BD
All photos © Paramount Pictures
Reviewed by Jason Zingale
very summer, there’s at least one movie that critics all over the world are dreading, and this year, that movie is “The Love Guru.” The Mike Myers comedy has already earned its share of protests from those who feel the actor's latest character promotes a negative ethnic stereotype, but that has very little to do with whether or not the movie is any good. We critics have been proven wrong before with films that are not only better than expected, but actually quite enjoyable, yet while “The Love Guru” had the potential to surprise, it’s just as terrible as we anticipated.
Myers stars as the Guru Pitka, the “world’s second most popular neo-Eastern self-help specialist.” Abandoned at the steps of an Indian ashram as a boy, the American teen was raised by Guru Tugginmypudha (Ben Kingsley) as one of his own. Years later, the self-dubbed Love Guru is now a best-selling author and the go-to guy for mending high-profile relationships. No matter how popular he gets, however, he remains in the shadow of his former classmate, Deepak Chopra. Desperate to land a guest spot on Oprah – and thus marking his triumph over his rival – the Guru Pitka takes a job with the Toronto Maple Leafs, who are having a little problem of their own. The Leafs have just made it to the Stanley Cup, but when star player Darren Roanoke (Romany Malco) loses his magic touch following a break-up with his wife (Meagan Good), the Leafs’ owner (Jessica Alba) calls in the Love Guru to reunite the couple in time to win the championship.
It’s been six years since Mike Myers last made a live-action film (the not-up-to-par third installment of the “Austin Powers” series), and while those movies were juvenile and clever, “The Love Guru” is just plain juvenile. Myers is clearly grasping at straws with his newest costumed character, and whether it’s simply because he’s been out of the game for too long, or that I’ve matured as a film critic, he just isn’t funny anymore. Throughout the course of the mercifully short 88-minute runtime, Myers runs through an embarrassing array of recycled jokes, bathroom humor, and recurring gags about extremely long book titles and trademarked acronyms. Some of the material is so bad that it couldn’t even pass for deleted scenes from “Norbit,” and though I did laugh a handful of times (including the always-funny Bollywood spoof), it didn’t make me feel any less guilty for doing so.
If there’s one thing that had the power to change my mind about “The Love Guru,” it was the cast of supporting characters. Among the top contenders is Justin Timberlake, who scores early laughs as the film’s villain, Jacques “Le Coq” Grande, the well-endowed, French-Canadian goalkeeper of the rival L.A. Kings. Unfortunately, the joke wears thin quicker than you’d imagine, as does Ben Kingsley’s cameo as the Guru Pitka’s cross-eyed mentor. Meanwhile, Jessica Alba is relegated to cheesecake duty (again), and Verne Troyer is forced to play the Leafs’ pint-sized coach just so Myers can utilize some unused midget jokes.
Of course, if sports comedies have taught me anything in the past, it’s to expect plenty of laughs from the film’s yin-and-yang commentating duo. The best of the best is undoubtedly Gary Cole and Jason Bateman from “Dodgeball,” but if there was anyone that had the talent to out-do that riotous pairing, it was Stephen Colbert and Jim "Hot Pocket" Gaffigan. Much like the movie itself, however, their performances fall flat, and though it could have something to do with making Gaffigan play the straight man, it’s more likely a product of the piss-poor writing and directing. The credits may say the film was directed by some nobody named Marco Schnabel (AKA Jay Roach’s understudy), but this is clearly Mike Myers’ project through and through. It’s just too bad that he didn’t put as much thought into the script as he did about the manipulatory advantages of hiring a first-time director.
Two-Disc Special Edition Blu-Ray Review:
It may look like the Blu-ray release of “The Love Guru” is jam-packed with special features, but it’s an even bigger waste of time than the movie itself. Along with a lame EPK promo (“Mike Myers and The Love Guru: An Inside Look”) and a featurette on the creation of the film’s animal puppets (“One Helluva Elephant”), the two-disc set also includes a collection of deleted scenes, a short featurette on training Romany Malco and Justin Timberlake for the hockey sequences, and three groups of outtakes that could have just as easily been combined into one section.