- Marco Schnabel
- Mike Myers, Jessica Alba, Justin Timberlake, Romany Malco
- 86 min.
- Release Date
In The Love Guru, Mike Myers places himself in yet another comedy that’s not so much a movie as a series of pop-culture references, scatological humor, and penis jokes. There have been more coherent plotlines and funnier dialogue written on bathroom walls. Having endured two Wayne’s World and three Austin Powers movies, I tried to don my junior high cap for what I expected to be adolescent humor, but even the bawdiest teenager might wonder what’s up with Myers’ preoccupation with lower body functions.
During the opening credits, you’ll say to yourself, “Did I just see Sir Ben Kingsley’s name alongside the procession of low-brow comedians?” And then you will be forced to accept that, yes, you did see Kingsley on the credits. The Oscar-winning actor appears as the cross-eyed Guru Tugginmypudha, who teaches a wayward American boy (Myers) all he knows about spreading peace, spirituality, and love. The boy grows up to become Guru Pitka, a figure so desperate for fame he’ll do just about anything for a guest seat on Oprah’s couch.
Co-written by Myers, the film contains the Canadian performer’s love for hockey as a central device. Pitka is hired by Toronto Maple Leafs owner Jane Bullard (Jessica Alba, whose affinity for bad comedies baffles me) to get her star player Darren Roanoke (Romany Malco) back together with his wife Prudence (Meagan Good) in time for the Stanley Cup playoffs. Prudence has made off with the Los Angeles competition’s star player (Justin Timberlake), named Jacques “Le Coq” Grande. Clearly, Myers is no fan of subtlety (there’s even a character named “Dick Pants” for those of us incapable of reading between the lines). Myers’ brand of humor has a pubescent tone that’s grown less and less charming over the years, wearing thin with every new accent, mustache, or prosthetic nose, each one a mere shade different than the last. His movies use plot seemingly as an excuse to perpetuate dumb jokes obviously thought up far in advance of the story. His sketch comedy roots birthed on Saturday Night Live have never dissipated, and he’s grown little as a comedian since the early 1990s.
No matter the character, we always have the impression that it’s Mike Myers underneath that makeup. He never disappears into his roles, and so his movies remain cheeky, punctuated with a wink at the camera (something he does more than once). And while that works on television sketch shows, in the filmic realm Myers’ movies amount to little more than spoofs, the lowest of all lows. Perhaps that’s why the first Wayne’s World and So I Married and Axe Murderer remain his best films, themselves their own storylines. Austin Powers simply spoofed James Bond, the Shreks spoof storybook fantasies, and now The Love Guru spoofs Bollywood. Not that any of the Indian characterizations within are accurate, or even make sense: While training to become a guru, Pitka is taught martial arts by jousting with urine-logged mops—to my knowledge, not a known Indian stereotype. And then there’s the Bollywood-inspired musical numbers of Dolly Parton’s “9 to 5” and the Steve Miller Band’s “The Joker”, which, I suppose, are cute and ironic for their displacement.
But India isn’t the film’s only target. Myers still has an evident preoccupation with dwarfism, since an inordinate amount of the film’s humor rest on the shoulders of Verne Troyer (aka Mini Me), who has decidedly lost all self-respect as the butt of Keebler elf and Hobbit jokes. (Note: The movie’s single redeemable feature is a well-timed line by Troyer, shown in the end credit outtakes.) Beating its audience in the head with stupidity, The Love Guru becomes tedious after its first few scenes, making this 88-minute comedy one of the longest movie experiences of the year. Half way through, you’ll begin looking around for the handle to flush this fart and poop-centric material down, but no such handle exists. Our only comfort is a scene during the opening credits where Pitka attempts a yoga maneuver that leaves his head lodged up his own rear… I smiled to myself, because oddly enough, as I watched the movie, he and I were seeing the same image.