Although most of my fellow critics bashed the shit out of it, I simply had to see for myself if Mike Myers’ zany antics in The Love Guru were really as bad as they made it out to be. They’re not. And while it is by far not his best work to date, it certainly isn’t his worst either (that distinction rests squarely on the shoulders of The Cat in the Hat).
What he has done, however, was take a cue from his SNL alumni brother Adam Sandler and ratcheted his already adolescent sense of humor ten rungs deeper into the sludge (you may recall Sandler’s You Don’t Mess with the Zohan). That’s right, there are more jokes about dicks, shit and sex than I thought was humanly possible (take that Judd Apatow). Hell, for good measure – I’m guessing just because it hadn’t been done before outside of a PBS documentary – he threw in some elephants screwing too. Shock value, from an unexpected source, can sometimes spell comedy gold.
Yet even with the lowest common denominator being dropped, the base jokes are the same. Instead of playing a half-wit spy (Austin Powers) or a large, lovable ogre (Shrek) with an accent, he is Pitka Ashram, an Indian-accented, second rate self-help guru who speaks at lowly corporate functions where he hawks his self discovery books and trademarks creative acronyms made from regular words (i.e., BIBLE – Basic Instructions Before Leaving Earth and COCK – Clarity Organization Charm Knowledge). He smells the big time when the very sexy owner of the Toronto Maple Leafs, Jane Bullard (Jessica Alba), comes knocking on his door. She is in desperate need to get her star player, Darren Roanoke (Romany Malco), focused back on the Stanley Cup Playoffs and off of the fact that his wife has left him to screw a rival player named Jacques “Le Coq” Grande (Justin Timberlake).
And so starts Roanoke’s path to enlightenment, which Pitka concludes has five steps and is known as DRAMA – Distraction, Regression, Adjustment, Maturity and Action. Some of the jokes in The Love Guru are stronger than others but this is shouldn’t come as much of a surprise – most of Myers’ movies suffer from this malady. Here these duds mostly take on the form of uninspiring midget jokes at the expense of Verne Troyer, who plays coach Punch Cherkov. On the other hand, Myers shows his smarts when he mockingly sings “More Than Words” and “The Joker” while playing the sitar. It’s also hard to not laugh at the abject stupidity of it all; the accents are purposely terrible and seeing Ben Kingsley take on the role of the terribly cross-eyed Guru Tugginmypudha is funny all by itself.
Standing out in the movie though are Stephen Colbert as the play-by-play commentator Jay Kell and Ms. Alba – for obviously different reasons. Colbert simply steals every scene he is in with his off-the-wall statements and actions. Alba still proves she can’t act, but like I’ve said in other movie reviews, if she is given a small part with little expectations to live up to, she can excel. In a nutshell, she looks fantastic throughout The Love Guru and even better dancing in the traditional Indian garb at the end of the movie.
But anyway you cut it, it is good to see Myers break away from the steady stream of sequels he’s been crapping out. The Love Guru proves he’s still got some “mojo” left in the tank – even if it appears that the engine has begun to run on fumes.