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Overall Rating

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Worth A Look: 8.33%
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Pretty Crappy55.56%
Sucks: 30.56%

4 reviews, 12 user ratings

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Love Guru, The
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by Peter Sobczynski

"Who's Sari Now?"
1 stars

After many months of speculation and vague anticipation, “The Love Guru,” the first live-action film starring Mike Myers since his forgettable turn as “The Cat in the Hat” and featuring his first original character since he debuted “Austin Powers” over eleven years ago, has finally arrived and to put it bluntly, it isn’t funny at all. In fact, it is the omega to the alpha that is comedy. It is the yang to the ying that is comedy. If comedy were an exquisite guitar solo by Eric Clapton at the peak of his powers, it is more like an endless drum solo pounded out by the guy from Night Ranger (not necessarily the drummer) after a few too many pre-show beers. If comedy were relaxing in sumptuous luxury suite in the finest hotel in Paris while watching the original “Nutty Professor” dubbed en francais with Asia Argento offering up a soothing neck rub, it is more like waking up in a ditch on the outskirts of Joliet with nothing but a shard of glass in your foot and a fresh and fairly obscene tattoo covering your entire backside. If comedy were a simple but exquisite meal that was lovingly prepared by skilled hands and ingested in the company of good friends cheerfully breaking bread, this is more like that burger I got at Culvers one time that left me so stricken with food poisoning that I cannot this day enter the joint (which I have to from time to time, as another member of the household is a fan) without having to suppress a gag or twelve.

At this point, many of you are probably saying something along the lines of “Okay, I get it--you don’t like the movie. Stop stretching things out to interminable lengths by taking your original quip--which wasn’t all that funny or incisive in the first place--and beating it into the ground by repeating it over and over with only the vaguest changes in phrasing!” I agree--what I have done is annoying, irritating, not particularly edifying and certainly not entertaining by even the loosest definition. And yet, what I have done in the previous paragraph (besides killing a fairly good chunk of white space) is to offer up a fairly good representation of what the experience of sitting through “The Love Guru” is really like. This is a film that takes comedic concepts that aren’t particularly amusing the first time around and repeats them over and over again until the movie lasts just long enough to qualify as a feature at 89 minutes, which turns out to be about an hour after even the most indulgent moviegoers will have washed their hands of it and wandered next door to “The Happening” in search of some actual laughs. The best thing about it is that for once, Myers doesn’t crack out the increasingly annoying Scottish accent that he has deployed in virtually every film he has done since “So I Married An Axe Murderer.” The bad news is that what he does come up with here is so painful to behold that I almost found myself hoping that he would bust out the brogue as a distraction.

In the film, Myers plays the Guru Pitka, a fabulously successful self-help expert who dreams of one day besting rival Deepak Chopra and becoming America’s top spiritual adviser. Considering the fact that his spiritual advise consists of fortune cookie-style aphorisms that are torturously phrased so that their acronyms spell out dirty words and phrases (“Be Loving & Open With My Emotions”--get it?), the fact that he is considered second only to Chopra (whose philosophies do not, as far as I know, resemble the walls of the boys bathroom of a lesser junior-high school) may actually be the film’s funniest joke. Anyway, the potential answer to his prayers comes in the form of Jane Bullard (Jessica Alba), the owner of the Toronto Maple Leafs who arrives at his ashram with a proposition. It seems that her star player, Darren Roanoke (Romany Malco), has been on the skids ever since he inexplicably dumped his sexbomb wife (Meagan Good) and she responded by taking up with his greatest rival, L.A. Kings star goalie Jacques “Le Coq” Grande (Justin Timberlake). Now that the two teams are scheduled to compete for the Stanley Cup, she asks Pitka to come to Toronto in order to work his magic on Roanoke so that he can reunite with his wife and pull it together in time to win the championship.

And as shocking as it may sound, that is pretty much the entire plot of “The Love Guru” in a nutshell. Oh sure, there are a couple of additional complications, such as Pitka’s willingness to go for a quick fix in order to instantly achieve his goals, Roanoke’s conflicts with his mother (Thelma Hopkins) and Jane’s self-esteem issues rising from the fact that she believes that the entire city of Toronto hates her and that no man will ever love her because they are all convinced that she has cursed the team forever (something that I somehow doubt is a problem to women who look like Jessica Alba and who own a professional hockey team), but for the most part, the plot of the film involves a dopey self-help expert trying to help cure someone so that they can win the Stanley Cup, he can get on Oprah and someone resembling Jessica Alba can finally get a date. Look, I am no student of the self-help subculture by any means--I still have nightmares from the time I was forced to read the blatherings of Leo Buscaglia in a high school humanities class--but it is such a ripe target for satire that it seems a little unbelievable that Myers and co-writer Graham Gordy would avoid them all in order to instead present a tale that is little more than “The Slugger’s Wife” with more crotch jokes, ethnic stereotypes and horny elephants. (Don’t ask.) Unfortunately, as the film progresses, it becomes clear that when he isn’t busy indulging in one infantile joke about body functions after another (including, but not limited to, two bits involving errant bits of snot, one heaping helping of elephant poop and someone being smacked in the face with a mop soaked in fetid urine), Myers apparently wants us to take Pitka’s words of wisdom to heart as ways to help us go about our daily lives. However, the film can never quite make up its mind whether Pitka is s wise sage with an unconventional manner of doing things or the spiritual equivalent of the broken clock that happens to be right twice a day. In other words, it can’t decide whether we are supposed to be laughing with him or at him and as a result, we do neither.

Since the character of Pitka is not a particularly amusing construct on his own--even a blatantly one-joke creation like Austin Powers contained a little more nuance and subtlety behind the catchphrases and misshapen teeth--the film tries to distract us from the comedic black hole that develops whenever he appears on screen (which, alas, is virtually the entire running time--unlike the “Austin Powers” movies, which at least made room for the infinitely more amusing and interesting supporting character of Dr. Evil, Myers only plays the one role here, outside of a brief cameo as, of all people, himself) with any number of irrelevant and repellent gags that seem to have been cribbed from a joke book aimed at the remedial students attending the aforementioned junior-high school. We get plenty of crotch-related jokes (we learn that Pitka wears a bizarre chastity belt as penance until he learns to love himself that nevertheless fails to provide any sort of protection when he gets punched in the bathing suit area, that Jacques is apparently hung to such an extent that it is a miracle that he doesn’t inadvertently circumcise himself every time that he straps on his skates and that Pitka’s assistant (Manu Narayan) specializes in making a nut-based treat whose preparation seems to have been inspired by the torture scene from “Casino Royale”), lots of wacky names (including characters such as Guru Tugginmypudha and Dick Pants) and a finale that tries (and fails) to explore the comedic possibilities of seeing two elephants copulating in the middle of a hockey game (and no, that is not a euphemism for anything). Look, I am no prude--I am perfectly willing to accept the fact that in the right hands, elements along the lines of those I have mentioned here could inspire some amusing comedy. Here, however, Myers approaches the material along the lines of a nine-year-old child who has just heard his first dirty jokes and will not rest until he has made sure that he has repeated them to everyone he knows.

Of course, this can be vaguely charming and amusing if the person delivering the jokes is an actual nine-year-old kid (though perhaps not yours) but watching a grown man like Myers trying to sell this kind of basement-level garbage is more depressing than funny. He is absolutely awful throughout--the only thing worse than the infantile material that he has given himself to deliver is the smug, self-satisfied attitude that he cops throughout that suggests his supreme confidence that every single thing he says is pure comedic gold. I don’t know whether he just never got a firm handle on the character or whether he was just rusty after spending so long away from the camera but his work here is embarrassing enough to make you long for his relatively restrained turn in “The Cat in the Hat.” Faring little better in the two main supporting roles are Jessica Alba and Justin Timberlake. Although Alba is perhaps not the most profoundly gifted actress of her generation and certainly not the best judge of material (outside of “Sin City” and maybe “The Ten,” her filmography is so grim that “Honey” is actually not her low-water mark), she does have a certain amount of charm and personality to go along with her celebrated good looks. Alas, her role her gives her so little to do that you wonder why she bothered to hire on in the first place, unless it was to prove that the sight of her decked out in full Bollywood garb (which she wears in a couple of ersatz musical sequences) is enough to make her look even more attractive than she ordinarily does. (If that was indeed the reason, I would like to gently suggest to Ms. Alba that there are many genuine Bollywood filmmakers who could have demonstrated that to the world without subjecting her to the torments of having Mike Myers hitting on her.) Timberlake, who has shown promise as an actor in recent months with his performances in “Black Snake Moan” and “Southland Tales” comes off a little better thanks to his willingness to cut loose and act completely goofy and while he is game for whatever the film has in store for him, Myers’ insistence on being front-and-center in virtually every scene means that he has relatively few moments to shine.

“The Love Guru” is not just a typical, run-of-the-mill awful movie--it is the kind of awful that is so all-encompassing that it boggles the mind, especially when you consider the fact that it was the brainchild of someone whose reputation for self-criticism and quality control is so pronounced that he once famously scuttled a big-screen vehicle for his popular “SNL” character Dieter just before it was to go before the cameras when he decided at the last minute that the screenplay, which has been justifiably hailed by nearly everyone who has encountered it, simply wasn’t up to his high standards even though he was the guy who wrote it. It is so bad, in fact, that it inspires reviewers to make seemingly hyperbolic observations regarding its awfulness that you can’t really begin to take seriously until you experience the film for yourself and discover that the critic in question was actually on the money with his remarks. In keeping with that tradition, here is mine. Verne Troyer, whom Myers’ made into a semi-star with the role of Mini-Me in the “Austin Powers” films, turns up again as the Maple Leafs’ Coach Cherkov (get it?) and winds up playing the brunt of a number of stridently unfunny height jokes in lieu of anything resembling a character. I suspect that when we look back on 2008, there is a very good chance that this film will be Troyer’s low career point for the year and bear in mind, he was also in “Postal.”

link directly to this review at https://www.hollywoodbitchslap.com/review.php?movie=17262&reviewer=389
originally posted: 06/20/08 00:00:00
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User Comments

3/15/12 May Q. Horney So Jessica Alba's wooden, Lybarger? Maybe why her presence escaped rather than scared me! 4 stars
9/20/08 Steven James Parker Only a couple of scenes were funny.. I'm sorry but it was pretty bad! 2 stars
9/05/08 Lisa Kyle Does little for me, Still, your pseudonym rocks, "Little Pissed Sunshine"! 2 stars
9/04/08 Little Pissed Sunshine A pity when this kind of stuff is more enjoyable than any serious movie out. 4 stars
8/22/08 Regina George didn't really survive the school bus accident Far rather see this than today's serious"comedies"like ForgettingSarahMarshall or KnockedUp 4 stars
8/05/08 E K Zimmerman Seriously? 1 stars
7/11/08 Will Myers has nuked the fridge with this one. Avoid. 1 stars
7/10/08 L. Slusarczyk Wait for it to come out on TV and watch when you're in a silly mood. 3 stars
6/24/08 MaxTheAxe Was pedestrian at best. Made me laugh at times. 3 stars
6/23/08 rkm After 10th penis reference we left 1 stars
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  20-Jun-2008 (PG-13)
  DVD: 16-Sep-2008


  DVD: 16-Sep-2008

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