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Monday, 21 July 2008

The Love Guru, 2009 - Review

Director: Marco Schnabel
Starring: Mike Myers, Justin Timberlake, Jessica Alba
Running Time: 87 minutes
Score: 3.5 / 10

This one from Keiichi73

Mike Myers can't seem to get enough of himself in The Love Guru. He's constantly giggling at his own jokes, and mugging for the camera as if he thinks his latest comedy creation is the funniest thing he's invented. I had a very different reaction. Pitka was born in America, and traveled to India to study under the cross-eyed Guru Tugginmypudah (Ben Kingsley), who taught his students lessons by having them hit each other with urine-soaked mops. Pitka devotes his life and his teachings to helping other people out with their relationship troubles, and hopes his words of wisdom will become so popular, he'll wind up on Oprah.

This is information we learn early on in the film (after Pitka serenades us with a Bollywood-style musical number of Dolly Parton's Nine to Five during the opening credits), and I pretty much knew right there that The Love Guru was going to be a very long 90 minutes. The movie makes a grave miscalculation with its lead character. Guru Pitka is not funny or likable. It's simply Myers talking in a funny accent, and coming up with as many alternate ways for saying "penis" as he can without losing the film's PG-13 rating. Pitka is not even a real character. Myers plays him more as an experiment, as if he's still testing the character out, and we the audience are the guinea pigs being subjected to the experiment. It's been widely reported that the reason why Myers hasn't done a live action film in five years is because he's been fine tuning his Guru Pitka at various comedy clubs until he felt he was ready. He was not ready, and he probably should have spent another five years if the end result is any indication.

Pitka is approached by Jane Bullard (Jessica Alba), the owner of the struggling Toronto Maple Leafs hockey team. Her star player, Darren Roanoke (Romany Malco), hasn't been performing up to the best of his abilities ever since his wife, Prudence (Meagan Good), left him for the goalie on the rival team - a French player named Jacques "Le Coq" Grande (Justin Timberlake, embarrassing himself here) who is known for his over-sized "manhood" as much as he's known for his talent in the game. The character exists simply so that Myers and co-screenwriter Graham Gordy can have the characters say cock a lot more than humanly necessary. The Maple Leafs have a chance at winning the Stanley Cup, but not if Darren doesn't have his head in the game. The team's pint-sized coach (Verne Troyer) doubts that Pitka can turn the situation around, but the Guru is determined to help. He'll do this by finding a way to distract Darren from his problems (By forcing him to watch two elephants having sex, thereby taking his mind off of his problems with his wife. You figure it out.), and help him confront his over-bearing mother (Telma Hopkins), who has long cast a shadow over the star player.

The Love Guru is not a comedy, it is a cry of desperation on behalf of Myers and everyone involved. Comedy is funniest when it seems to come naturally out of the material, but everything seems so forced and strained here. It's almost like if they can't think of something funny to do, they'll throw in elephants humping each other, or light a midget on fire. And if that doesn't work, they'll throw in another couple references to male genitalia. If there's a bigger cry of comic desperation than limp innuendo humor, then it has to be out of the blue musical numbers that are not funny in themselves, the movie just expects us to laugh at the fact that the characters are suddenly singing for no reason. You know, I think I'm going to have to take that last statement back. There's an even more desperate form of comedy, and that would have to be building an entire scene around the fact that Guru Pitka has a different kind of food stuck in his beard each time we see him, building up to a sight gag where his entire beard is cotton candy. This movie has so many scenes of just plain wrong-headed desperation, you'd almost think it was intentional.

While Myers cackles and mugs his face with glee, pretending that he's having a great time, the rest of the cast kind of look like they wish they were somewhere else. Jessica Alba looks uncomfortable, and her scenes where she's supposed to be warming up to Pitka look more like she's hanging out with him out of pity more than anything else. It's not unusual in a comedy to have the supporting players stand in the background so the star can do his thing, but the cast here seem just as confused as I was as to what we were supposed to be watching Myers doing.

There is not a single laugh or moment of inspiration in The Love Guru. It's just a sad, depressing slog through material that's not funny to start with, taken by actors who seem to know it's not funny. It's bad enough when a comedy can't generate any laughs, but it gets even worse when you start feeling sorry for everyone up on the screen. You want to ask them and their agents what they were thinking when they signed up. You want to remind Myers of just how funny he can be, and why this material and character don't suit him. But most of all, you want to be able to somehow turn back time to before you gave the ticket counter your money, walk back out the door, and figure out another way to spend 90 minutes.

The Love Guru is released in the UK on 1st August

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Anonymous said...

Fantastic review..i will stay well clear of this one!