Written by: Stacy Centa, the 100-Word Critic
The latest film in the Mike Myers’ pantheon, Love Guru is everything you’d expect from a Myers movie, and slightly less. It’s an over-the-top broad comedy whose obvious jokes are mostly juvenile and insipid, yet beneath the surface (far, far beneath), it’s a gnawing satire on the merchandising of the devout.
Myers is Guru Pitka, the Al Gore of gurudom, destined to be an also-ran to Deepak Chopra. Sure, Pitka is beloved by many but his holy grail is just beyond his grasp. His holy grail is, of course, to be a guest on Oprah. His unknowing lifelong nemesis has already graced the set of Harpo Productions, and now Pitka must as well.
Meanwhile around the globe in Canada, the Toronto Maple Leafs are in the Stanley Cup Finals, but their star, Darren Roanoke (played by the woefully underutilized Romany Malco of Weed’s fame) has lost his for-lack-of-a-better-word ‘mojo’. For some bizarre reason he left his beautiful and voluptuous wife Prudence who has in turn taken comfort in the arms of the goalie of the rival team (whaddayaknow?). Having lost his woman to his competitor, Roanoke’s hand shakes violently and he can no longer play. The owner of the team, played by the stunning Jessica Alba, desperate for a win, thinks so far outside the penalty box she enlists the help of the Love Guru to fix her star’s nuptial issues. The Guru’s manager, The Daily Show’s sprightly John Oliver, makes a deal ensuring Pitka a spot on Oprah if he can get Roanoke back to Prudence. This is how the Guru comes to Toronto and wreaks havoc on the unsuspecting city. Could the plot be any more ridiculous? No.
As one would expect there are the obvious Indian-inspired jokes: the head up the ass yoga asana, the oft-repeated ‘Mariska Hargitay’ greeting, and elephant dung – lots and lots of elephant dung. Then there’s Myers' favorite comedy staple: Verne Troyer. Troyer is the hotheaded hockey coach, who serves only as a walking punch line for short jokes (we get it, the man is the size of a fire hydrant). I guess he’s laughing all the way to bank – or back to the Surreal Life house to pee in a corner – I’m not sure which but I’m sure VH1 is on it.
Throughout the movie, Myers as Pitka, plays a soft-spoken kind-hearted loving man whose cadence is almost a spot-on impression of Chopra. There were a couple of times Myers slipped into his customary Scottish accent, making me wonder if it was the Scots who colonized India instead of the Brits.
For each morsel of wisdom the Guru parses out, a book with an uninsightful title is hawked. Even his insipid acronyms (GURU = Gee yoU aRe yoU), come with a TM symbol. Everything he says is genius. And marketable. This is where Myers tiptoes toward the political line. If you blink you might miss it, but Myers shines a cheeky spotlight on the commerciality of the divine. He’s pointing a sly finger at those who equate believing to buying: to those who peddle it and those who pay for it.
Myers is clearly enjoying taking a soft swipe at a society that has kept Eat Pray Love on the New York Times Bestseller list for months. Unfortunately, those who sustain its presence on the list are not the same people who will buy a ticket for another Mike Myers movie (they gave up hope after Austin Powers 2). The people who are buying the tickets came for the masturbation and boob jokes – and they won’t be disappointed.
The biggest surprise was Mr. Sexyback himself, Justin Timberlake. It’s nearly impossible to share the screen with Myers and be noticed as anything other than a cardboard cut-out, but Timberlake pulls it off. He plays a French Canadian whose personal mascot is a large red rooster <insert obvious big cock joke here> and a hilarious obsession with Celine Dion. He is nearly unrecognizable under the ridiculous facial hair – who knew he’s a spitting image of a mustachioed Topher Grace? He might not be a comic genius, but he fully committed and has rightly earned his place in cameos to come in future Myers’ movies
Along with the exaggerated accents and a more colorful cast than we usually see in these high budget stupid-boy movies, was a bold and beautiful color pallet. Inspired by its Bollywood predecessors the screen is awash in vibrant hues. And what Bollywood film would be complete without intermittent dance numbers? The movie was interrupted three times for delightful intermissions of music that made me nostalgic for actual music videos.
A couple of other surprises helped the movie along. Running commentary on the hockey was provided by a de-spectacled Stephan Colbert and straight-man Jim Gaffigan. The one Indian actor, Pitka’s sidekick, was the moral compass as well as easy on the eyes. I for one would like to see more of him. Oh yeah, and Jessica Alba’s gorgeous.
In the end the Guru reaffirms his approach and sacrifices what he wants most in order to help Roanoke. For a moment I thought Roanoke wouldn’t persevere and that the movie might surprise me. Then it didn’t.
If you’ve seen any Indian movies or sat through any life-affirming seminars, you could see yourself in this movie and be tickled by it. Or be greatly offended. It depends on how well those seminars in forgiveness worked. If you’re a Myers fan, it’s fun but that’s about it. There’s the constant cavalcade of cameos one expects and moments of blatant self-reverence that even a fringe fan will appreciate. (The snippet of Bohemian Rhapsody on the car stereo was a nice touch.) There’s enough gross-out silly humor to keep the ADD crowd content, and enough witty insight for those desperate to see more.
Stacy Centa is on loan to us from her own website, where she exhibits a passion for writing as strong as her fear of too many words. She's one of eight writers exploring daily life in exactly 100 words a day. Check it out HERE .