Thursday, June 19, 2008

THE LOVE GURU

Review: The Love Guru
1 star (out of 5)
by R. Kurt Osenlund

In "The Love Guru," writer/producer/actor Mike Myers' pitiful attempt at a career comeback, the Guru Pitka (Myers) preaches a life affirming, 5-step philosophy known as D.R.A.M.A.: Distraction, Regression, Adjustment, Maturity and Action. In an attempt to reaffirm my own life after sitting through this offensive trifle, I'm going to base this review around those very criteria. Perhaps then the feature length experience of Myers' newest (and certainly most ridiculous) character will not have been entirely useless.


Distraction.
In a flashback, we see Pitka (an American who was raised by Indian gurus and is now seeking self-help success back in the States, a la Deepak Chopra) learn the concept of success-through-distraction by way of a vomit-inducing exercise dreamed up by his twisted elder, Guru Tugginmypudha (you heard right, and get this: he's played by Ben Kingsley). In it, apprentices fight one another with mops that have been soaked in urine and other foul things. I can't recall exactly why this scene was shown, other than to add to the film's roster of gross gags, but it has something to do with the power of mind over matter. Pitka teaches a similar tactic to Darren Roanoke (Romany Malco of “The 40-Year-Old Virgin”), the star player of the Toronto Maple Leafs whom the guru is hired to pull out of a post-breakup slump so that the team can win the Stanley Cup. This leads to some fairly well filmed excitement on the ice, which I was thankful for simply as a distraction from how bad the rest of this movie is.

Regression.
Mike Myers is 45 years old. Through his twenties and thirties, he created iconic characters like rocking slacker Wayne Campbell and swinging man of mystery Austin Powers. Now, with Guru Pitka, the once-hip funny man is attempting to recycle the same formula he used to popularize his previous personalities in an age in which newer, fresher comedic voices have emerged – with a much better punchline. Myers' recurring, infantile routine of toilet humor, pop culture rip-offs and sly, obscenity laced dialogue is worse than ever here, and the saddest thing to watch is the aging comedian's pure, aloof joy in delivering it. We see Pitka dine on meat pastries that are made to look like scrota, cover his bearded face with popcorn and cotton candy, pick on a midget hockey coach (played by Verne “Mini-Me” Troyer, back for more self-parody) and stage a series of musical breaks that are meant to be homages to Bollywood, but play more like colorful insults. There's not an ounce of maturity left in Myers' work, and with talents like Judd Apatow breathing down his neck, he might want to think about sticking to voicing green ogres.

Adjustment.
This part I dedicate to poor Jessica Alba, a bronze-skinned beauty who looks stunning in pictures, but has quickly become a red flag in heels when it comes to lousy movies. With the exception of Robert Rodriguez's groundbreaking comic noir “Sin City,” every film that has bore this woman's name has been an utter disaster. From the “Fantastic Four” series, to “Good Luck Chuck,” to “The Eye,” her resume is starting to read like the obituary of a former promising star. In “The Love Guru,” she seems to know this sad fact. As Jane, the much maligned owner of the bottom-ranked Maple Leafs, Alba is not a good enough actress to hide her discomfort in her role. And in moments that lead to an impossible yet inevitable love affair between Jane and Pitka, Alba looks so lost and awkward next to Myers' grotesque creation that it made me think of that famous scene from James Whale's “Bride of Frankenstein.” This girl needs a career adjustment. She's not a skilled dramatic performer, but like Marlene Dietrich and dozens of screen goddesses since, she has a face that was made to be photographed. Get a new agent Ms. Alba, or take up modeling.

Maturity.
This is too easy. See “Regression.”

Action.
Hopefully, the action that will be taken by the readers of this critique is to find a suitable alternative for their night out at the multiplex. Word is already cruising the web of this being the worst movie 2008 has offered so far, and that alone speaks for itself. I haven't even touched on the idiotic inclusion of Justin Timberlake as Roanoke's well-endowed French opponent, Jacques “Le Coq” Grande, or a scene involving two elephants that will certainly have jaws dropping to the floor. The absurdities here are too many to number, and the question of why Hollywood agrees to make this kind of drivel brews steadily in my mind.


Ironically, “drama” is the last thing you'll find in the “The Love Guru,” a perverted mess that may just be the end of the line for Myers. On the movie's website, a cast bio boasts that Myers is the only actor in history to see six of his films gross over $200 million, consecutively. That may be true, but the “Shrek” franchise is a kiddie cash cow with a built-in audience, and in my book, that doesn't really count. If there's justice in the world, and even a trace of integrity left in the American moviegoing public, “The Love Guru” will not continue that trend, but instead pass swiftly from memory.

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