Review: ‘The Love Guru’

Mike Myers’ latest character “Guru Pitka” borders on self-parody: a lovable clown peddling services of questionable value in a quest for self-fulfillment.

The Guru Pitka (Mike Myers) has been dubbed “The Love Guru” from the self-help advice he gives to people to love themselves and one another, but he still comes in second place to Deepak Chopra (himself). When a hockey team owner (Jessica Alba) hires Pitka to get her star player (Romany Malco) back together with his wife (Meagan Good) to win the Stanley Cup, Pitka must overcome an angry coach (Verne Troyer) and the opposing team’s star player (Justin Timberlake) if he ever hopes to achieve his dream: a guest shot on “Oprah” (and at Jessica Alba, but not necessarily in that order).

After three Austin Powers flicks, a so-so Cat in the Hat and an ogre trilogy, Mike Myers returns with a send up of self-help gurus and Bollywood influences to create “The Guru Pitka.” While the character is new, Myers falls back on some of his tried and true (and tired) routines, such as taking a joke too far in an attempt to make it almost funny again or explaining a joke that falls flat as though the explanation could somehow rescue it. True fans of Mike Myers willing to suffer through this predictability will discover a few moments to treasure of cleverness, originality, and hilarity reminiscent of the original Austin Powers: International Man of Mystery but nowhere near as complete or hilarious a film.

It’s almost as if Guru is a parody of (or a self-tribute to) Myers’ own body of work (or possibly himself), right down to the camera angles. Gag obsessing over something obvious? Check. Over-the-top sets that wallow in the character’s chosen setting? Check. Breaking the fourth wall winking at the audience? Also check. In-character musical interludes? All here. The question is, is Myers more comfortable scripting his character films in this way or that he’s afraid to take any chances that might fall outside his comfort zone? Whichever the case may be, there are genuinely funny moments in the film (the repeated book title gags are fun) as are Pika’s trademarked “chakras” (complete with easy-to-remember “mnemonic devices”).

But for a movie that’s less than ninety minutes, there are far too many stretches of time where nothing at all seems to be happening on screen, and these kill the momentum every time it finally gets going. Verne Troyer is treated like a prop, Jessica Alba has only one scene where she’s allowed to play up anything more than eye candy, and the rest of the cast seems to be there for Myers’ sole amusement. It’s never a good sign when it looks like it was more fun to act in the movie than actually watch it, and since someone cut the scene out of the film from the trailer showing a post-coital Jessica Alba sitting up in bed and uttering the word “Damn!” in response to whatever just rocked her world, it can only be assumed that whomever took final cut of the film did not have the best interest of its core audience in mind.

(a one and a half skull recommendation out of four)

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