The Love Guru
Mike Myers' first live-action comedy in five years has a few good yuks, but The Love Guru's laughter karma fizzles more than sizzles.
Myers' Guru Pitka could have used a little more back story and a little less shtick. The thin plot has Pitka uttering philosophical piddle like "an eye for an eye leaves everyone blind," and repeating his mantra "Mariska Hargitay" over and over. But Pitka is not happy with his standing in the spiritual community--especially with the success story of his childhood friend and colleague Deepak Chopra (who cameos in the film). Chopra has been on Oprah, for god's sake! Suddenly, Pitka sees the possibility of the fame when Jane (Jessica Alba), the owner of the Toronto Maple Leafs hockey team, summons him to help get back her star player Darren's (Romany Malco) mojo back, after his wife Prudence (Meagan Good) leaves him for the legendarily well-endowed L.A. Kings star Jacques "Le Coq" Grande (Justin Timberlake). Pitka's spiritual mission? Get Darren and Prudence back together in time for the Leafs to win the all-important Stanley Cup.
If you're looking for one-man shows, Mike Myers is your man. Clearly, the actor is this generation's Peter Sellers, choosing to play characters far from his own persona, such as spy Austin Powers or Wayne Campbell. Guru Pitka fits right in. In Love Guru, Pitka throws all sorts of self-help mumbo jumbo around hoping some of it sticks. He is like a distant cousin to other Sellers incarnations in films such as The Magic Christian, I Love You, Alice B. Toklas and particularly his Indian actor Hrundi V. Bakshi in The Party. But Love Guru doesn't match those films or even any part of the Austin Powers trilogy, largely because the gags take precedence over any true character development. For every Bollywood musical takeoff that works, there's a couple of bits that fall flat. It's hit and miss, despite Myers best efforts to sell this show as something more than an SNL sketch. Surrounding the star is the spectacularly unfunny but still beautiful Alba and the surprisingly funny AND beautiful Justin Timberlake, who holds his own in the comedy department, especially with his broken Canadian accent. Austin Powers sidekick Verne Troyer is back as the not-so-swell coach of the Leafs, and he makes a good hockey puck, while Ben Kingsley does his thing as the master Guru Tugginmypudha.
First-timer Marco Schnabel is credited as director, but it's a good bet star/co-writer (with Graham Gordy) Mike Myers was calling most of the shots; it appears Myers did not have someone behind the camera reigning him in. Too bad. A sharp comedy director could have shaped the film into more than just a series of sight and sound gags designed for quick laughs at the expense of a coherent story. For his first live action film in five years (he does the animated Shrek films in between), it's a little disappointing The Love Guru isn't better than it is, particularly from the creative mind behind the Austin Powers trilogy. Myers says he came up with this idea while seeking spiritual guidance from Deepak Chopra after his father died. The opportunity for some sharper satire and a stronger storyline is traded for a hit or miss 88 minute skit that has its moments but never finds it's true Karma.
Hollywood.com rated this film 2 stars.