Directed by: Marco Schnabel
Starring: Mike Myers, Romany Malco, Jessica Alba, Justin Timberlake, Verne Troyer
Call it a variation on the old bait and switch. The early word on the new Mike Myers’ vehicle, The Love Guru, has been that it is the early frontrunner for worst film of the year. So imagine my dismay when I watch the movie and find out it isn’t actually cripplingly terrible. As far as the race for worst movie of the year is concerned, it isn’t as offensively manipulative as Expelled, and it’s about an hour shorter than Sex and the City. Of course, this doesn’t keep the movie from being just plain bad, but this isn’t saying much when I fully expected the sheer awfulness of this film to turn me into Betty Buckley in The Happening. Chalk it up to diminished expectations.
Six years after the last Austin Powers film, The Love Guru is an obvious attempt at creating yet another franchise for Myers, though the overwhelming critical panning and its fourth-place finish on opening weekend have likely put the kibosh on that. Instead, the movie plays like the beginnings of a comedian—Myers—who is starting to fall out of touch. The humor isn’t all that removed from the Powers films, but The Love Guru is missing the focus of those movies. Where each of those were taking jabs at a genre, a style of filmmaking and themselves, The Love Guru seems to have missed its target simply by not having one to begin with.
Instead, the film becomes a parade of juvenile penis jokes and bathroom humor—including one repulsive scene involving urine-soaked mops—and bad sex puns by way of the characters’ names, most of which don’t even make sense, like the character named Dick Pants (The Daily Show’s John Oliver). On top of this, every other gag is run into the ground through overuse, like the guru’s sacred greeting that sounds like the name of TV actress Mariska Hargitay (“Hartisgay” in the film). Sure, the joke’s explained in the first 10 minutes of the film, but this doesn’t keep it from popping up 60 more times throughout the movie. And if this didn’t sound bad enough, nearly every joke is followed with Myers grinning or winking or mugging for the camera, showing that the man’s way too pleased with himself—or else (when you add in the numerous jokes that have to be dumbed down and explained) he simply doesn’t trust his audience to realize there’s a punch line being delivered.
The story is simple. Myers plays Guru Pitka, India’s second biggest guru behind Deepak Chopra, who has eyes on being a guest on Oprah in order to take the top spot. To do this, he accepts an offer from the owner of the Toronto Maple Leafs (Jessica Alba) to help reunite her slumping star player (Romany Malco, Baby Mama) with his estranged wife (Meagan Good, Stomp the Yard) in time for him to get his game back on track and win the Stanley Cup. The only problem is his wife is currently with rival goalie Jacques “Le Coq” Grande (Justin Timberlake), so named for his apparently impressive endowment—even though there’s a scene where you can see stuffing poking from his Speedo. There’s also some business about Pitka being forced to wear a chastity belt until he truly loves himself, and there’s a romance between him and Alba’s character, but it’s all pretty uninteresting and predictable from the get-go.
It’s a little disappointing, really, that the film isn’t the unmitigated train wreck that it has been painted as. At least that would have been a bit more interesting than the merely unfunny, mediocre comedy it actually is. Rated PG-13 for crude and sexual content throughout, language, some comic violence and drug references.