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Case Number 14524

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The Love Guru

Paramount // 2008 // 86 Minutes // Rated PG-13
Reviewed by Judge Michael Rubino (Retired) // September 16th, 2008

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All Rise...

Judge Mike Rubino doesn't want any advice from this guru whatsoever.

Editor's Note

Our review of The Love Guru (Blu-Ray), published September 17th, 2008, is also available.

The Charge

His karma is huge.

Opening Statement

The Love Guru is Mike Myers's first, big live action comedy since his days as Austin Powers (I'm not counting the horrendous The Cat in the Hat adaptation). This new character, which Myers has "workshopped" for years, was greatly anticipated right up until people saw the first trailer. Suffice it to say, critics and audiences alike deemed this a failure of pretty massive proportions.

I was hoping to buck that trend, to find something in this comedy that most critics missed. I wanted to give Myers a fair shot; plus, I really enjoy hockey, so I hoped, at least, to find those portions of the movie entertaining…

Facts of the Case

The Guru Pitka (Mike Myers) is the second most popular self-help guru in the world. His ridiculously titled books are best sellers, and celebrities flock to his international chain of teaching sites. If only he could get on Oprah, then he would unseat Deepak Chopra and become the top guru in the world.

Enter the Toronto Maple Leafs, who are in the Stanley Cup finals with star player Darren Roanoke (played by Romany Malco, The 40-Year-Old Virgin) distracted by his separation with his wife (Meagan Good, Stomp the Yard). To make matters worse, his wife is now dating the opposing team's goalie, Jacques "Le Coq" Grande (Justin Timberlake). The Leafs' owner (Jessica Alba) and head coach (Verne Troyer) decide to hire Guru Pitka to help solve Roanoke's girl troubles before they lose the Cup.

The Evidence

My once admirable goal of giving this movie a fair shake and a possible good review seem to have been too lofty. There's no doubt that Mike Myers can be a funny guy, after all he did give us Wayne's World, but lately he seems more content to wallow in self-indulgent comedic character showcases that all feel the same. The Love Guru is a broad comedy written with small-minded self-indulgence.

The biggest issue with the film is Myers's character, Guru Pitka. This soft-spoken Eastern religious parody is essentially a bearded version of his Austin Powers routine. There are plenty of winks at the camera, euphemisms, double entendres about genitalia, and dwarf jokes. Strip away the ornate decor of India and the milieu of the Stanley Cup Finals and you've got the same shtick Myers has been doing since Saturday Night Live (when he was truly funny). He could have been successful here, except that the Guru character is paradoxically inconsistent. He changes motivation in every scene, breaking his own principles, abandoning running gags, and bordering on just plain annoying after a while. Considering how long everyone says Myers has been workshopping the Guru character, I expected something a little more rounded and original.

The rest of the acting in the film is decent enough; but really, everyone is just there to prop up Mike Myers. The one big exception to this is Justin Timberlake, who does a surprising and stereotypically goofy French Canadian accent. He doesn't have any inhibitions about the role, which usually has him parading around on camera looking like he's got a cucumber down his pants (that's why they call him "Le Coq," you see). Sadly, he isn't given many good lines to showcase his character, and is instead the same old hat cartoon we've seen plenty of times before.

Just as the Guru Pitka's motivations are inconsistent, so is the actual plot and premise of the movie. Myers, who wrote the script along with Graham Gordy, can't seem to decide whether they want it to be a comedy about the Guru's life, a Bollywood send-up, or a sports film. About half of the movie takes place in or around the hockey arena, and yet the games never actually carry any suspense or athletic drama. There are a few instances in the film where Guru flashes back to his days in India, which end up being some of the more amusing bits, and yet they're only awkwardly tied in with the rest of the story. Finally, there is just one scene in the movie that really imitates the classic Bollywood stereotype, and it's so excellent that they never return to it. It's sad, but the Bollywood ending to The 40-Year-Old Virgin actually feels more authentic to the Indian film industry than the majority of this film. Then again, it's hard to tell what they were going for because the film shifts moods at the drop of a hat (or puck).

The film at least looks decent. The video quality suits the bright, colorful palette of the film nicely, and the DVD's video transfer didn't show any signs of inadequacy. The film's audio, which is in Dolby Digital surround, is equally good, making all that sitar music pretty tolerable.

As is the trend these days, this release of The Love Guru is a two-disc set, with the second disc devoted entirely to a digital copy of the film. If you're masochistic enough to carry this movie around on your iPod, then you're in luck! But there is a boatload of special features on the main disc, and I can honestly say that they're better than the film.

The best part of the special features are the deleted scenes and outtakes. In the standard making-of featurette, director Marco Schnabel and his actors talk about how Mike Myers liked to do multiple takes, trying out different lines and jokes. Much of that is collected here, and the majority of it is better than what they kept in the movie. Also incredibly amusing is the featurette "Back in the Booth with Trent and Jay," which features Stephen Colbert and Jim Gaffigan (who play hockey commentators in the film) just doing as many different takes and jokes as they can. It's more enjoyable than this entire 86 minute movie…There are also two featurettes covering the mechanical elephant and the actors training to play hockey, some trailers, and a blooper reel.

The Rebuttal Witnesses

It's really hard to sit through a comedy and not crack a smile, especially one with this kind of talent and money poured into it. Looking back, however, there were a few moments in the movie that are genuinely funny.

The best aspect of the film, which is expanded upon further in the special features, is the "Back in the Booth" segments with Colbert and Gaffigan. These guys provide the Hockey Night in Canada coverage for the Stanley Cup Finals, and they're absolutely hysterical (in the same way the commentators in Dodgeball were great).

Throughout the movie, Guru Pitka speaks about having to regress Darren Roanoke to his childhood in order for him to recover emotionally. I couldn't help but get the feeling that Myers was sending that message to us; telling the viewer that they need to have the mind of a first grader to endure the continuous stream of wiener jokes that would come their way. Who knows? In the end, though, the majority of the jokes are stale, and it's the film's occasional foray into excessive Bollywood musical numbers that really ring true.

Closing Statement

I failed miserably to defy popular opinion that The Love Guru sucked. It does. It's an unfunny, jumbled, uneven mess designed to stroke the Shrek-sized ego of Mike Myers. And if it was actually funny, then I'd say his ego deserves the stroking…but not even the hockey is enjoyable. Sure, there are a few moments that are actually humorous, but when the majority of the humor can be found in the special features, you know something's wrong.

Hopefully this film's failure will push Mike Myers to return to his roots…or at least let someone else do the bulk of the writing.

The Verdict

Guilty and sentenced to a thousand hours of community service apologizing to everyone who paid to see this.

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Scales of Justice

Video: 90
Audio: 90
Extras: 85
Acting: 80
Story: 40
Judgment: 45

Perp Profile

Studio: Paramount
Video Formats:
• 2.35:1 Anamorphic
Audio Formats:
• Dolby Digital 5.1 Surround (English)
• Dolby Digital 5.1 Surround (French)
• Dolby Digital 5.1 Surround (Spanish)
Subtitles:
• English
• French
• Spanish
Running Time: 86 Minutes
Release Year: 2008
MPAA Rating: Rated PG-13
Genres:
• Comedy
• Sports

Distinguishing Marks

• Deleted Scenes
• Outtakes
• Bloopers
• "Mike Myers and the Love Guru: An Inside Look"
• "One Helluva Elephant"
• "Hockey Training for Actors"
• "Back in the Booth with Trent and Jay"
• Digital Copy

Accomplices

• IMDb








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