Movie Review for The Love Guru (2008)

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Review #654 of 365
Movie Review of The Love Guru (2008) [PG-13] 88 minutes
WIP™ Scale: $7.50
Where Viewed: Harkins Ciné Capri at Northfield 18, Denver, CO
When Seen: 20 June 2008
Time: 3:30 pm
DVD Release Date: Unscheduled (please check back)
After the Credits: There is nothing after the credits.
Film's Official WebsiteFilm's Trailer

Soundtrack: Download now from Guru Pitka's Ashram Band - The Love Guru (Music from the Motion Picture) - or - order the CD below

Directed by: Marco Schnabel (debut)
Written by: Mike Myers (Austin Powers in Gold Member) • Graham Gordy (War Eagle, Arkansas)

Featured Cast (Where You Might Remember Him/Her From):
Mike Myers (Shrek the Third) • Jessica Alba (The Eye) • Justin Timberlake (Shrek the Third) • Romany Malco (Baby Mama) • Verne Troyer (Austin Powers in Goldmember ) • Meagan Good (One Missed Call) • Manu Narayan (Two Men in Shoulder Stand ) • John Oliver ("Green Wing" ) • Stephen Colbert ("The Colbert Report") • Jim Gaffigan ("My Boys") • Ben Kingsley (The Wackness) • Telma Hopkins ("Half and Half")
Cameos By: Jessica Simpson as herself, Kanye West as himself, Deepak Chopra as himself, Mariska Hargitay as herself, and Rob Blake as himself

Click for 'Review Lite' [a 150-word or less review of this film]
Click to see photos or video coverage from the Premiere of The Love Guru
Click to read the spoiler points for The Love Guru
For weeks has been receiving a barrage of emails begging publication of notices to boycott Mike Myers's The Love Guru on the grounds that it discriminates mercilessly against the Hindu faith. It is the policy of not to criticize a film prior to it having been screened. Well, now it has and let the floodgates fairly open.

Should the film be boycotted on the grounds of religious discrimination, perhaps, yet above and beyond that, it should probably be avoided on the grounds that it's a huge disappointment. Given the obviously huge budget for talent (great cast and cameos), special effects (the best one of which was the digital fusion of Mike Myers's adult but made up to make him look younger with make-up on the body of a young boy to make him look like a little kid—a whole movie with this technique could be an amusing proposition), sets, locations, and two elephants, one would have thought the film would be a grand success. Instead, it's a tribute to Hollywood largesse and the notion that ego should come before substance. The main reason to hate this film is that it really had potential were it not for the fact that in nearly every instance where a comedic choice was to be made, the lower road was taken. If you're not a religious person, even you might feel the need to confess some sins after seeing it. No doubt there were some very creative and funny parts, but you have to sift through so many other un-funny or shouldn't be funny parts as to make the film something Dieter himself would have said, "You've grown tiresome." And admitting this is fairly painful for a couple of reasons: 1) Who doesn't want to see another great Mike Myers film—come on Austin Powers was brilliant, and 2) Who doesn't want there to be at least one really brilliant, commercially successful, non-Judd Apatow enhanced, non-animated, ROLF comedy this year? We'll have to keep waiting.

The basic story is that of a pop, #2 (behind Deepak Chopra) Guru and spiritual leader named Maurice Pitka (Myers)—the son of traveling missionaries, who, through Morgan Freeman voice-over, narrates his own story about a Guru who in solving a life crisis of his best pupil finds his own way toward love for himself.

…a huge disappointment.

The trick is that he's been saddled with a chastity belt that can only be unlocked when he truly loves himself first. He's been hired by the loathed owner of the Toronto Maple Leafs, Jane Bullard (Jessica Alba), to rejoin the now feuding star player Darren Roanoke (Romany Malco) and his wife Prudence (Meagan Good) into a happy couple so the team can finally win the Stanley Cup. Prudence has fallen into the eagerly awaiting arms of L.A. Kings goalie, Jacques Grande (Justin Timberlake), and Maple Leafs coach Punch Cherkov (Verne Troyer) is worried that, without Darren in perfect form, they'll have no chance to win it all. Do Hockey and hokey Hinduism mix? Well, not so much. Between the misguided performance of the Guru Pitka's teacher, the Guru Tugginmypudha (Ben Kingsley) to the incessant little people jokes jabbed at Vern Troyer's character, it's clear that Mike Myers took the gloves off and let his mind and that of his co-writer Graham Gordy run wild down every uncomfortable path they could think of. There's no questioning some very clever puns and language have been used, but at the expense of good taste and common sense.

Perhaps to grasp the potential pitfalls for determining if the film is offensive, one has to imagine for a moment that the top Bollywood comedic actor has decided to make a film called, "The Love Monk" who rides around on a donkey and gets hired to bring together a professional cricket player and his wife using methods he learned from his days in the Monastery near Rome where he grew up when his Hindu parents were killed on a Hindu mission to Italy. He's now famous as a spiritual leader and guide known for such books as Mother Theresa Was A Saint, but Even She Knew How to Kick Up Her Heels and phrases like "Quit yoUrself, Risk Alienating No one™". His cross-eyed Monk Mentor named Father Lubinon diSchlonga asked him and his rival friend, Bill Graham, as young boys why each wanted to become a Monk. Billy replied, "I want to be able to guide people into a life of spirituality," and the junior Love Monk replied, "It will make me more popular with girls." At which time he is fitted with a chastity belt until he learns to love God more than himself. Hmm, sounds like a film like this wouldn't be too well received in the USA now does it?

…hard to love.

This kind of humor, which might seem harmless, is far from that. It's actually tasteless, and wears incredibly thin after a while anyway. It's too bad that so much talent and money went into making this dreadful film. It's too bad so many A-list stars agreed to be in it. It's too bad that Oprah allowed her name and show to be used as the pinnacle of approval for the The Love Guru in his attempts to out do his rival. It's too bad that nobody saw this was a misguided idea from the start and took the film down an entirely different path. Perhaps lampooning windbag, right wing, politically incorrect, double-speaking, radio talk show hosts or something would have been a better way to go than leaders of a prominent religious faith.

On the bright side, actually, the acting is decently good. And, as mentioned, there are rare, solidly funny, non-offensive parts. On the whole, though, The Love Guru is hard to love.

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Related Products from
Other Projects Featuring The Love Guru (2008)
Cast Members
Mike MyersJessica AlbaJustin Timberlake
Romany MalcoVerne TroyerMeagan Good
Manu NarayanJohn OliverStephen Colbert
Jim GaffiganTelma Hopkins
Marco Schnabel
Mike MyersGraham Gordy
CD Soundtrack

Review-lite The Love Guru (2008) [max of 150 words]
Hindu boycott or not, Mike Myers's The Love Guru can be avoided on many other grounds. While certainly quite offensive not just to Hindus but to all people of common sense and good taste, the film lacks a good purpose and possesses a particularly derivative plot. The talents of the great cast and cameos as well as the unlimited comedic talents of Mike Meyers mostly are wasted. It's too bad because everyone is eagerly awaiting the first non-Apatow, non-Animated, pure comedy of the year. [What Happens in Vegas is still by far the best dramedy of 2008.]

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1 comment:

John Thomas "Kooz" Kuczmarski said...

Wow. Had no idea love guru was this controversial, but now I see how disparaging it is to hindus. You poked at some of the dangers of being involved in such an indirectly villifying satire; I hope this doesn't blemish mike meyer's career. He just had such cutting edge performances with stuff like Wayne's world and Austin powers. He should probably scrutinize the social impact of roles like this ahead of time, non?