Myers' 'Love Guru' insults only the I.Q.

Posted: June 20, 2008

Recently, media types have been deluged with e-mails from one Rajan Zed, a Hindu chaplain from Nevada, decrying Mike Myers' The Love Guru for lampooning Hindus and Hinduism, and for "using Hindu terms frivolously."

The Indo American religious leader has a point. When Myers' Guru Pitka bows in salutation, his Hindi-like greeting goes "mariska hargitay." Among his best-selling spiritual tomes: If You're Happy and You Know It, Think Again, and the self-esteem manual Stop Hitting Yourself, Stop Hitting Yourself, Why Are You Still Hitting Yourself?

And in a flashback to Pitka's boyhood, the pimply lad can be seen genuflecting at the (crossed) feet of Guru Tugginmypuddha - a cross-eyed sage played with a phony Indian accent by Ben Kingsley, winner of an Oscar for Gandhi.

But the folks who should really take offense at the unwaveringly juvenile comedy of The Love Guru are just about any and every human male. Myers' merrily stupid send-up of Eastern enlightenment belongs in the Guinness Book of World Records as the movie with the most penis jokes in the history of Hollywood. It starts with Justin Timberlake's character - a Quebecois hockey star by the name of Jacques "Le Coq" Grande - and continues with Kingsley's yogi bequeathing the teenage Pitka a chastity belt. That's just the, um, tip of the phallic hilarity.

In reality, The Love Guru isn't likely to offend anyone - save, perhaps, audiences that prefer their comedy sophisticated, not sophomoric, and devoid of references to bodily functions. Like Myers' Austin Powers spy spoofs, The Love Guru piles dumb gag upon dumb gag - it's like benign pummeling. Occasionally, you just have to laugh.

In the case of The Love Guru, very occasionally.

Pitka is an American, left on the steps of an ashram in India when he was a child, who now doles out words of wisdom from his lavish Los Angeles perch - an ashram outfitted in grand Bollywood style, replete with a VIP room. Pitka, second only to Deepak Chopra in the guru biz, is hired by Jane Bullard (Jessica Alba), owner of the Toronto Maple Leafs, to get the team's star player, Darren Roanoke (Romany Malco), back in the game. Since Roanoke discovered his wife with the L.A. Kings' legendarily endowed goalie, Monsieur Grande, he's been unable to play. The Stanley Cup championship is here, and if Pitka can restore Roanoke's game - and marriage - he'll get a fat check, and a guest spot on Oprah, too.

The Love Guru comes complete with musical numbers, copulating elephants, Comedy Central employees (Stephen Colbert, John Oliver), and cameos from Val Kilmer, Jessica Simpson, and, yes, Deepak Chopra. Myers, wearing a bulbous prosthetic nose and fake beard, does his blissful yogi shtick, and Alba is impossibly cute as the NHL franchise owner and Pitka love interest.

Diminutive Verne Troyer, the Mini-Me of Austin Powers, reteams with Myers to play the Maple Leafs manager. He's the butt of many a little-person joke, having to endure cracks about gnomes and the Lollipop Guild. But even he doesn't seem especially offended.


The Love Guru ** (out of four stars)

Directed by Marco Schnabel. With Mike Myers, Jessica Alba, Justin Timberlake, Romany Malco and Ben Kingsley. Distributed by Paramount Pictures.

Running time: 1 hour, 27 mins.

Parent's guide: PG-13 (bathroom humor, profanity, sex, adolescent themes)

Playing at: area theaters


Contact movie critic Steven Rea at 215-854-5629 or srea@phillynews.com. Read his blog, "On Movies Online," at http://go.philly.com/onmovies.

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