The Love Guru

Both frantic and tedious, The Love Guru piles on the slapdash offenses.

The Love Guru

Director: Marco Schnabel
Cast: Mike Myers, Jessica Alba, Justin Timberlake, Romany Malco, Verne Troyer, Meagan Good, Manu Narayan, Ben Kingsley
MPAA rating: PG-13
Studio: Paramount Pictures
First date: 2008
UK Release Date: 2008-08-01 (General release)
US Release Date: 2008-06-20 (General release)

Both frantic and tedious, Mike Meyers' seeming satire of self-helping celebritude mostly repeats bits and concepts from Austin Powers. This time the designated fish out of water is not an international man of mystery, but a white guy raised to be a guru. Again, he's surrounded by folks who take his social retardation as signs of enlightenment. Again, he milks a panoply of bad jokes for too long and too often. And again, he's in love with his own broad mugging, believing with all his being that whatever he does is hilarious.

The Love Guru's similarity to Austin Powers is underscored by the inclusion of Verne Troyer as occasion for ongoing midget humor. Now, as Coach Cherkov, Troyer actually speaks, though mostly to set up Meyers' own jokes, which, as you might guess from the coach's name, have to do with sexual acts, bodily functions, and penises. Reportedly inspired by Meyers' personal search for spiritual guidance following his father's death, the dizzily self-obsessed Guru Pitka yearns to be "on Oprah," and so become the "next Deepak Chopra" (neither of these celebrities wins points for showing up in feeble self-mockeries). Pitka's seeming ticket to stardom is a star on the Toronto Maple Leafs, Darren Roanoke (Romany Malco), currently unable to score because he's been traumatized by the loss of his vavoomy wife Prudence (Meaghan Good) to rival goalie Jacque “Le Coq” Grande (Justin Timberlake). If he can save the marriage (and so help Toronto win "Stanley's Cup"), Pitka will get the invite he so covets, and so sell enough of his self-help books to surpass Chopra on the best-seller list.

As life goals (or movie premises) go, this is deeply lackluster. To expand the insult to feature running time, The Love Guru piles on the slapdash offenses. A few flashbacks indicate his indoctrination into guruness, with Ben Kingsley as his cross-eyed mentor Guru Tugginmypuddha. Here Pitka’s gross whiteness is emphasized by the awkward imposition of Meyers’ own freckled face atop a child’s body, as he states his reason for studying at the ashram: he wants to meet girls. Aptly astonished at the boy's impertinence and ignorance, the elder Guru slaps a chastity belt on him, thus setting up for repeated noise gags as the adult Pitka's erection clangs against its metal confines.

The most frequent inspiration for this bit is Jane (Jessica Alba), pretty-pouty owner of the Maple Leafs. Believing that bringing in the Love Guru is the right way to solve the puzzle of her star player, Jane arrives at his Los Angeles ashram in person, with Cherkov in tow. Here she observes his help-the-celebrities ritual, whereby everyone stands in waiting to obtain wisdom and peace, ostensibly compressed into the mantra "Mariska Hargitay" (recipients include desperate erstwhile stars like Jessica Simpson, Val Kilmer, and yes, Mariska Hargitay). Jane is inexplicably impressed, confessing her "schoolgirl crush" on Pitka, and so the running clanging gag is initiated. (In the film's single sweet moment, Pitka observes Jane performing in a big fat Bollywood number -- one of several such distractions -- and gushes, "You are as cute as pie!" In fact, she is.)

In an entirely other plot, Pitka counsels Darren through his patented recovery "steps." The player's designation as the "Tiger Woods of hockey" notes the oddity of his blackness in the league, but the movie goes further (of course), with relentless measurings of penises (Grande's padded Speedo and a few sound effects ensure you understand the basis of his name and, apparently, Prudence's interest). In the how-offensive-can-it-be? run-off that comprises the movie, this black-white competition is hardly as large as the heap of guru-Hindu-elephant jokes. But it does remind you, not that you need reminding, of The Love Guru's dearth of intelligent or even basic humor. Offered a corn dog at a hockey game, Pitka can't help himself: "Is this a dog's tingly!"

Amid the countless "dick," "nut-sack," and "prick" jokes (several delivered by Stephen Colbert's drug-addled rink-side commentator), the Darren problem is reduced (through the step called "regression") to his domineering, gospel-singing mother (Telma Hopkins). You won't care whether he works out his anxieties or if Prudence returns or even if he makes the last crucial score in the last crucial seconds of the last game. For all its efforts to offend everyone it can think of, The Love Guru is awfully short on originality, direction, and point. It is, in a word, disjointed.






PM Picks Playlist 1: Rett Madison, Folk Devils + More

The first PopMatters Picks Playlist column features searing Americana from Rett Madison, synthpop from Everything and Everybody, the stunning electropop of Jodie Nicholson, the return of post-punk's Folk Devils, and the glammy pop of Baby FuzZ.


David Lazar's 'Celeste Holm  Syndrome' Appreciates Hollywood's Unsung Character Actors

David Lazar's Celeste Holm Syndrome documents how character actor work is about scene-defining, not scene-stealing.


David Lord Salutes Collaborators With "Cloud Ear" (premiere)

David Lord teams with Jeff Parker (Tortoise) and Chad Taylor (Chicago Underground) for a new collection of sweeping, frequently meditative compositions. The results are jazz for a still-distant future that's still rooted in tradition.


Laraaji Takes a "Quiet Journey" (premiere +interview)

Afro Transcendentalist Laraaji prepares his second album of 2020, the meditative Moon Piano, recorded inside a Brooklyn church. The record is an example of what the artist refers to as "pulling music from the sky".


Blues' Johnny Ray Daniels Sings About "Somewhere to Lay My Head" (premiere)

Johnny Ray Daniels' "Somewhere to Lay My Head" is from new compilation that's a companion to a book detailing the work of artist/musician/folklorist Freeman Vines. Vines chronicles racism and injustice via his work.


The Band of Heathens Find That Life Keeps Getting 'Stranger'

The tracks on the Band of Heathens' Stranger are mostly fun, even when on serious topics, because what other choice is there? We all may have different ideas on how to deal with problems, but we are all in this together.


Landowner's 'Consultant' Is OCD-Post-Punk With Obsessive Precision

Landowner's Consultant has all the energy of a punk-rock record but none of the distorted power chords.


NYFF: 'American Utopia' Sets a Glorious Tone for Our Difficult Times

Spike Lee's crisp concert film of David Byrne's Broadway show, American Utopia, embraces the hopes and anxieties of the present moment.


South Africa's Phelimuncasi Thrill with Their Gqom Beats on '2013-2019'

A new Phelimuncasi anthology from Nyege Nyege Tapes introduces listeners to gqom and the dancefloors of Durban, South Africa.


Wolf Parade's 'Apologies to the Queen Mary' Turns 15

Wolf Parade's debut, Apologies to the Queen Mary, is an indie rock classic. It's a testament to how creative, vital, and exciting the indie rock scene felt in the 2000s.


What 'O Brother, Where Art Thou?' Gets Right (and Wrong) About America

Telling the tale of the cyclops through the lens of high and low culture, in O'Brother, Where Art Thou? the Coens hammer home a fatalistic criticism about the ways that commerce, violence, and cosmetic Christianity prevail in American society .


Literary Scholar Andrew H. Miller On Solitude As a Common Bond

Andrew H. Miller's On Not Being Someone Else considers how contemplating other possibilities for one's life is a way of creating meaning in the life one leads.


Fransancisco's "This Woman's Work" Cover Is Inspired By Heartache (premiere)

Indie-folk brothers Fransancisco dedicate their take on Kate Bush's "This Woman's Work" to all mothers who have lost a child.


Rodd Rathjen Discusses 'Buoyancy', His Film About Modern Slavery

Rodd Rathjen's directorial feature debut, Buoyancy, seeks to give a voice to the voiceless men and boys who are victims of slavery in Southeast Asia.


Hear the New, Classic Pop of the Parson Red Heads' "Turn Around" (premiere)

The Parson Red Heads' "Turn Around" is a pop tune, but pop as heard through ears more attuned to AM radio's glory days rather than streaming playlists and studio trickery.


Blitzen Trapper on the Afterlife, Schizophrenia, Civil Unrest and Our Place in the Cosmos

Influenced by the Tibetan Book of the Dead, Blitzen Trapper's new album Holy Smokes, Future Jokes plumbs the comedic horror of the human condition.


Chris Smither's "What I Do" Is an Honest Response to Old Questions (premiere + interview)

How does Chris Smither play guitar that way? What impact does New Orleans have on his music? He might not be able to answer those questions directly but he can sure write a song about it.

Love in the Time of Coronavirus

Fire in the Time of Coronavirus

If we venture out our front door we might inhale both a deadly virus and pinpoint flakes of ash. If we turn back in fear we may no longer have a door behind us.

Collapse Expand Reviews

Collapse Expand Features

PM Picks
Collapse Expand Pm Picks

© 1999-2020 All rights reserved.
PopMatters is wholly independent, women-owned and operated.