Reviews

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)
Website

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.

1

From genre-busting electronic music to new highs in the ever-evolving R&B scene, from hip-hop and Americana to rock and pop, 2017's music scenes bestowed an embarrassment of riches upon us.


60. White Hills - Stop Mute Defeat (Thrill Jockey)

White Hills epic '80s callback Stop Mute Defeat is a determined march against encroaching imperial darkness; their eyes boring into the shadows for danger but they're aware that blinding lights can kill and distort truth. From "Overlord's" dark stomp casting nets for totalitarian warnings to "Attack Mode", which roars in with the tribal certainty that we can survive the madness if we keep our wits, the record is a true and timely win for Dave W. and Ego Sensation. Martin Bisi and the poster band's mysterious but relevant cool make a great team and deliver one of their least psych yet most mind destroying records to date. Much like the first time you heard Joy Division or early Pigface, for example, you'll experience being startled at first before becoming addicted to the band's unique microcosm of dystopia that is simultaneously corrupting and seducing your ears. - Morgan Y. Evans

Keep reading... Show less
Music

The Best Country Music of 2017

still from Midland "Drinkin' Problem" video

There are many fine country musicians making music that is relevant and affecting in these troubled times. Here are ten of our favorites.

Year to year, country music as a genre sometimes seems to roll on without paying that much attention to what's going on in the world (with the exception of bro-country singers trying to adopt the latest hip-hop slang). That can feel like a problem in a year when 58 people are killed and 546 are injured by gun violence at a country-music concert – a public-relations issue for a genre that sees many of its stars outright celebrating the NRA. Then again, these days mainstream country stars don't seem to do all that well when they try to pivot quickly to comment on current events – take Keith Urban's muddled-at-best 2017 single "Female", as but one easy example.

Keep reading... Show less

Scholar Judith May Fathallah's work blurs lines between author and ethnographer, fan experiences and genre TV storytelling.

In Fanfiction and the Author: How Fanfic Changes Popular Culture Texts, author Judith May Fathallah investigates the progressive intersections between popular culture and fan studies, expanding scholarly discourse concerning how contemporary blurred lines between texts and audiences result in evolving mediated practices.

Keep reading... Show less
8

Burt Lancaster not only stars in The Kentuckian (1955) but directed and produced it for the company he co-founded with Ben Hecht. The result is an exciting piece of Americana accoutred in all sorts of he-man folderol, as shot right handsomely in Technicolor by Ernest Laszlo and scored by Bernard Herrmann with lusty horns to echo the source novel, Felix Holt's The Gabriel Horn.

Keep reading... Show less
7

Which is the draw, the art or the artist? Critic Rachel Corbett examines the intertwined lives of two artists of two different generations and nationalities who worked in two starkly different media.

Artist biographies written for a popular audience necessarily involve compromise. On the one hand, we are only interested in the lives of artists because we are intrigued, engaged, and moved by their work. The confrontation with a work of art is an uncanny experience. We are drawn to, enraptured and entranced by, absorbed in the contemplation of an object. Even the performative arts (music, theater, dance) have an objective quality to them. In watching a play, we are not simply watching people do things; we are attending to the play as a thing that is more than the collection of actions performed. The play seems to have an existence beyond the human endeavor that instantiates it. It is simultaneously more and less than human: more because it's superordinate to human action and less because it's a mere object, lacking the evident subjectivity we prize in the human being.

Keep reading... Show less
3
Pop Ten
Mixed Media
PM Picks

© 1999-2017 Popmatters.com. All rights reserved.
Popmatters is wholly independently owned and operated.

rating-image