The Love Guru

Director: Marco Schnabel
Starring: Mike Meyers, Jessical Alba, Romany Malco, Justin Timberlake, Verne Troyer
Rating: 1.5 stars (out of five)

Can we just hold a funeral for Mike Meyers’ creative potential, and then all get really drunk at the wake?

In The Love Guru, Meyers taps every source of humor he knows, the same ones on display (but mixed with more genuine wit) in that exercise in diminishing returns, the Austin Powers series. Primarily, the source of humor is the human body, as he jokes about, and puts onscreen, snot, piss, shit and blood. What, no semen? Is that for the PG-13 rating, or because it’s too There’s Something About Mary? You know which bodily fluid did not go into the making of this movie? Perspiration. Nobody broke a sweat making this flaccid compilation of pre-adolescent humor, least of all Myers himself. Watching Myers play his pop-enlightenment spiritualist, Guru Pitka, as a horny, mischievous boy given to off-color asides and spontaneous music videos, we half expect he’ll whip off the fake beard and reveal that he’s been Austin Powers, under cover for the Secret Service, all along. Yeah, baby.

The story: Pitka is an American trained from childhood in Indian philosophy, frustrated that his childhood rival, Deepak Chokra, is the Number One bullshit pop-psych guru in the world. In a bid to take the number one position (via a booking on Oprah), he sets out to cure the romance problems plaguing the star player of the Toronto Maple Leafs—problems about to cost that team its Stanley Cup bid. In the meantime, his impish horniness and extreme physical unattractiveness somehow cause the owner of the Leafs, Jessica Alba, to fall in love with him. Hilarity does not ensue, and continues not ensuing until eight-five minutes or so have laboriously ticked by, and then the movie solves its problems with a few unconvincing lines of dialogue and goes home.

The cast is a mix of solid straight men and sendup characters as outsized as Meyers’ Pitka. Romany Malco and Jessica Alba play their parts straight, and are both very engaging to watch. Verne Troyer plays things as straight as he can, given that his diminutive size is often the joke where he’s concerned. The photo here with the cast all stuffed into a perfectly Troyer-sized office is pretty much the best gag there. Justin Timberlake, on the other hand, is rival hockey star Jacque “Le Coq” Grande (whose dick is really, really big! Funny!), played as energetically over-the-top, and as tiringly, as Meyers plays his part. Alba is surprising, because she can be very wooden in her performances, but here seems unbelievable only as the script requires, and one of the few unalloyed bits of fun in the film is when she’s drawn into a Bollywood-style music video with Myers. She seems to be genuinely having an absolute blast in the scenes, marking the only time anyone in the film or the audience experiences joy.

This film needed a tighter story, more care about character, and a more intelligent sendup of self-help gurus than the superficial needling Myers provides. More thoughtful, genuine humor and fewer poopy-pants jokes and zany music video routines, in other words. Instead, The Love Guru is a lazy piece of fluff obsessed with pre-teen boys’ concerns about bodily functions, and older male fears about penis size (recall Austin Powers’ perennial penis pump). It thinks giving characters names that sound dirty if you say them fast is funny. Time after time. The movie is not without charm: Myers doing his little singalongs is endearing. It’s just, it’s the same old charm, again and again, and it has worn much too thin. There’s nothing here you haven’t seen, and if you can imagine how much you would probably have enjoyed, say, a seventh Austin Powers movie, you’ll know how much entertainment this flick offers you.

In the interest of fairness, however, this jaded 39-year-old writer must give space to the comment of the ten-year-old boy who sat one row up in the screening and declared, as the audience rose to make its escape, that it was the “best movie ever!” So your mileage, as I’m so fond of uselessly pointing out, may vary.