The Love Guru
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The Love Guru

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Since 1975 one of the best sources of new comic talent has been Saturday Night Live. Over the course of its incredibly long run star like Adam Sandler, Eddie Murphy and Mike Myers have come from this late night TV sketch series. Of course with such a long run the show has had more than its share of ups and downs. At its best SNL has provided some of the greatest comedy seen on television. The flip side has been entire episodes, some may argue seasons, where there is barely a chuckle to be found. It was only natural that some of the stars of the show made the translation to the big screen. Like the seasons of the series these new stars have had some hits and some flicks that, shall we say, bombed terrible. Usually the reason is simple. Something that is hysterical for a five minute skit just doesn’t have enough comic chops to make it as a full length movie. the saddest scenario here is when a truly brilliant comedian goes over to film and makes a bunch of hits and then seems to hit a creative wall. This is the case with the aforementioned Mike Myers. He hit it really big with the two ‘Wayne’s World’ flicks. This was followed up with the ‘Austin Powers’ spy flick satires. Well, at least two of the three were funny. There is little doubt that Myers is a comic genius but even Thomas Edison had a few bad ideas every so often. A case study for this phenomena is the movie under consideration here ‘The Love Guru’. Needless to say it is not a shining example of what this man is capable of doing. This is a silly, juvenile flick that has a few to many jokes involving male genitalia and various expressions of body functions best not performed in public. Still, there is a place for a foolish bit of fluff in our hectic world. This movie might be just the thing when you have some friends over for beer and pizza some lazy Saturday evening. Thinking about this a bit make sure you have plenty of beer to go around during the screening.

The movie was written by Myers and Graham Gordy. Gordy only has one other script to his credit, a drama. Most of the story, at least what there is of one, is obviously from the mind of Myers. He is fantastic at creating strange characters and bringing them to life. The thing here is the titular character is better suited to a recurring skit instead of a full length film. The initial joke wears off long before the closing credits and much of the humor is just a variation of the same theme. Basically Myers plays Guru Maurice Pitka, the second most famous guru, after Deepak Chopra. When the star player of the Toronto Maple Leafs, Darren Roanoke (Romany Malco) begins to falter just before the Stanley Cup the owner of the team, Jane Bullard (Jessica Alba) hires Pitka to get his game back. This plot line also demonstrates a love that Myers has for Hockey, a natural for a native born Canadian. The screenplay is full of jokes that push right up to the limits of good taste and boldly goes over that line. Most of the jokes are repetitive and while funny at first soon become increasingly annoying. Okay, the one concerning the name of Mariska Hargitay has a bit more staying power and is accentuated by a cameo by the actress. In fact this movie seems to have an inordinate number of well known guest appearances. Many of the jokes are on the level of grade school humor. One example concerns an Uncle Jack being helped off an elephant. I don’t have to be explicit here; if you think back to sixth grade you’ve heard the joke before. It appears here that Myers was channeling his inner child while writing this script.

The director of this flick is Marco Schnabel. He wrote the screenplays for two of the continuing series of made for cable movies, ‘The Librarian’. He also worked in production for all three of the ‘Austin Powers’ movies. This is his first time out as a director so please cut him some slack. The style here is reasonably well done. One good thing about his direction is he never takes the project too seriously. He takes it for what it is; a light, silly fluff piece. Schnabel keeps the flick moving along at a good clip so that even if there is a lull in the humor the movie doesn’t have completely dead spots. Schnabel manages to get the most out of a cast that deserves better than this. How they got an actor like Sir Ben Kensley to play a cross eyed mentor is beyond belief but as the consummate actor he is Sir Ben gives it his all. Justin Timberlake also gives a surprisingly good performance here. As a pop music sensation he is wisely going for smaller off beat roles instead of prematurely trying to carry a whole film on his own. Alba is a beautiful young woman and she actually has a great scene of comic timing but here her looks are what is showcased.

Darren Roanoke (Romany Malco), the star player of the Toronto Maple Leafs and lately he has been more than a little off his game. His wife Prudence (Meagan Good) had an affair with teammate Jacques "Le Coq" Grandé (Justin Timberlake). The all important Stanley Cup is upon the team and the owner Bullard (Alba) is extremely concerned. Bullard learns about a man called the Love Guru who wants nothing more to exceed his friend Deepak Chopra in notoriety. He feels that if he takes on this assignment and turns the Hockey player around he will be one spot on Oprah away from his goal. He tries out his strange form of Eastern based self help to try to get Roanoke back in fit form. What follow is an endless stream of guest stars culled from the pop stars in the peak of their fifteen minutes of fame. Much of this is a satire of pop self help books but even this is some decade or so too late to be relevant. What might have worked here was to concentrate more on the dichotomy between the Guru’s supposed ascetic life and his overwhelming desire to be famous. In any case the humor here is not up to the potential of the people involved in the film.

Paramount does do a great job of presenting the film to DVD. The audio and video are excellent and there are even a good number of extras. There are 11 deleted scenes if you really need to see things that were not considered good enough to make the final cut. I do have to admit I laughed at the blooper reel. It does seem that the cast had a great deal of fun making the flick. There are three featurettes that detail ever aspect of the production for those that really have to know. You can get a version of the film that comes complete with a separate digital copy disc. With this you put the film on your computer and transfer to any media device.

Posted 08/26/08

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