For Your Consideration: The Love Guru
Cast: Mike Myers, Jessica Alba, Justin Timberlake, Verne Troyer, Romany Malco
Director: Marco Schnabel
Writer: Mike Myers, Graham Gordy
Estimated Budget: $62 million
U.S. Gross: $32 million
Hello and welcome to the rebooted version of The Citizen Kane of Awful! In search of the nirvana of sarcastic film criticism I’ve updated the feature’s format to cover three categories: The Good, The Bad and The Awful. So I’ll no longer be writing a minute-by-minute commentary, but I’ll still be searching for the gems of hilarity found amongst the crap and taking films to task for their more embarrassing faults.
After receiving 60% of the previous vote, this week’s film is The Love Guru! Guru Pitka (Myers) grew up with two goals: to have sex, and to oust Deepak Chopra as the world’s number one self-help guru. Upon returning to his American birthplace he is tasked with helping star hockey player Darren Roanoake (Malco) win back his wife (Meagan Good), from rival athlete Jacques “Le Coq” Grande (Timberlake). Coach Jane Bullard (Alba) hopes this will revitalise the team and lead them to Stanley Cup victory, but Guru Pitka has his own romantic hopes as he grows closer to her along the way.
Really? Morgan Freeman lowered himself to appear in The Love Guru? Well no. He didn’t even lend them his voice. This was a great opening gag though, with the kind of attention to detail and inventiveness that the rest of the film is sorely lacking.
The writing. No, seriously
I’ll admit it – I’m a big fan of Mike Myers’ Austin Powers trilogy, but then I’ll also admit that it’s been about ten years since I’ve seen any of them in full. In general The Love Guru has a threadbare plot and mediocre jokes, but there’s the odd zinger that can’t help but resonate, no matter how much you don’t want to laugh.
There’s one moment where Pitka tries to change the radio in Darren’s car and he quips: “This ain’t Driving Miss Daisy man, I’ll break your fingers.” Then another with the irresistible Christmas cracker line: “Bring me the alligator soup and make it snappy”. My favourite though, is the simple fact that Pitka refers to the Stanley Cup as Stanley’s Cup.
Say hello to the only other source of laughs in this film. Some of Colbert’s improvised lines fall flat, but there are a couple of great scenes as well, most notably the above clip from his final drug-induced breakdown.
The endless forest of bad dick jokes
I’d estimate that about 80% of the jokes in this film involve the human penis in some way. Plus another 5% for elephants. Nearly all of them are terrible. Things are bad straight off the bat with this effort. I mean, where’s the actual punchline in this ‘joke’?
“Intimacy is like putting your penis on the table and someone saying “that is like a wiener, but smaller””
Pitka’s manager (played by John Oliver!) is called Richard Pants. AKA Dick Pants. Ha. Ha. Ha. Verne Troyer as the hockey coach is called Coach Cherkov. Just about the only passable dick joke in the film belongs to Justin Timberlake in the above GIF.
Sitar covers of pop songs
One of the highlights of the Austin Powers series was the many musical interludes, notably the classic “Daddy Wasn’t There” from Goldmember and “Just the Two of Us” from The Spy Who Shagged Me. Nothing in The Love Guru touches that level of hilarity, but the sitar-led version of Dolly Parton’s “9 to 5” isn’t far off. The accompanying montage is embarrassing and sexist with its cast of scantily clad women, but the sheer novelty impact of hearing “9 to 5” on sitar wins through to earn it a “so bad it’s good” rating.
Celebrities: why do you do this to yourselves?
There are celebrity cameos in The Love Guru from the inexplicable trio of Jessica Simpson, Val Kilmer and…Kanye West?! Why Kanye? This was made in 2008 when you were pretty successful and famous by anyone’s standards. Just…why?
Justin Timberlake’s performance
It’s embarrassing. It’s terrible. It’s hilarious. By any objective standard of acting, Timberlake’s performance is an abomination, yet he can’t help but entertain. Oh Justin, you snake-hipped charmer you.
The CGI. Oh God, the CGI!
You may have noticed that Mike Myers is a very white Canadian playing an Indian guru. That may seem a tad racist to you, but don’t worry, it’s fine. You see Guru Pitka was born in America but spent most of his youth in India, so there’s nothing to get offended about here.
Anyone else not buying that? The briefest peck of lip service is paid to Pitka’s origins in the film and for the most part Myers struts around as a thoughtless caricature. I imagine the brainstorming session for that character resulted in a few arrows on a whiteboard pointing to the words elephant, sitar and Bollywood. Plus, whenever he can’t be bothered any more, Myers’ accent just disappears into thin air.
It’s laughing at, not with, Verne Troyer
There’s a difference between jokes playing on the fact Verne Troyer is a dwarf and jokes laughing at him for being a dwarf. This is mostly the latter. For example when Pitka first sees him he spins around in fright and makes the usual jokes about “big words for a small man”.
The only occasion one of these jokes works is in the tiny office seen above. Generally the film’s attitude to Troyer is condescending and offensive, but this joke works thanks to the simple absurdity of people holding a meeting in a tiny office, not because it’s mocking Troyer.
The Love Guru is not a good film, but its crimes aren’t too heinous either. Mike Myers carries the film and although his character is often unfunny and offensive, somehow he’s still charming on screen. Timberlake and Colbert also provide laughs, some more intentional than others. So, The Love Guru just about qualifies as “So bad it’s good”, following in the footsteps of previous golden turkey The Avengers (1998).
Star Rating: 1/5
Kane Rating: 4/5
Next time I will either be watching Iron Sky, featuring fugitive Nazis launching a new world war from the dark side of the moon, or Osombie, featuring a zombie Osama bin Laden and his army of zombie terrorists.