Directed by Marco Schnabel
Aspect Ratio: 2.40:1 anamorphic
Running Time: 86 minutes
Audio: Dolby Digital 5.1 English, French, Spanish
Subtitles: English, French, Spanish
MSRP: $ 36.99
Release Date: September 16, 2008
Review Date: September 11, 2008
Mike Myers said in some pre-release publicity interviews that he had been working on the guru character of Pitka in comedy clubs for quite a few years. Put in the kindest possible language, he needed to continue working on it. The Love Guru is lame, desperate comedy of the lowest order. If Myers had any hopes of this becoming his next franchise creation (after Wayne’s World and Austin Powers), those hopes must have been dashed with the film’s disappointing reception. The public was right with this one, however. There is nothing here worth salvaging.
Guru Pitka is tired of being the second best known guru in the world (after Deepak Chopra). In order to increase his worldwide recognition and get that highly coveted invitation to appear on Oprah as well as two million dollars, he embarks on restoring faith and confidence to the once leading hockey player on the Toronto Maple Leafs, Darren Roanoke (Romany Malco). Darren’s wife Prudence (Meagan Good) had recently left him to begin an affair with Darren’s arch rival on the Los Angeles Kings team, Jacques Grande (Justin Timberlake), and Pitka has his work cut out for him if he’s to get Darren ready for the Stanley Cup.
A sure sign of desperation for any slapstick comedy is how much of the humor is connected to genitalia jokes. The Love Guru’s script would be about two pages long without them. Handfuls of character names go there: Jacques’ nickname is “Le Coq,” Ben Kingsley’s senior guru mentor is named Tugginmypudha. Darren’s agent (played by John Oliver) is Dick Pants. Verne Troyer’s Toronto head coach is called Coach Punch Cherkov. And that’s just the names. There are lots of kicks and punches to the groin, Stephen Colbert as a TV sports commentator draws genitalia in explaining a play, and even the intriguing spectacle of elephants fornicating in the middle of a hockey rink is saved for one of the climactic moments in the show. Myers and co-writer Graham Gordy seem to be preoccupied with that at the expense of other, wittier facets of humor. But humor and wit are in shockingly short supply in this absurd mishmash.
Not that they don’t try other gags. There’s an unfunny running gag with various books that Pitka has written which he whips out at a moment’s notice. “Mariska Hargitay” is the guru’s blessed greeting when meeting people, so imagine his surprise when the actual actress arrives for a session (among other silly cameos: Jessica Simpson, Val Kilmer, Mike Myers, Kayne West, even Deepak Chopra himself). There is also a ridiculous series of trademarked acronyms which spell one (sexually loaded) thing in initials and something else again in the words the letters represent. There are even a couple of Bollywood-style musical numbers tossed in for no reason other than the movie is a hodgepodge of low comedy anyway, so why not try some music? (Pitka’s opening song is his own rendition of Dolly Parton’s “9 to 5” played on a sitar.)
One feels a bit sorry for Myers halfway through the film when it’s obvious his character snickers at his own jokes on-screen after he says them (likely the only one snickering), but the character which might have been a pleasant joke for a five-minute Saturday Night Live skit just isn’t weighty enough to carry a feature length film, even one of this short duration. Jessica Alba as Myers’ rudimentary love interest looks beautiful, but she has very little to do. Hats off to Justin Timberlake for throwing himself full force into his absurd part with a gruesomely bad French-Canadian accent and a look stolen from the 1970s. Verne Troyer’s very presence means the script will be full to the brim with “little people” jokes, all of them in bad taste, but like everyone else trapped in this sad sack of a comedy, he seems to be a good sport about it. Even Oscar-winner Ben Kingsley goes through the entire movie with his eyes crossed in a feeble attempt to wring comedy from nothing.
The 2.40:1 theatrical aspect ratio is delivered in a beautifully colorful anamorphic transfer. Sharpness is very strong and flesh tones are very true to life, enough so that Myers’ Indian isn’t the least bit Indian looking. He doesn’t even have a good suntan. A tiny bit of smearing in the vibrant colors of the final Bollywood number is really the only small complaint with a transfer that’s otherwise quite striking. The film has been divided into 20 chapters.
The Dolby Digital 5.1 audio track is the usual front centric mix that most Hollywood comedies seem to sport. Music is about the only occupant of the rear channels, and the subwoofer can pretty much take the night off when this plays, apart from a momentary bit of crowd noise during the various hockey games.
All of the bonus features are presented in anamorphic widescreen.
“Mike Myers and The Love Guru - An Inside Look” is a 9 ½ minute overview of the film with director Marco Schnabel guiding us through (what he considers) the film’s high points.
“One Hellava Elephant” spends 5 ¾ minutes with the special effects designer and puppeteer of the elephant and ostrich marionettes used in the film.
“Hockey Training for Actors” features second unit director Mark Ellis discussing the work actors Romany Malco and Justin Timberlake put into making their hockey moves in the games for the film look realistic and effortless. This feature runs 8 minutes.
There are 11 deleted/extended scenes which can be watched individually or in one 13 ½ minute clump.
The film’s blooper reel runs 3 ¾ minutes.
“Back in the Booth with Trent and Jay” is 5 minutes of ad-libbing and improvisation featuring Stephen Colbert and Jim Gaffigan in their sports announcer personas.
There are 10 ¼ minutes of outtakes and other improvisations with Mike Myers and company.
The film’s theatrical trailer runs 2 ½ minutes.
The package includes a digital copy of the movie which can be uploaded onto PC or Mac format devices. There are instructions inside the package for correct installation.
The disc features previews of Eagle Eye, Iron Man, Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull, and Without a Paddle.
The Love Guru may please fans of the star or others looking for an undemanding, silly evening of entertainment. But this is not comedy worth defending. It aims low and often misses even that feeble target.