"The Love Guru" (PG-13)
Half a star out of four
As a comedic subject, Eastern mysticism and New Age gobbledygook are as broad targets as one could imagine. The self-important seriousness of both is simply ripe for merciless lampooning. In the hands of guys such as Christopher Guest, Judd Apatow or even Jim Carrey, it could be molded into hilarious, intelligent irreverence. However, in the hands of Mike Myers, it runs through his fumbling fingers and dissipates into the wind like so many grains of fine sand.
If written as a six-minute skit for "Saturday Night Live, "The Love Guru" might have been a tad amusing, but Myers simply beats everything into the ground and then some. He and co-writer Graham Gordy toss out halfway decent puns, acronyms and sexual double entendres but instead of giving the audience the chance to soak them in, they quickly explain and repeat them. It's the exact opposite of the deadpan, dry approach Myers used in the first "Austin Powers," one of his only two good comedies (the first "Wayne's World" being the other).
With a heavily padded, bulbous nose and ZZ Top beard, Myers plays Pitka, a Hollywood-based American guru raised in India whose principal ambition in life is to replace Deepak Chopra as the world's most famous self-helper and to land a guest spot on the Oprah Winfrey Show.
Pitka gets his shot when Jane (Jessica Alba), the frustrated and desperate owner of the Toronto Maple Leafs hockey team, hires him to repair the psyche of her star player Darren (Romany Malco, "Baby Mama"). Darren has lingering "mommy issues" and his wife Prudence (Meagan Good) has just left him for rival player Jacques Grande (Justin Timberlake). If Darren can't get it together soon, the Leafs will take a powder in the Stanley Cup championship.
Nothing about the movie is remotely subtle. Verne "Mini-Me" Troyer, Myers' "Austin Powers" sidekick, is the butt of endless midget jabs and is tossed about like a throwaway prop. Myers covers American Rock standards and gives them cringe-inducing song-and-dance "Bollywood" makeovers. In what is becoming her standard role, Alba plays the vacant, eye-candy love interest. The once class-act Ben Kingsley is reduced to an embarrassing, perpetually cross-eyed Hindu master.
All of it is laced with the screenwriters' eighth-grade level bathroom/bodily function humor involving not only humans, but also (paint a mental picture) elephants. Word is on the street that several Hindu/Indian groups are unhappy with the way they are depicted in the movie. They do have a case, but they'll have to get in line. Every race, creed and gender of humanity will have some type of gripe with this film.
The only part of the movie that gets close to being clever or genuinely funny are the half-dozen scenes featuring Stephen Colbert as a sportscaster who hasn't quite gotten over his substance-abuse problem. It wouldn't be going out on a limb to throw out the theory that Colbert improvised his entire performance; Myers the writer is incapable of being this razor sharp.
Luckily for Myers, he's got yet another lucrative "Shrek" voiceover gig on his plate, which is good because "The Love Guru" is almost certain to die a quick box office death this weekend. Myers' live-action career isn't completely over yet. He's going to be jumping into the deep end of the acting pool by playing the lead in a remake of "The Secret Life of Walter Mitty" and another about Rock legend Keith Moon in a dramatic bio-pic. A note to fellow fans of Danny Kaye and The Who: be worried. Be VERY worried. (Paramount)