The Love Guru

The Love Guru


Reviewed by: Jennie Kermode

Meet Guru Pitka, spiritual counsellor and advisor to the stars. Pitka's dream is to become more famous than Deepak Chopra, but to do so he must appear on the Oprah Winfrey Show. His big break comes when he is asked to save a high profile ice-hockey player's marriage, but though he finds his feet very quickly in a strange country, making an impression on everyone he meets, there is one thing he finds himself unable to do, and that's to handle a romance of his own.

It's a slight story, but with strong performances and a clever script it might have worked quite well. Unfortunately, Mike Myers' latest vanity project has neither. He may be wearing strange clothes, he may have a comedy beard, and he may make jokes about flatulence and groinal injury at every opportunity, but that's about the limit of his range. As the woman who supposedly turns his world upside down, Jessica Alba is a nonentity, with nothing to do but smile vapidly and occasionally demonstrate how bad she is at Bollywood-style dancing. The rest of the performances might suffice for a TV movie but can do nothing to rescue this film.

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Despite what you may have heard, the film isn't nearly as offensive toward Hinduism as its premise might have allowed. Offensiveness would, after all, require some measure of deliberate action, and there's so little action here that watching it is like being in an hour-and-a-half long trance. It's mildly irreverent, unnecessarily patronising, but little more; it saves its principal digs for disabled people. Occasionally this almost works, as with the tiny office (for Myers' regular co-performer Verne Troyer) which mimics the one from Being John Malkovich, but for the most part Myers' attacks on political correctness fall flat because he's just being a dick, thus making it amply clear why certain attitudes are disapproved of. What he's most interested in showing up is the supposed reliance of many Hollywood stars on exotic gurus, but this manifests as an excuse to make lame digs at celebrities the world has largely forgotten about anyway, rather like waiting for George W Bush to grow old and die and then pointing and saying he's not very bright as if you've invented the joke. Doesn't Myers realise that, at this rate, he'll be on the C-list very soon himself?

There are moments of humour in this otherwise drab film, but too many of them rely on heavy-handed plot devices - like the elephant which just happens to be there when needed - or on references to other films. The brief snatch of Bohemian Rhapsody we hear on a car radio just reminds us how much better Wayne's World was. And despite its pretensions, The Love Guru just isn't Bohemian enough. Myers never seems to get into character. No-one seems to have loved the film enough to try and save it. It achieves a semblance of spiritual aspiration only in that it is utterly forgettable.

Reviewed on: 01 Aug 2008
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The Love Guru packshot
An Indian guru travels to North America to try and save an ice hockey player's marriage.
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Director: Marco Schnabel

Writer: Mike Myers, Graham Gordy

Starring: Mike Myers, Jessica Alba, Justin Timberlake, Romany Malco, Meagan Good, Ben Kingsley, Manu Narayan

Year: 2008

Runtime: 87 minutes

BBFC: 12A - Adult Supervision

Country: US


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