Sunday, October 14, 2012

How I Know I Am More Professional Than Joel Siegel:The Love Guru As Bad As You've Heard!

The Good: None, seriously, utterly unredeemable.
The Bad: Not funny, Terrible acting, Lack of character, Predictable plot, Just plain stupid!
The Basics: Mike Myers writes and "acts" in another disappointing comedy so juvenile as to astonish anyone with taste that it was made.

Every now and then, it behooves reviewers to remember the principles of our trade. There are several rules for being a professional reviewer and being treated as one, one of which is that we subject ourselves to the full experience of a film. I remember this point being driven home quite strongly when Clerks II (reviewed here!) was released. In a much-publicized event, film reviewer Joel Siegel walked out of the viewing, loudly muttering about the movie. Kevin Smith shot back on his website and most reviewers - even those who did not like Clerks II sided with Smith: a professional does not walk out of a film. I've often loathed reviewers who play the safe reviews, avoiding the little films, the teen-oriented horror flicks and the dumbest of inane comedies just to always have something positive to write. Growing up where I did, I quickly became disenchanted with the local movie reviewers, who played the odds that way, leaving a significant number of movies unreviewed.

So, I've returned from seeing the latest Mike Myers "comedy" flick, The Love Guru, and I am proud of myself for not walking out of the theater. It is such a bad film that I was tempted and that takes a lot, even for me. Yes, it is such a bad flick that I am updating my "Worst 10 Movies Of All Time.” But I sat through it.

Pitka is a guru who has lived in the shadow of Deepak Chopra and the Indian gurus he trained under as a child. Desiring nothing more than to appear on Oprah, Pitka arrives in the United States (he left as a child) to try to establish himself. When a hockey player's wife runs off with an opposing team's goalie, Pitka is asked to intervene. Trying to reconcile Prudence Roanoke with her Maple Leaf's husband, Darren, proves to be a bit of a task. Pitka tries not to disappoint Jane, the owner of the Maple Leaf's, but finds that convincing Prudence to leave Jacques Grande is easier said than done.

It quickly degenerates into a lot of one-liners that illustrate that Pitka's help is anything but and he speaks alternatively in cliches and graphic and explicit sexual remarks that drone on and on.

For a comedy, this movie falls terribly flat, so flat, in fact that it is worthwhile to note that I laughed a grand total of zero times while watching this movie. 88 minutes, zero laughs, that's not a good ratio for a comedy. Moreover, much of the movie resulted in me actually wincing. My physical reaction to the jokes was to wince and wonder why Mike Myers and Graham Gordy would admit to having written this.

The average joke - as written - involves simply infusing a sentence with the word "penis," equating love to sex and the implications that Pitka is completely at ease with everyone and everything. He displays no real wisdom in his role as a guru and The Love Guru falls flat because rather than satirize self-help "gurus," some of whom appear in the film, it simply has Mike Myers playing his parody of one. The thing is, established real-life self-help personalities like Deepak Chopra who appears prominently and recognizably in The Love Guru lowers himself by appearing beside Myers as Pitka.

There is no real character in The Love Guru; Pitka is a schtick, a one-trick pony that is familiar and is quickly played out. The broken couple is a cliche and there is no genuine sense of personality to either character. Indeed, far more than character or even personality or humor, what The Love Guru has is names. The jokes in The Love Guru are in the names of the characters. And as we all know, jokes get weakened with repetition. The names, then, start as jokes that might be amusing, but quickly get beaten into the ground because they are repeated.

As a result, the fundamental jokes of The Love Guru are: Punch Cherkov (the coach, played by perennial Myers sidekick Verne Troyer), Dick Pants, Tugginmypudha, and Satchabigknoba. If you've read those names and seen the trailer, you've gotten the full, rich experience that is The Love Guru. It is not a funny, witty or even remotely interesting movie and it is hard to overstate that.

Moreover, this film should well be the death of the few respectable actors who appear in it. Now, the thing is, viewers pretty much know what to expect from Mike Myers. Myers has some very specific affects and recurring jokes that he does in pretty much every feature he is in. The Love Guru is no exception. Myers bugs his eyes out frequently to emote. In fact, the effect which puts Myers's adult head on a very small body in the flashback sequences is pretty much defined by Myers opening his eyes super wide. He raises his eyebrow. He does that frequently for emphasis in The Love Guru; it does not make him appear any more wise. He repeats lines back to characters he is speaking to. He looks like he is about to laugh, especially when he repeats characters names that are clearly jokes. It's that kind of dumb movie and Myers plays all of the jokes and styles of jokes that made him popular was Wayne in Wayne's World and Austin Powers in those movies. We know Mike Myers and in The Love Guru, he is no less the Myers that we already know.

But Jim Gaffigan is a respectable comedian. Stephen Colbert is a great satirist (his deadpan is the definition of satirical!). They both appear in The Love Guru and one has to wonder why they participated in this drecht. But the coup for Myers and director Marco Schnabel is that Ben Kingsley appears in this movie. Yes, Ben Kingsley, who was amazing in Gandhi (reviewed here!), who helped make The House Of Sand And Fog (reviewed here!) so heartwrenching, is the butt of jokes as one of Pitka's fellow Gurus. And we just have to ask "WHY?!"

Kingsley's mere presence does not add anything to The Love Guru, neither does the presence of Jessica Alba or Justin Timberlake whose characters utilize and suffer Pitka's services, respectively. It's hard to figure out whose career might be hurt most by participating in this movie, but my money is on Kingsley; there are people who don't care what Deepak Chopra has to say, Alba's appeared in lemons before, no one has been banking on Timberlake ever getting a Best Actor nomination for anything (outside, possibly, an MTV Movie Award), and Mike Myers gives the same one-trick pony that he's been milking since his Saturday Night Live days. Kingsley is a respected actor and in this he is droll and poorly utilized.

On DVD, The Love Guru has a ton of deleted and extended scenes, none of which are funnier than the original feature. As well, there are three behind-the-scenes featurettes and a blooper reel. Still, it's not worth owning or even renting.

It is films like The Love Guru which force the viewer to acknowledge that some movies are just that bad. Again, zero laughs. None. Not one. But I didn't walk out. And tonight, it is worth noting that reviewers like me sit through movies like this so you don't have to. Eight bucks for a movie is too much to spend to walk out of a movie and those not bound by the ethical considerations of a reviewer would surely want nothing more than to do just that.

For other films featuring Mike Meyers, please check out my reviews of:
Shrek Forever After


Check out all the films that rated higher than this, by visiting my Movie Review Index Page where the reviews are organized from Best Film to Worst!

© 2012, 2008 W.L. Swarts. May not be reprinted without permission.

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