So here’s the thing: normally it takes Eddie Izzard, George Carlin, Damon Wayans or Bill Maher to get me to laugh out loud, and yet, the other evening, arriving at the cinema in not a good frame of mind at all, I actually found myself laughing through most of Mike Myers latest, The Love Guru.
I guess there was something – in the goofy juxtaposition of the Guru Pitka living in a marble
palace ashram twanging out that old Dolly Parton working class number “9 to 5“ on sitar as he goes through his morning ablutions,
or the PowerPoint presentation of trademarked self-help platitudes dispensed to the vacuous Left Coast faithful, or even some of the sight gags (Justin Timberlake’s Treasure Trail tattoos) – that pressed the right buttons and had me chortling in spite of myself.
The story on which these gags are built is this: an American kid is raised in an Indian ashram and becomes a guru in order to get girls. He becomes an expert in advising people on les affaires du coeur, but is still a constant runner-up to the man he considers his rival: Deepak Chopra. One of his handlers (John Oliver) tells him that if he can re-unite Darren Roanoke (Romany Malco) a Toronto Maple Leafs player whose estranged wife has taken up with the famous opposing team member Quebecois Jacques “Le Coq” Grande (Timberlake), thereby ending his troubles on the ice as well, Guru Pitka will get booked on Oprah, which he considers making it to The Big Time.
Along the way there are midget jokes, many, many, many jokes having to do with male genitalia, and quite a few having to do with bodily functions. Stephen Colbert, Verne Troyer and Sir Ben Kingsley are part of the cast, and Deepak Chopra even makes an appearance as himself.
Former Bollywood Dreams star, Manu Narayan, has a major role in the film as Rajneesh, Guru Pitka’s ever-present, ever-helpful assistant and moral compass. He has a sweet face and his real musical talents come into play when he performs a duet of “More Than Words” with Mike Myers.
There’s an early mise-en-scÃ¨ne where Pitka preaches to a rapt audience and is sought out afterward by Jessica Simpson, Val Kilmer and Mariska Hargitay (whose name he uses as a greeting in place of “Namaste”). Upon encountering Jane Bullard (Jessica Alba) the owner of the failing Toronto Maple Leafs, Guru Pitka is smitten and has a true filmi moment as his mind wanders off into a dream sequence, imagining himself frolicking with the lovely Ms. Alba in true old-eshtyle Bollywood song picturization mode, complete with bizarre onscreen lyric translations (e.g. there was something about “”¦lugubrious recalcitration..”) This is the first of two filmi scenes.
The main character is rather smug (in spite of his DeepakChoprian Achilles heel) and annoying, but then again, my hackles go up when anyone tries to preach at me, and I smiled at his early comment about “”¦when the student becomes the teacher, or some such bullsh!t.” Pitka sports a hrishi-like hair-do in one scene, and Indian clothes and accessories throughout, but what Myers is sending up is not Hinduism, but rather the scores of people who blindly buy into these “neo-Eastern” wealthy, self-help, self-important con men.
See it or skip it?
It’s got a lot of cheery colors, moves at a quick clip, has lots of gross-out humor and a LOT of Mike Myers. If you don’t object of any of that, and you’re in the mood for a light, silly movie, you might enjoy The Love Guru.
Not everything was fair game for my funnybone. I could have done without the wee-soaked mops hitting people in the face, and the two poor elephants copulating on the ice at a hockey championship.