The Love Guru

George Kraychyk/Paramount Pictures
Marco Schnabel/United States 2008

Against my better judgment, against my hardened presumptions going in, against all that is right and holy and decent in the universe, I have to admit that I … ahem … actually liked The Love Guru.

Mikes Myers, stealing a page from the infinitely funnier Peter Sellers, returns for his first live-action film in five years as the self-help Guru Pitka. An American boy abandoned at the gates of an Indian ashram and taken in by the benevolent Guru Tugginmypudha (Ben Kingsley), Pitka learns the spiritual lessons of his adopted homeland and returns to the United States to become the second most popular authority on spirituality and self-help.

Meanwhile, the Toronto Maple Leaf’s star player Darren Roanoke (Romany Malco) is falling apart. On the eve of the Stanley Cup finals against the L.A. Kings, his estranged wife (Meagan Good) has begun dating the Kings’ star goalie, Jacques Grande (a hilarious Justin Timberlake). With Darren unable to focus on the ice and the Stanley Cup in the balance, the Maple Leaf’s diminutive Coach Cherkov (Verne “Mini-Me” Troyer) and team owner Jane Bullard (Jessica Alba) enlist the help of the world’s best-known relationship expert in doing what he does best, unknotting the romantic entanglements of troubled couples. Now, if they can only survive Pitka’s decidedly unorthodox approach.

Myer’s Pitka is basically just Austin Powers with a beard and a different accent. Half of the jokes in The Love Guru are the sort told by elementary school children on the playground. The other half come straight from the walls of the bathroom stalls where they were found.

The Love Guru revels in lowest-sexual-common-denominator comedy, the sort of humor that adolescent boys find so entertaining while everyone else stands around rolling their eyes, waiting for them to just grow up already! If you have a built-in quota of penis jokes that you can take in during one lifetime, The Love Guru may max you out.

The film is not without controversy. Many Indian groups have decried The Love Guru for desecrating their country and their religion. While they are in a far better place to make that charge than I, Myer’s Pitka is so silly and shallow that the energy used to attack the film may not be worth the effort. Myers seems more intent on poking fun at the self-help movement and its “televangelists” than insulting an entire nation. Still, he does paint with an admittedly broad brush and some may find the film’s cheap cultural and spiritual shots insulting.

For all its faults — and it has more than its fair share — The Love Guru nevertheless found my funnybone. It was infectious, no holds bared fun, reveling in the absurdity of its premise and unrepentant in its celebration of crassness.

Normally, this is precisely the sort of film I would loathe, skewer and hang out to dry. So why, after reciting a litany of its faults, did I actually like it? I have no clue whatsoever. I’m seeking medical attention.

© 2008 Brandon Fibbs. All rights reserved.

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