Mike Myers, the star-producer–co-writer of “The Love Guru,” should seriously consider sending a muffin basket to the makers of “Strange Wilderness,” because without that hideous, barely-released film, “Guru” would be the hands-down worst comedy of 2008 so far.
A movie endlessly amused with its own stupidity — to the point where Myers actually laughs at his own jokes, and shots of other characters breaking character to giggle are left in, as though this were a “Carol Burnett Show” sketch — “The Love Guru” is a soul-draining waste of 90-plus minutes.
Myers stars as Guru Pitka, an American raised in India who has become the world’s second-most-popular relationship guru behind Deepak Chopra. (Chopra’s name is cited more often here than all the designers in “Sex and the City” put together, so his “surprise” cameo in the film’s final minutes is anything but.) Hoping to raise his visibility by going on “Oprah,” Pitka takes on a high-profile assignment: Reunite hockey star Darren Roanoke (Romany Malco) with his wife Prudence (Meagan Good) in time for the Maple Leafs to win the Stanley Cup.
Doing so, however, will mean winning Prudence back from a rival goalie (Justin Timberlake) famed for his enormous endowment — in a sign of the film’s light comic touch, this character is named Jacques “Le Coq” Grandé. (Other knee-slapping supporting roles include “Dick Pants,” “Coach Cherkov,” and “Guru Tugginmypudha.” Laughing yet?)
Pitka tries everything to get Darren’s focus back, from forbidding him to fight during hockey games to forcing him to confront his emasculating mother (Telma Hopkins). Meanwhile, the guru pursues his own amorous intentions towards team owner Jane (Jessica Alba), despite the fact that he is forced to wear a chastity belt until he can learn to love himself.
It’s not that New Age-y philosophy and broad comedy are completely incompatible, but in the hands of Myers, “The Love Guru” is a failed stew made up of mugging, penis jokes, horrible puns, and feel-good mantras. Here’s just one example of how bludgeoning the film’s attempts at humor are: Young Pitka explains to his mentor (Ben Kingsley, crossing his eyes and camping it up madly) that he came to be in India because his parents were missionaries—before that, they were dog stylists. And just around the time that the audience gets the naughty double-entendre, Kingsley repeats the joke, underlining and italicizing every bit of wordplay so that it all lands with a thud.
“The Love Guru” represents the worst of self-help dogma on a grand scale — perhaps Myers thinks that if he finds himself funny, so will the rest of the world. If only.