The Love Guru
dir Marco Schnabel
scr Mike Myers, Graham Gordy
with Mike Myers, Jessica Alba, Romany Malco, Justin Timberlake, Meagan Good, Manu Narayan, Verne Troyer, Telma Hopkins, Ben Kingsley, Omid Djalili, Stephen Colbert, Jim Gaffigan
release US 20.Jun.08, UK 1.Aug.08
08/US Paramount 1h27
The Love Guru
From nowhere to now here: Myers and Malco

alba timberlake kingsley
R E V I E W    B Y    R I C H    C L I N E
The Love Guru A lacerating satire of self-help practitioners is long overdue, but this underdeveloped pastiche can only manage the occasional chuckle. It's enough to keep us watching, but only barely.

From his lavish ashram in Los Angeles, Guru Pitka (Myers) has become a minor American celebrity, annoyed that he plays second fiddle to Deepak Chopra. Then the owner of the Toronto Maple Leafs (Alba) asks for his help with Darren (Malco), the star player who's lost his nerve since his wife (Good) ran off with a well-endowed rival (Timberlake). Pitka starts Darren down the road to recovery, rushed by the coach (Troyer) and a promise of a career-boosting slot on Oprah. But you can't rush enlightenment.

There are some great ideas here that could have been brought out hilariously if the screenwriters had been more interested in the characters than the wacky characterisations. Very few of Myers' gags are actually funny, so director Schnabel gets costars to burst into laughter on screen, which only highlights the fact that we're not amused. A stream of funny cameos helps, and just enough satire hits the target, most notably the lampoon of self-help acronyms and mnemonics. Although even this wears thin as the story gets increasingly inane.

Myers' shtick is impeccably devised, and he stays with it down to the tiniest detail. The problem is that Pitka just isn't very likeable, and his running jokes fall flat. Most jokes are centred around either genitalia or that Austin Powers-style of wink-nudge faux sexuality, which doesn't work at all with this character. His frequent bursts into song feel both indulgent and tired. Everyone greets him with the phrase "mariska hargitay", including, in a cameo, Mariska Hargitay herself. Jessica Simpson is the topic of a comical rant, and then there she is too.

Meanwhile, the supporting cast is never allowed to steal a single scene from Myers: Alba has little to do but play herself as the thankless romantic foil; Malco just about escapes with his dignity; Timberlake is rather goofily embarrassing as the arrogant, Celine-loving moron; Troyer is just the victim of a series of unoriginal small-person gags; and as Pitka's cross-eyed guru, Kingsley should sue his agent.

cert 12 themes, language, innuendo 28.Jul.08

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© 2008 by Rich Cline, Shadows on the Wall