Movie News & Reviews

Love Guru may need help of its own

In Trainspotting, Sick Boy introduced us to the Had It/Lost It Theory of musical criticism: Great bands, he says, have "it," which makes them great, but sooner or later they lose it, and once it's gone, you can never get it back.

I like this theory because it seems to be true and it's easy to understand, which is good, because about all I know about music is it can be produced either by hitting an instrument if it's made of wood or yelling through it if it's made of metal. I'm still confused how they fit a whole band inside something as small as a car stereo.

The other great thing about the Had It/Lost It Theory is that, with the exception of writers, you can apply it to all the creative fields. (As for writers, I'm pretty sure we start out perfect and only get better from there.) It appears to hit comedians especially hard. Mike Myers has had a long and mostly-good career, but judging by The Love Guru, his latest, "it" has deserted him so completely he can't even swear about it without sounding like he's shushing everyone.

For all Myers' success as a self-help guru, he can't help feeling overshadowed by Deepak Chopra, the giant of the field. Opportunity knocks in the form of Romany Malco, Toronto's all-star hockey player who's lost his game right before the Stanley Cup.

Jessica Alba, the team's owner, brings in Myers to patch things up between Malco and his wife, who's been driven into the arms of rival goalie Justin Timberlake. As Myers starts to set Malco's love life straight, he begins to fall for Alba.

But in a twist so shocking I expect to die a martyr's death for the spoilers I'm about to reveal, Myers' vows (and a chastity belt)prevent him from loving a woman until he first learns to love himself. Will Myers be able to pull that off? Or will the Love Guru's tragic fate be that he can find love for everyone but himself?

All right, that's as much as I can pretend to care. The only reason The Love Guru has a plot at all is writers Myers and Graham Gordy must have feared us stuffy traditionalists would have been upset if the movie were nothing more than the 80-minute poo and dick joke it so desperately yearns to be.

Superbad and Walk Hard are recent proof dick jokes can be funny, but The Love Guru's so lazy and brainless I can only assume it was written by a team of kidnapped 4-year-olds who didn't get their daily cup of gruel until they came up with another timeless classic like naming a character "Dick Pants." My conversation with the girl who sold me my ticket was funnier than this, and that was just me laughing scornfully as I informed her that no I do not want to donate a dollar to their charity.

When Myers isn't exploring the comic nuances of the male genitals (food can be made to resemble nutsacks), he cuts loose with some razor-sharp satire aimed at the self-help crowd (they use acronyms and lovey-dopey phrases) and Bollywood (they wear bright clothes, and are known to sing and dance). Also? Puns and midgets are glittering comedy goldmines.

The problem isn't the subject, though, it's that it's treated so witlessly, like Myers thinks these subjects are so racy and taboo thatmerely mentioning them over and over (and over and over!!!!) will take the place of actual jokes.

As if aware it's got absolutely nothing else going for it, The Love Guru includes an invading army of celebrity appearances, and cameos, as Dr. Johnson once said, are the last refuge of the scoundrel. Not that these are any help: even Stephen Colbert can only manage one laugh-worthy line, and that guy's like 80% funny by weight. Others fare even worse, including Sir Ben Kingsley, who needs either to be stripped of his knighthood or, depending on your views on capital punishment, strangled to death by Zombie Gandhi. That's right: The Love Guru is so ragingly unfunny it could drive the world's greatest pacifist out of his grave and into a Hollywood killing spree.

There's been some brouhaha about the movie's supposed mockery of Hinduism and Indian culture. Fortunately for the easily offended, The Love Guru is far too toothless and feeble to upset anyone other than the people who pay money to see it.

Grade: D-