"The Love Guru" is so relentlessly juvenile as to merit a new twist on the PG-13 rating -- one that strongly cautions not only those under 13 but anyone much above it, too.
“The Love Guru” is so relentlessly juvenile as to merit a new twist on the PG-13 rating — one that strongly cautions not only those under 13 but anyone much above it, too. Even so, producer/co-writer/star Mike Myers partially wears down resistance by simply pummeling the audience with bathroom jokes, sixth-grade puns and silly songs, and clocking in under 90 minutes, the movie avoids this summer’s comedic mini-trend of overstaying its welcome. Opening opposite “Get Smart” isn’t ideal, but coupled with lingering affection for the “Austin Powers” series, this might just be dumb enough to at least hold its own.
Myers developed the character of Guru Pitka via a sort-of workshop process of New York stage appearances, and for the most part, this spoof of self-help spiritualism feels like a “Saturday Night Live” bit fluffed and stretched to theatrical length. Many of the jokes bring to mind Three Stooges-type farce (Ben Kingsley’s master guru is named — now sound this out — Tugginmypudha), including a seemingly endless array of self-improvement acronyms like Be Loving & Open With My Emotions — all trademarked, of course.
Although a renowned guru, Pitka suffers from an inferiority complex regarding his childhood pal Deepak Chopra, and yearns to equal Chopra’s level of fame by winning an appearance on “The Oprah Winfrey Show.” (Make what you will of the fact that while Chopra makes a cameo appearance, the pic has to settle for “Oprah” footage and a Winfrey voice impersonator.)
Pitka’s potential ticket to fame comes from the owner of the Toronto Maple Leafs, Jane (Jessica Alba), who is struggling with a star player (Romany Malco) emotionally wounded by a bad marital rift. Hoping to salvage the team’s chances of winning the Stanley Cup Finals, she retains Pitka to cure the case of the yips the player’s developed — brought about, seemingly, by his wife’s rebound relationship with the enormously endowed Jacques “Le Coq” Grande (Justin Timberlake).
The porous plot, actually, is all secondary to the shtick, and working completely unfettered by first-time director Marco Schnabel, Myers cheerfully unleashes a steady barrage of hit-and-mostly-miss gags that range from Bollywood numbers (pretty funny) to repeated use of “Mariska Hargitay” (yes, the name of the “Law & Order” star) as a felicitous greeting to elephant erotica (not that funny for anybody who’s ever been to the zoo). With “Powers’ “ Mini-Me, Verne Troyer, as the Leafs’ hockey coach, there’s also a near-limitless supply of runt, elf and Hobbit jokes.
Beyond Myers, pic pretty much squanders its supporting cast — though Timberlake does steal a few moments with his awful Canadian accent — which includes Comedy Central’s Stephen Colbert as a drug-addled announcer and “The Daily Show’s” John Oliver as Pitka’s agent. As for Alba, she has even less to do here, if that’s possible, than in “Good Luck Chuck,” which might warrant some further thought about playing the object of desire in screwball comedies.
Rambunctiousness by itself is hardly a virtue, but Myers so unabashedly embraces the lowest rungs of comedic DNA that whether one succumbs to it or not, at least there’s no time to be wasted arguing about subtext. Sitting through “The Love Guru” doesn’t provide any grand insights about self-actualization, but if watching someone get sloshed with urine sounds like a knee-slapper, then Mike Myers is determined to make movies for you.