Saturday, August 02, 2008

THE LOVE GURU - not quite good enough

Marishka Hargitay!Here's the thing. I don't find dick and fart jokes particularly funny. (This isn't judgmental - just a a matter of taste). Nor do I find comedians putting on ethnic accents at the cutting edge of humour: Peter Sellars had that down decades ago. Having said all that, I love WAYNE'S WORLD and the first AUSTIN POWERS movie. They were such warm-hearted joyful pastiches of genre-movies, I could overlook the occasional crude joke. Mike Myers' latest movie, THE LOVE GURU, tilts the balance firmly in favour of the crude and away from the thoughtful spoof. That's fine and if you like that kind of humour, as many of the people in the cinema I was in last night did, you'll have a really good times. The litmus test is this: is the idea of two lychees wrapped in pastry to look like balls funny to you? If so, go forth and enjoy!

If you don't find that funny, as I didn't, is there enough in this film to keep you satisfied? My answer is wishy-washy. I can't say I'd want to watch THE LOVE GURU again, and I did cringe every time Ben Kingsley portrayed a cross-eyed Indian guru. (Has Ganndhi come to this?!) The running joke using Marishka Hargitay's name may not play in the UK and Justin Timberlake is definitely worth more than his cameo as a camp Quebecois hockey player. And the scene where the trainee gurus joust with urine covered mops was truly tragic.

But there are a handful of genuine laughs in this movie, and I had an okay time with it. The basic idea is that Mike Myers is a LA based celebrity Guru, always striving to be bigger than Deepak Chopra. If Guru Pitka can reunite an ice-hockey star and his wife in time to restore his game and win the championship, the Guru will appear on Oprah securing his position as number one Guru. Pitka has a bunch of risible self-help techniques, signified by trade-marked acronyms, and the titles of all his books ARE funny. The early sight gag of the motorised cushion is also brilliant. I even liked the Bollywood song-and-dance number spoofs with Jessica Alba.

Still, as funny as the soft spoofery was, I couldn't help but think that THE LOVE GURU would've worked better as a SNL sketch. And, if truth be told, the funniest thing in it IS like a SNL sketch - Stephen Colbert's satire on sports commentators was sharper and edgier than anything Myers brought to the table.

THE LOVE GURU was released earlier this year in the USA, Australia and Israel. It is currently on release in Iceland, Italu and the UK. It opens later in August in Singapore, Sweden, Finland, Norway and Turkey. It opens in September in Belgium, the Netherlands, Venezuela and France. It opens in October in France, Germany, Austria and Spain.

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