Posts Tagged ‘The Love Guru’


the_love_guru03Comedies don’t usually come with the kind of baggage that is dogging The Love Guru. It hits theatres cursed with a trailer only a mother could love, negative babble from bloggers and fighting against the strong reactions of Hindus, who, in India called for the film to be banned. Is the movie worth all the fuss? As the Guru Pitka himself might tell the naysayers, “To be enlightened you must first lighten up.”

The Love Guru is an extremely silly comedy that features jokes so old many were likely originally written in Sanskrit centuries ago, but it is so relentlessly upbeat, so good natured—and at 88 minutes, mercifully short—that it makes up in exuberance what it lacks in originality or actual laughs.

In the film self-help expert Guru Pitka (Mike Myers)—an orphaned American raised by gurus in an ashram in India—is hired by Toronto Maple Leafs owner Jane Bullard (Jessica Alba) and Coach Cherkov (Verne Troyer) to reunite star hockey player Darren Roanoke (Romany Malco) and his estranged wife (Meagan Good). It seems after their split Roanoke’s wife took up with a rival, L.A. Kings star goalie Jacques “Le Coq” Grande (Justin Timberlake), and the thought of the two of them together has sent the Maple Leaf into a tailspin both personally and professionally. Pitka must work his mojo on Roanoke and his wife before the beginning of the Stanley Cup Finals if the Leafs have a chance at breaking the 40-year-old “Bullard Curse” and winning the championship.

The Love Guru will bring a smile to your face from time to time, and maybe even a few laughs but the comedy world has changed since Myers last unveiled a new character. In a movie landscape populated by Judd Apatow comedies, movies based in the real world with real world situations and laughs, The Love Guru seems antiquated, like a relic from a different time. It’s broad, anything-for-a-laugh ethos has more to do with Benny Hill than Seth Rogen—another Canadian vying for the King of Comedy crown—and feels about as relevant as a Carry On movie.

The structure of the movie and many of the jokes and situations seem familiar, as though they have been borrowed from Austin Powers and retooled for Guru Pitka. That sense of familiarity with the jokes may be a comfort to some viewers who might see it as a “greatest hits” repackaging of their old favorite jokes, but I was left with a strange sense of déjà vu, as though I had seen it all before, and it was funnier the last time.
Myers is never any less than 100% committed to the role, and his devotion to the character is obvious. He’s in it to win it, but the outrageousness of the character is overwhelmed by an endless stream (no pun intended) of urination and bathroom humor, short gags at the expense of 32-inch co-star Verne Troyer and penis jokes. The humor here can only be described as shameless and juvenile, but if the idea of two elephants having very public sex amuses you, then The Love Guru may be perfect for you.

In an unusual marketing move The Love Guru is being released opposite Steve Carell in Get Smart. The big studios usually try and avoid opening two similar movies on the same weekend but here are two of comedy’s biggest stars going head-to-head. Both films have their virtues; both are retro—Get Smart is based on a 60s sitcom, The Love Guru’s jokes seem somehow, let’s say, traditional—and both stars have considerable audience goodwill. Which will win out? Perhaps it depends on how enlightened, or not, your comedy tastes are.

‘The Love Guru’ stirs controversy: Is racial humour a relic of the past? Canadian Press

tumblr_lub8hdJOIZ1qjizvzo1_400TORONTO — Mike Myers was a big fan of the buffoonish Insp. Clouseau of the “Pink Panther” films as a child, introduced to the rip-roaringly funny but politically incorrect movies by his beloved father, a comedy junkie himself.

But is the brand of cultural humour that has infused the Toronto-born Myers’s work – from the “Austin Powers” franchise to the upcoming “The Love Guru” – becoming a relic of the past?

“The Love Guru,” about a goofy Hindu self-help coach who tries to solve the marital woes of a Toronto Maple Leafs player, doesn’t arrive in theatres until June 20, but it’s already controversial as Hindu groups around the world complain that Myers is lampooning their faith.

Hindus in India have even called for the film to be banned, while North American Hindus – led by the man who has been called America’s most savvy Hindu priest, Rajan Zed – are actively trying to block the film’s release by appealing to distributors and theatre chains.

In Canada, one Hindu leader is calling for edits to the film and is planning to contact Paramount Pictures to demand them.

“It should not be released in Canada without editing,” said Kanayalal Raina, executive director of the Canada Hindu Heritage Centre in Mississauga, Ont. “There are only some portions that are offensive, not all, so it doesn’t mean that we should completely ban the picture, but it should not be released until it’s edited properly.”

Paramount Pictures is apparently so nervous about the controversy, they’ve decided to screen the movie for Hindu leaders before its release.

The film, starring Myers, Jessica Alba, Ben Kingsley and Justin Timberlake – who plays a Speedo-clad Quebecois hockey player – is “a satire created in the same spirit as ‘Austin Powers,”‘ says Paramount’s Jessica Rovins.

But Zed, the Nevada-based head of the Universal Society of Hinduism, has seen the trailer and isn’t impressed.

“The movie appeared to be lampooning Hinduism and Hindus and using Hindu terms frivolously,” he told the Times of India.

Richard Crouse, the film critic for CTV’s “Canada AM,” says it’s tough to successfully make movies based on racial stereotypes anymore, with the possible exception of the recent “Borat” film.

Some of the biggest comedies of the past have featured scenes, language and jokes that would likely make audiences squirm today – from Mel Brooks’s “Blazing Saddles” to Peter Sellers’s “The Party” and even the 1980s teen flick “Sixteen Candles,” in which a gong mysteriously sounded every time the film’s Chinese exchange student walked into a scene.

“‘Borat’ did it, but look at Borat’s choice of locale – Kazakhstan,” Crouse said Thursday. “It doesn’t have a real international voice and it’s a country that no one had really ever heard of before the movie came out.”

“Borat,” in fact, was skewering the ignorance of some Americans far more than it was ridiculing people from Kazakhstan, and that’s why the film was such a critical success, said Charles Keil, director of the Cinema Studies Institute at the University of Toronto.

But the buzz about the “The Love Guru,” he notes, isn’t positive.

“You can negotiate any of these potential landmines if you handle the publicity and the marketing properly, and if the film gets a warm critical reception,” Keil said.

“If, on the other hand, the film gets bad reviews and you don’t have the critics in your corner, than you’re left defending it on your own. Nobody wants to see a dumb movie that also offends people, whereas you can defend a smart movie that offends people.”

Like Myers, Sacha Baron Cohen has long cited Sellers as an influence, but the late British comic’s memorable portrayal of a boneheaded Indian in “The Party” would not fly today without engendering the same kind of outrage confronting “The Love Guru,” Crouse says.

“Look at ‘The Party’ – it’s a classic, but you simply could not make it today in the way that it was presented then. You just couldn’t.”

But Crouse says he finds it hard to imagine that the brains at Paramount did not anticipate the controversy that has reared up over “The Love Guru.”

“I haven’t seen the film yet, but there must be some cultural sensitivity – there has to be,” Crouse says. “I just can’t believe that a major release from a major movie star is going to drop the ball completely. There must have been some work done behind the scenes beforehand to make sure this movie is not going to get swept away in a sea of controversy.”