The Love Guru

The simplest statements can be quite wise, and I think few people know this better than Mike Myers. Despite the goofball sense of humor exhibited in most of his films, his characters are always filled with a childlike innocence buried beneath a hyper-comedic, overcompensating exterior. “Out of the mouths of babes,” is almost his tagline. Whether his films ultimately come together or not, the straightforward sensibilities of his characters generally endear him to us, even if much of the comedy falls flat. He’s basically Don Knotts. The Love Guru is an entire movie built around the general, and oft-repeated concept, “Intimacy is Into Me I See.” That is, it is only by sharing ourselves, and letting others really see us, that we come to know ourselves. It’s simple, but pretty good stuff. It attempts to unravel this idea from a variety of angles, not the least of which being the examination of Myers’ character. The Love Guru sets the stage for Myers to confront his intimacy issues and break through the defense mechanism of perpetually covering oneself with humor, even when only the most juvenile gags are available. Unfortunately, the film is the embodiment of the utter failure of such a confrontation, and sometimes simple statements are just simple.

Mike Myers is the titular guru, and our story is that he is hired by the Toronto Maple Leafs to help their star player, Darren Roanoke, get over the loss of his wife. Said wife has hooked up with the goalie from another team, and Roanoke has been useless on the ice ever since. He also has mother issues, which may be the root of all his problems, but the truth is he never really wanted to split with his true love in the first place. It’s up to the Love Guru, Guru Pitka, to work through the whole mess, and get Roanoke emotionally stable enough to win the Stanley Cup. Meanwhile, Guru Pitka will naturally stumble through attempts at wooing Maple Leafs owner Jane Bullard (Jessica Alba).

Guru Pitka is a Guru, mainly as a result of the happy accident of following another Guru from a young age. It isn’t so much that he truly understands the tenets of those classified as Gurus, but he knows what they are. As perhaps a meaningful poke at the overwhelming number of self-help wizards around today, Guru Pitka spits out fortune-cookie truisms and can reduce any aspect of life to a cool bullet list, but doesn’t really have any idea what he’s talking about.

Emotional healing, for hockey player and guru alike, comes by way of more or less random excuses for fourth-grade humor. Nearly everyone has a gag name, meeting the vertically-challenged necessitates the carrying of a plate of shrimp, and when all else fails just fill two minutes with fart noises. This would be bad enough if we could throw out a tasteless, juvenile joke once in a while and have done, but here it’s just the same jokes over and over. Jacques “Le Coq” Grande is one thing, but playing it out for half of a film’s runtime is quite another.

There are moments when it has to be admitted that we cannot help but laugh (perhaps different moments for different people), but at some point the whole enterprise becomes surreal. Myers plays out his real life fear of intimacy, displays, and even explains his jester-like, regressive defense mechanism, and then never gets past it. Before long, the movie itself is an entity that won’t let us get inside, always neatly dodging approaches at self-expression with a dozen short jokes or a kick to the groin.

The film has been called “stupid” with great regularity, but it’s unfair and misused. All Mike Myers comedies are stupid, but some of them are quite good. So I Married an Axe Murderer and the first Austin Powers movie are both hopelessly stupid, but nevertheless funny and enjoyable to watch. Those are both movies on the good side of entertaining, specifically because they use the comedy and pratfalls to let us inside just the kind of character this movie wants to talk about. The Love Guru attempts to take the whole theory one better, by manifesting rather than telling, but throws so much terrible, lowest-class humor around that it can’t get out of its own way.

Barney Fife puffs out his chest, swaggers across the room, and grandiosely draws his gun, only he can’t get it out of his holster. After repeated attempts, he finally frees his weapon, but by now the drama has become an embarrassment, and Barney looks crestfallen. After a pause to evaluate the situation, he dons a boyish smirk, resets himself, and carries on. That scene alone is a far better version of this movie than this movie could ever manage, and it knows that the whole thing loses all value if Barney just sits there tugging at his gun for an hour. You see what I did there? Tugging at his gun. For an hour. This is just the sort of movie that is bound to deliver a decent package at the store, mainly because the makers feel a person ought to get at least something for their money. There special features are divided into several sections in order to claim some relatively large number of them, but a lot of them could have easily been put together as simply Outtakes.

Things start off with "Mike Myers & The Love Guru – An Inside Look", which is a ten minute featurette in which several members of the cast basically congratulate themselves on what a fine movie this is. It’s as needless a special feature as there might possibly be. I suppose the idea is that if they explain that really think it’s great, you’ll feel better about buying it.

Next up is "One Helluva Elephant", a six minute feature on the animatronic elephant used in several scenes. It’s far more information than I imagine anyone needs on the subject. All I could really think, as the smallest details were explained to me, was the mind-boggling effort and resources that go into the least worthy of films.

"Hockey Training for Actors" has Mark Ellis, second unit director and hockey coordinator, taking us through the paces of getting actors prepared to look realistic on the ice. Though this isn’t particularly interesting, and serves mostly to let Ellis tell us how great the film is again, it is at least a legitimate behind-the-scenes exploration. The ode to Justin Timberlake is a bit humorous, but feels like it might have been in Justin’s contract. It’s not too bad for eight minutes.

The set of deleted scenes that are officially titled "Deleted & Extended Scenes" includes 10 scenes and an alternate ending. None of the scenes or changes mean much to the film (how could they?), but even in the worst of films it can be interesting to see what sort of decisions were made. Oddly, they seemed to cut out some of the funnier bits if you ask me. That said about deleted scenes and my interest in the thought process behind moviemaking, to have an alternate ending of this mess is to suffer from delusions of grandeur.

"Bloopers" is fairly obvious, and is four minutes of people laughing at the wrong times, and suffering champagne bottle malfunctions. Meanwhile, "Outtakes and More" is ten minutes of run together bits and pieces that will make you wonder what could possibly distinguish this from deleted scenes and/or bloopers. Maybe these are outtakes from the blooper reel.

"Back in the Booth with Trent and Jay" is without question the funniest five minutes of footage in any way associated with The Love Guru. Trent and Jay are the sportscasters who lead us into the many hockey segments, and they are responsible for the only real laughs in the movie. They are played by Stephen Colbert and Jim Gaffigan, and though they delve into a good measure of raunchy, lowbrow humor as well, they show you how to do it. This five minute little gem is comprised of a variety of spins on the actual scenes that made it into the films.

The two-disc special edition includes a digital copy of the film for those interested in getting it onto various media players. All things considered, this is not a bad disc, although sticking only to the special features may actually be the preferred method of viewing this.