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  Love Guru, The Help Yourself
Year: 2008
Director: Marco Schnabel
Stars: Mike Myers, Jessica Alba, Justin Timberlake, Romany Malco, Meagan Good, Ben Kingsley, Verne Troyer, Manu Narayan, John Oliver, Stephen Colbert, Jim Gaffigan, Omid Djalili, Telma Hopkins, Jessica Simpson, Val Kilmer, Mariska Hargitay, Kanye West
Genre: ComedyBuy from Amazon
Rating:  6 (from 1 vote)
Review: American born, Indian raised guru Pitka (Mike Myers) has seen the roaring success of his self-help literature, but somehow there has always been personal fulfilment of his own just out of his grasp. For one thing, he feels he should be the top of his field and not childhood friend Deepak Chopra, and the fact that he's never been invited on the Oprah Winfrey Show while his rival has still smarts, so when he gets a call from hockey team owner Jane Bullard (Jessica Alba) he understands this could be a great opportunity. All he has to do is build up up the confidence of one of her players - easier said than done...

It's safe to say that when Mike Myers returned to the big screen after his trio of highly profitable Austin Powers movies, cartoon voiceovers notwithstanding, the reception to The Love Guru may well not have been what he had wished for. It was one of the worst reviewed comedies of all time, and worst recieved by the public to boot, so much so that many thought the comedian had effectively lost his humour mojo. But was it really all that bad? Or had audiences grown too familiar with Myers' smut with a sweet grin shtick to tolerate any more? Because watching it after the minor furore about its lack of quality had died down, this did manage to raise a few laughs.

Perhaps the problem was that underneath the endless stream of dodgy gags, there was a New Agey, hippy dippy lifestyle improvement, self actualisation message to The Love Guru that many outside Hollywood would have had trouble taking seriously. You could say that Myers had trouble taking it seriously as well except that on this evidence he really meant all those wise bon mots that Pitka comes out with, and not only the double entendres either. It was no secret that Myers had suffered his own soul searching times, and through the medium of laughter he was trying to bring solace to his viewers as well as himself.

To do this he adopted a persona that would have been considered a no-no in Britain, which was the comedy Indian, fine if you're an actual comedy Indian, but not so great if you're a white guy putting on the sing-song accent. Indeed Myers was criticised for his character here, but after watching it, to his credit, it's hard to see anyone getting too mad at him for long, as for the most part the entire production was too incredibly stupid to be regarded as anything other than one hundred percent daft. Which some may have found offensive in itself, but to get righteously furious at something so utterly silly did not reflect too well on the priorities of those getting riled.

So if the philosophy has its heart in the right place even if it was like being lectured on karma by Benny Hill, what were the jokes like? If you'd seen the Austin Powers efforts, well, they were like that, only with a Peter Sellers in The Party accent, although Pitka was more self aware. Enlisted were a host of stars, obviously hoping that the world would see them as good sports and possessors of a fine sense of humour, only to see themselves looking ridiculous and possessors of poor judgement by the multitude of detractors. That said, if you were in the right mood you could dismiss the slightly unsettling obsession with deriving dubious humour from every situation and The Love Guru could strike you as having its moments; it was no classic, but the cast worked hard to generate brightness to the ludicrous plot and setpieces. Maybe you just had to be on Myers' wavelength, but if you were prepared to leave all inhibitions at the door, here was a film that wanted to help out with a goodnatured tickle of the funny bone, asking nothing in return but a few chuckles. Shouldn't it be "Maple Leaves?" Music by George S. Clinton.
Reviewer: Graeme Clark

 

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