The Love Guru / Agent Bedhead
Film Reviews | June 21, 2008 | Comments ()
Mike Myers has, thoughout his career, followed that ill-fated advice of “write what you know.” After all, Wayne’s World was based upon his experience growing up in Toronto’s suburbs, right down to the donut shop hangouts and the high school production classes, which morphed into the cable-access television program in the “SNL” skit and subsequent films. Myers has also attributed most of the inspiration for Austin Powers: International Man of Mystery and its sequels to his father’s love of British comedy, and Myers’ recent dreadful outing as The Cat In The Hat was, quite literally, lifted from childhood memories of his mother reading the book aloud. All of these efforts were met with degrees of varying success, and Myers’ career has lasted longer than most comedians who draw characters from their own life experience. The main problem with this approach is that, eventually, one becomes quite barren as subject matter. This is especially true when one lives the relatively cloistered life of an actor who has, in the past six years, left his estate grounds to voice Shrek films, host the MTV Movie Awards, and seek his path of spiritual enlightenment. So, before anyone could stop him, Myers actually climbed up his own ass for inspiration. What came out is an endless stream of verbal diarrhea that includes jokes about actual diarrhea and also such fascinating topics as urine, poop, midgets, gays, and penises galore. This newborn character, Guru Pitka, even makes diarrhea noises to help raise the morale of his clients. Whether or not it is actually supposed to work, well, who gives a shit?
Essentially, Myers has haphazardly turned a few knobs on his standard exaggerated dork-out-of-water character, and, somehow, he’s made all the wrong moves in The Love Guru. Myers serves not only as the lead actor but also as producer, co-writer, audience, and full-time laugh track. One also gets the distinct impression that the film’s director, rookie Marco Schnabel, functions mostly as a name in the credits. Speaking of which, Myers appears in four credited roles: Guru Pitka, Teenage Pitka, Young Pitka, and Mike Myers (as himself) in an actual cameo in his own fucking movie. To that end, little doubt exists that Myers is clearly in charge of this operation. Everyone else is just another excuse for a poorly executed sex joke.
Films this stupid invariably try to explain themselves as farces, and the satire label is often tossed around all too casually along with a, “You just don’t get it,” sort of dismissal. Of course, just because a film is composed of ridiculous and improbable events, that doesn’t mean it can get away with not having an actual discernable storyline. Similarly, satire cannot succeed without subtlety. Here, Myers laughs at all of his own jokes and perpetually mugs into the camera’s lens. Other actors in the film break character and laugh until they piss themselves to assure Myers how very funny he really is, and, thusly encouraged, Myers doesn’t constrain himself to providing the audience with just one extended comedy sketch. Instead, The Love Guru runs through a endless series of disconnected tableau that feature the same characters volleying between Bollywoodesque musical numbers and nonsensical dialogue, all of which is poorly punctuated by Myers’ penis remarks and diarrhea noises. Add some manic mantras and navel gazing into the mix, and it’s almost too damn good that Myers also aims to give the audience what they really want….
Elephant sex. With Guru Pitka on top. Clearly, we’re not worthy.
Pitka may know a lot about shit, but he doesn’t know shit about Eastern philosophy. His standard mantra seems to be “Mariska Hargitay,” and he dispenses his advice through acronyms such as “BLOWME” (Be Loving and Open With My Emotions). The plot, if there is one, revolves around Pitka’s penis jokes and the everlasting joy he finds in keeping his own balls encased in chastity contraptions. For whatever reason, Pitka is the Number Two (oh, clever) self-help guru in the world and rivaled only by Deepak Chopra. Pitka is thrilled when the owner of the Toronto Maple Leafs hockey team, Jane Bullard (the ubiquitous Jessica Alba), hires Pitka for a high-profile gig. You can practically see the “Oprah Winfrey Show,” lights flashing in Pitka’s eyes as he receives his assignment: To help the team’s star player, Darren Roanoke (Romany Malco), who has lost his hockey mojo ever since his wife, Prudence (Meagan Good), decided to leave in favor of banging the rival team’s goalie, Jacques “Le Coq” Grande (Justin Timberlake). If Pitka can help get the Maple Leafs to the winning place at the Stanley Cup Finals, instant fame and the top of the Guru chart shall be his. The fatal flaw, of course, is that nobody cares except Myers himself.
In the entirety of The Love Guru, none of the characters display a personality or pull anything but ambivalence from the audience. This is likely the result of Myers’ failure to establish the film’s supporting players as anything but their double-entendre evoking names. So, we meet the imbecile who trained Pitka, Guru Tugginmypudha (Ben Kingsley); Pitka’s assistant, Rajneesh (Manu Narayan); and some dude that exists simply because Myers felt compelled to include a character named Dick Pants (John Oliver). Also, since midgets make easy targets and convenient hockey pucks, Verne Troyer (the poor man’s Peter Dinklage) makes an obligatory — and let’s be honest, he can’t possibly afford to refuse this — turn as Coach Punch Cherkov. Finally, the audience is subjected to several cameos, including Deepak Chopra and Kanye West as themselves, and two TV commentator roles are filled by Stephen Colbert (what the hell?) and Jim Gaffigan.
One positive result of the otherwise dreadful experience of The Love Guru is this: Jessica Alba and her overexposed ass have finally reached their threshold as a so-called hot commodity. Within the past year, Alba has managed to insert herself into the action/adventure, romcom, comedy, thriller, and horror genres. Her performance here is as photocopied and utterly vacant as audiences have come to expect, and the sheer sunniness of that perfect smile is betrayed by Alba’s vacant gaze, as if she cannot wait to go somewhere, anywhere else, so long as she’s not judged by her hotness. As for Myers, if he wants to keep his career, he needs to step out of his own ass for new characters or limit himself, as with Shrek, to being a hired gun for proven franchises. Did you ever find Bugs Bunny attractive when he put on a dress and played girl bunny? No, and the same goes for Mike Myers with whacked-out clothes and a diarrhea fetish. Ya freak.
Agent Bedhead (a.k.a. “Kimberly”) lives in Tulsa, Oklahoma. She can be found looking forward to Bryan Bertino’s next one at agentbedhead.com.