I'm having a hard time with the old axiom "If you don't have something nice to say, don't say anything at all" while figuring out how to share my thoughts on the new Mike Myers comedy (and by the way, that categorization is a stretch) The Love Guru. I have to be honest, I've been sitting on this for a few days now, and I'm hard-pressed to find a single decent thing to say about it. There is juvenile, there is crude, there is downright not funny. . . and then there is this movie.
In addition to the general unfunniness, watching The Love Guru is practically unbearable due to the desperation that permeates the entire film. It's hard to tell if Myers realized most of the shticks were lame, or if he felt that because he's Mike Meyers people will laugh, so he has carte blanche to go as low as he's ever felt like going. The camera is so close to his face for so much of the film, we see every bit of manic energy going into each line, and he uses this intense stare to practically will (or beg?) us to find it all hilarious. It's sad. And uncomfortable. Not even Justin Timberlake in speedos with a funny Canadian accent can salvage this attempt at humor.
If you're curious about what I found specifically mind boggling about this movie, read more.
Here's what's baffling to me: it's not like the world of self-actualization and New Age philosophies (not to mention the rabid celebrity followings these things can sometimes attract) aren't easy targets for comedians. I'm curious why Myers didn't create a ridiculous hybrid of these "gurus" as a way of perhaps poking fun at the self-help industry. Instead he goes way over the top into Indian culture and Hinduism, and if I wasn't reeling from the idiocy of the jokes I probably would have noticed that I was also offended. We're talking about Indians fighting each other with urine and eating "weird" foods that look like a man's scrotum, not to mention lame attempts at Bollywood-style musical numbers.
In the end, the worst crime committed by Myers is a strange, self-obsessed unwillingness to edit himself at all. In fact, he laughs at his own jokes three out of four times throughout the movie. And in an eerie twist, it's as if he knows we're not laughing because he drills many of the gags into the ground, I guess using some nutty rationale that the 90th time's the charm. For example, his greeting to all his subjects is the name of Law & Order actress, Mariska Hargitay. Everyone says "Mariska Hargitay" each time they greet each other and it's not funny. And then to prove to us that it is funny — Hello! Don't you get it? It's not a real greeting, it's the actress! Mariska Hargitay! — Mariska Hargitay herself shows up to greet Myer's character with a "Mariska Hargitay" and. . . nope, still not funny. Just annoying, now.
Whatever fine line Myers has walked in the past between base humor and staying true to the memorable (if absurd) character he's playing, he took a flying leap over it with this film and it's heartbreaking to see.
Photos courtesy of Paramount Pictures