Monday, February 9, 2009
I have seen the end of the universe, and it is a 91-minute dick joke. The Love Guru is so bad, so piercingly unfunny, that I feel almost that I've aged since I watched it. After it ended, I felt a sharp pain in my back and a stiffness in my joints and checked myself in the mirror to see if I'd grown a long, gray beard. That people would sign up for this film baffles me; that genuine celebrities would do so almost makes me believe in a God. A spiteful, bored bastard God.
Mike Myers cranks the offensiveness up to 11 as Guru Pitka, an American who grew up in a Hindi ashram after his parents died doing missionary work. His elder's name is Tugginmypudha (har har), played by Ben Kingsley. I guess that, coupled with The Wackness, today was a "watch a falling star" day for my movie watching. Pitka learns the ways of the self-help guru, but is always second to real-life philosopher Deepak Chopra, who surely must have reached a level of Zen if he allowed himself to be in this.
Meanwhile, in Toronto, Maple Leafs team owner Jane Bullard (Jessica Alba) must deal with a star player (Romany Malco) who's suddenly choking every game because his wife left him for rival goalie Jacques "Le Coq" Grande (Justin Timberlake). Bullard, a devotee of Pitka's, believes that the guru can reunite the couple, thus snapping Roanoke out of his funk and breaking the decades-long "Bullard Curse" that's kept the Stanley Cup out of Toronto's since Jane's family took over the team. Pitka arrives, and we see immediately that he's an idiot, but that does not discourage him.
What follows is a non-stop stream of bad...well, I refuse to call it double entrendre, because that implies that a word has two meanings: names like Cherkhov, "Le Coq" and Tugginmypudha sound like the sexual monikers of the characters of Dr. Strangelove as filtered through the mind of an 11-year-old. Myers and co. stress every possible pahllic reference as if jokes like "If your Uncle Jack would help you off an elephant, would you help your Uncle Jack off an elephant?" are satire on the level of Voltaire. To emphasize the "jokes" even further, Myers affects a wheezing laugh after every other line, a desperate sounding gasp that seems indicitive of how badly the filmmakers want you to find this stuff funny. But if you thought they were just going to stick to bad puns, then hold onto your hats! We also get a bevy of lame physical comedy and the occasional bit of gross-out humor, including a fight with urine-soaked mops and two elephants humping in the hockey rink.
If there is any bright spot in all of this, it's the scenes involving Stephen Colbert and Jim Gaffigan as sportcasters. Colbert's drug-addled, sex-crazed commentator in particular belongs in a funnier sports movie, but this begs a question: why do all sports comedies these days give all the good lines to the sportscasters?
After I finished the film, I checked the special features and found, sure enough, outtakes. This surprises me for two reasons: 1)People on set actually found this stuff funny and 2)more than one take was shot. The film you see before you was compiled from the best possible shots they could get. I just think of someone getting up in the morning to work on this film The wife stirs beside him: "Jack, go feed the baby." "No time honey, I've got movies to make!" IMDB tells me that Billy Weber edited the film; can you imagine having to go through frames of this picking the best takes? I looked at his profile and felt my stomach tighten: this man has edited some great films, from Terrence Malick's masterpieces Days of Heaven and The Thin Red Line to the action flick Top Gun for which he got an Oscar nomination. After The Thin Red Line, however, his credits consist solely of Miss Congeniality, Showtime, Gigli (!), Nacho Libre, and this. Man, I need a stiff drink just reading that; I wonder how he feels.
I notice I haven't spent that much time on this review, but I don't care anymore. The Love Guru is beneath my time, and yours. It is so bad it makes "Worst of" lists redundant. The only reason I do not say it is the worst film I have ever seen is that I add qualifiers to that statement that only allow films that wanted to be something better and failed. That, in the end, is the best I can say about the film: no one expected this to be Airplane! and no one treats it as such. But that does not excuse the borderline racism and the hopelessly unfunny gags. It's the final nail in the coffin of the career of a man who used to be able to keep me in stitches (Wayne's World, the first Austin Powers) but now makes me cringe (the Shrek sequels, the Austin Powers sequels). I even found myself feeling sorry for Jessica Alba, who finally starred in a movie that deserved her. These are dark days, my friends.