Wednesday, June 18, 2008

Thank Goodness: Mike Myers Seems To Understand NewAge Cultism In "The Love Guru"

Say what you will about Mike Myers, but he is a loyal fellow. In "The Love Guru," he’s given Verne Troyer, the diminutive actor who memorably played Mini-Me in the "Austin Powers" movies, a sizeable role.

On the other hand, he didn’t entice back director Jay Roach, so he’s had to settle for Roach’s second in command, Marco Schnabel. Unfortunately, this isn’t Julian Schnabel, or even Roach, and it shows. "The Love Guru" is one uneven piece of work.

It’s also incredibly gross, with Myers matching Adam Sandler’s "Zohan" for every scatological joke he can think up. There are plenty in "Love Guru," more than even a 12-year-old can stomach, mostly involving feces and urine. It’s mostly yuck, without the yucks.

Of course, that’s the whole idea. And "Love Guru," which sure doesn’t look very expensive, probably will have a big first weekend and a nice life on DVD and cable. But is it "Austin Powers" or even "Wayne’s World"? For all of its original ideas, "Love Guru" is neither of these concepts. It’s so thin sometimes it’s as threadbare as the motorized rug on which the Guru often rides.

Myers has one keen thing here, though. His Guru Pitka — dubbed "the poor man’s Deepak Chopra" — runs a cult-like self-awareness group that lampoons Madonna’s Kabbalah as well as Oprah’s Eckhart Tolle fanaticism.

Pitka is full of aphorisms and anagrams, and most of them are a hoot. For example, "Intimacy" really sounds out like "into me, see?" You can read the rest of them on Myers’ very funny Web site — maybe funnier than the movie — at [TMR: check out the yoga poses - hilarious!]

Some of Myers’ ideas are half-cooked, and some are just annoying. Guru Pitka’s use of "Mariska Hargitay" as a Hindu greeting is funny only the first 10 times. Once Hargitay, herself, makes a cameo, they have retired the joke.

There are other cameos, too, in this summer of walk-ons:

Jessica Simpson wanders through, and so does Kanye West.

Justin Timberlake is another one-note joke that goes on and on as he "plays" a villainous hockey star to the movie’s hockey hero, the very good Romany Malaco from "Weeds."

What’s happened to Myers remains a very good question. Sailing, and on top of his game with "Austin Powers," he kind of lost it along the way. He divorced his wife of 12 years, Robin, the daughter of the beloved "Coffee Talk" lady Linda Richman, who’d become his great character.

Just as Austin lost his mojo, Myers seemed to lose his sense of humor. Even the best bits in "Love Guru" feel forced and executed without the good nature of the past.

Still, there’s just enough of the old Mike Myers to keep "The Love Guru" pushing to its inevitable, not-a-moment-too-soon conclusion. He has the cult thing down.

And he also nails Oprah Winfrey, and the desire by everyone else in the media to get on her show to grab success and approbation.

-- Roger Friedman, not getting the point while reviewing the new Mike Myers NewAge comedy, for

I had my doubts about this movie but it sounds like Myers got it right: the emphasis on bodily fluids ("urine therapy" and the ritual cleaning of the colon) Buddhism, yoga, controlled breathing, solipsism, sex, and a thread-bare ideology only a fool could fall for.

I will *definitely* be seeing this one.

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