The Love Guru

Starring Mike Myers, Jessica Alba, Justin Timberlake and Romany Malco. Directed by Marco Schnabel
Running Time: 86 mins
Rated: Rated M (frequent sexual references, some coarse language and drug references)
A bizarre melange of Eastern mysticism and ice hockey,.this vehicle for Canadian comedy star Mike Myers was produced by Myers and co-written by him (with Graham Gordy), and it marks the directing debut of Marco Schnabel, who worked in the crews of the Austin Powers films that launched Myers to movie stardom. So anyone who didn't revel in Austin Powers should exercise extreme caution.
Myers plays Pitka, who was raised by gurus on an ashram in India and who returns to his native America peddling his own brand of self-help and flower-power psychology with the aim of unseating Deepak Chopra as flavour of the month on the Oprah Winfrey Show.
His reputation as an expert at solving romantic problems brings him to the attention of Jane Bullard (Jessica Alba), owner of the Toronto Maple Leafs ice-hockey team, which has been on a losing streak since its ace player, Darren Roanoke (Romany Malco), became depressed because his wife left him and took up with the star player of a rival team. Jane wants Guru Pitka to patch up the marital rift so Roanoke can regain his form and take the Maple Leafs to the Stanley Cup.
It's as if there are two films here - the maharishi satire complete with Bollywood dancing girls, which borders on the insane and nonsensical, and the fairly conventional hockey team comedy. They do not mix very well, particularly when the screenplay attempts to introduce something resembling a realistic romance between Pitka and the hockey club owner (a really charming performance by Jessica Alba in spite of everything).
Myers is one of those comedy people whose greatest attribute is unswerving confidence that everything they do is hilarious. He is energetic enough as the perennially grinning guru who has written a book for every situation is never short of a catchy proverb, and the movie's tilts at the commercialism of the guru industry are mostly well-placed. But the script is shabby and full of grubby sexual innuendo. "I want alligator soup, and make it snappy' is about the apex of the wit, and the names of Indian characters and places are mostly concocted with the sort of double-entendres that make pubescent schoolboys giggle. An Indian brand of martial arts is Howdah Hurtaguy - get the idea? ­- but that is one of the few without a reference to bodily functions.
Somehow Myers has cajoled Ben Kingsley into playing an ancient guru who is cross-eyed (not a good career move, Ben), and small actor Verne Troyer is the butt of more dwarf jokes than probably any other film in history (including Myers holding him up as if just presented with the Oscar).
It is all pretty puerile, unfortunately, and even Austin Powers fans will likely feel short-changed.
Paramount Out July 10
Jim Murphy is an associate of the Australian Catholic Office for Film & Broadcasting.

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