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The Love Guru (2008)

Paramount Home Entertainment
DVD Released: 9/16/2008

All Ratings out of

Review by Mike Long, Posted on 9/13/2008

As much as we hate to admit it, the old adage "Nobody's perfect" is very true. We all make mistakes from time-to-time, and for most people, this is simply a fact of life. But, when a successful person has something go wrong, the event seems much more substantial and glaring. Following his popular run on Saturday Night Live, Mike Myers found fame and fortune in movies, first with the Wayne's World films, then the Austin Powers trilogy, and lending his voice to Shrek for those animated hits. It would seem that the man made flawless choices in projects. Then came 2003's The Cat in the Hat, a good idea gone horribly wrong. It would be five years before Myers would appear in another live-action film, and that movie, The Love Guru, was clearly meant to inspire another Austin Powers-like series. Guess what? That's not going to happen.

Myers stars in The Love Guru as Guru Pitka, a self-made holy man who has an ashram in Los Angeles, and many devoted followers. Despite the fact that he's written many books, and attracts celebrities, Pitka is unfulfilled because he's also second-best to Deepak Chopra. Then, one day, he's get his chance to show the true depths of his abilities. He's contacted by Jane Bullard (Jessica Alba), the owner of the Toronto Maple Leafs, who desperately needs his help. Her star player, Darren Roanoke (Romany Malco), has separated from his wife, and since that time, his play has deteriorated. Darren's wife, Prudence (Meagan Good), is seeing Darren's arch-rival, Jacques Grande (Justin Timberlake). If Pitka can convince Darren to get back together with Prudence, and overcome his recent problems, then Pitka will get $2 million and an appearance on Oprah. However, Pitka must first overcome his own problems before he can help others.

When I hear negative hype about a movie, I always hope that it's not true because, as obvious as this sounds, I want every movie to be good. However, the reports on The Love Guru are true: this isn't a good movie. But, before we start pointing fingers (and we will), allow me to say this. I like Mike Myers. I enjoyed his work on SNL and while I thought that Wayne's World was overrated, I loved the Austin Powers movies. Even the flawed So I Married an Axe Murderer had its moments. But, The Love Guru, despite the presence of a talent like Myers, can't overcome its major flaw: it simply isn't funny.

I'm sure that on-paper, The Love Guru seemed like a good idea. Myers reportedly tested the character on friends and some live audiences and got good feedback. And given the success of Austin Powers, the plan to have Myers get lost in a wacky character probably seemed like a winner. But, from the outset, the movie is plagued with problems. For starters, Guru Pitka simply isn't appealing. We see people hanging on his every word and we wonder why. Obviously, Myers found the character funny, because he guffaws or mugs after everything that Pitka says. But, most of what comes from him isn't funny, but moronic. At this point, it's impossible to not compare the character to Austin Powers and there is a major difference; Austin Powers is a buffoon, so when he says something stupid, we laugh. In the reality of the film, Pitka is a known guru with followers who respect him, so when he says something stupid (which is constantly), we wonder what in the world is going on.

From the fact that the main character is unlikable, we jump into the bad news that the jokes are stale. Verne Troyer, Mini-me from Austin Powers, plays the coach of the Maple Leafs. He's short...and there are many jokes about that. OK... Pitka wears a chastity belt, and this becomes a running joke. The fact that Pitka can produce a book written by him on just about any topic is funny at first, but it quickly runs out of steam. Speaking of redundant jokes, it must have seemed like a great idea to have Pitka play the sitar and sing to Dolly Parton's "9 to 5" over the film's credits. (Although, when you think about it, other than the absurdity of it, the song has no place here.) A second popular song translated via sitar doesn't pack the same punch, but it's OK. But, when a third song gets the treatment, it becomes clear that Myers has run out of ideas. The movie reaches its low point when animals having sex is supposed to be funny.

According to reports, Mike Myers is a demanding control-freak. And based on his past successes, it can be assumed that this was something that people were willing to overlook. Well, judging by The Love Guru, Myers thinks that he is hilarious and he wanted to force that upon us. Too bad for us, as the movie is a complete let-down. There are a few laughs, but for the most part, viewers will sit, stone-faced, wondering why someone didn't stop Myers. The combination of Myers' off-beat sense of humor and a pedestrian story combine to create a mess. Guru Pitka may laugh at his own jokes, but he's the only one laughing.

The Love Guru attempts to give advice on DVD courtesy of Paramount Home Entertainment. The film has been letterboxed at 2.35:1 and the transfer is enhanced for 16 x 9 TVs. The image is sharp and clear, showing no grain, nor any defects from the source material. However, the picture is also soft and lacks in detail. Skin tones are somewhat waxy and there's an overall "flat" look to it. The colors look good however, as the film is loaded with many notable hues. The DVD carries a Dolby Digital 5.1 audio track. This track provides clear dialogue and sound effects. The stereo effects are fine here, but they don't show a great deal of detail. The track perks up somewhat during the hockey game scenes. The crowd noise fills the rear channels and the collisions on the ice provide some nice subwoofer thumps. Also, the in-film music shows impressive reproduction.

The Love Guru DVD features an assortment of extra features. "Mike Myers and The Love Guru - An Inside Look" (10 minutes) is a making-of featurette which offers comments from Myers, Alba, Troyer, and Director Marco Schnabel and on-set footage. We hear that Myers practiced the character in night clubs -- I wish that we could have seen that. We hear about the various characters and the actors share their thoughts on working with Myers. Special effecs artist Ron Stefaniuk shows us how an animatronic elephant and ostrich were built for the movie in "One Helluva Elephant" (6 minutes). "Hockey Training for Actors" (8 minutes) has sports coordinator Mark Ellis (who has been on more DVD extras than anyone else that I can think of) explaining how Romany Malco and the other actors learned to play hockey. The DVD contains 11 DELETED & EXTENDED SCENES which run about 14 minutes. There are a few interesting moments here, including an alternate ending, but nothing which would have made the movie any better. There is a 4-minute BLOOPERS reel. "Back in the Booth with Trent and Jay" (5 minutes) is a reel of deleted takes with Gaffigan and Colbert. There is some good stuff here. "Outtakes & More" (10 minutes) is a mixture of alternate takes and bloopers. Finally, we have the THEATRICAL TRAILER for The Love Guru, which is letteboxed at 2.35:1 and is 16 x 9.

Paramount Home Entertainment has also brought The Love Guru to Blu-ray Disc.  The film has been letterboxed at 2.35:1 and the Disc contains an AVC 1080p HD transfer which runs at an average of 30 Mbps.  The image is very sharp and clear, showing no grain and no defects from the source material.  One of the most striking things about this transfer are the colors -- bold and bright, they really stand out.  The colors are realistic and never over-saturated.  The image has a nice amount of detail, especially in close-ups and the depth in wider shots is very good.  The image is never overly dark or bright.  I detected no overt compression defects here.  The Disc has a Dolby TrueHD 5.1 audio track which runs at 48 kHz and an average of 4.0 Mbps.  This track delivers clear dialogue and sound effects.  The stereo effects here are very good, most notably when Pitka is performing in front of a crowd. The cheering at the hockey games fills the rear speakers, and the hits during these same games provides some nice subwoofer effects.  The in-film music, especially anything with a dance beat, sounds great, as it fills the speakers and provides good bass response.  Overall, this is a solid transfer.

The extras on the Blu-ray Disc are the same as those found on the DVD.

Review Copyright 2008 by Mike Long