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Reviews » DVD Video Reviews » The Love Guru
The Love Guru
Paramount // PG-13 // September 16, 2008
List Price: $34.98 [Buy now and save at Amazon]
Review by Michael Zupan | posted September 5, 2008 | E-mail the Author
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Mike Myers has been hibernating in a sound booth ever since the beginning of the Shrek franchise. If you've been waiting for him to return to live action, you may want to hold out until Austin Powers is resurrected. The Love Guru isn't a complete failure, but the laughs seem to be unbalanced and completely self-serving. What's even more disappointing is despite knowing what Myers is truly capable of; we only get to see high school brand sexual innuendos. In short, this film feels like it's a one trick pony.

Guru Pitka is ranked as the second best emotional healer in the world by hosting seminars, and writing ridiculously titled self help books such as, 'Stop Hitting Yourself, Stop Hitting Yourself, Why Are You Still Hitting Yourself'. He's offered the opportunity to appear on Opera, and that kind of publicity would guarantee him the number one spot. There's a catch, as there is with anything worth obtaining.

Before he can fulfill his dream as the world's top Guru, he needs to help Roanoke (Romany Malco), the number one player of the Toronto Maple Leafs, get back with his girlfriend. Roanoke's skills have taken a steep dive since they split. If he can't get his mind back into the game, the Leafs stand zero chance at winning the Stanley Cup. If Guru Pitka can bring success to the Maple Leafs by healing Roanoke's relationship, his own success will follow.

The Guru is met with obstacles of his own however, when a time constraint forces him to cut vital steps out of his program, which creates a distraction by chancing failure. He's distracted even further once he meets the beautiful Jane Bullard (Jessica Alba). His vow of celibacy is a problem that makes Pitka question if he'll ever be able to take advantage of true love himself. Even if he wanted to break his vow, he's strapped snugly in a chastity belt.

It's a straight forward, fairly predictable plot. The jokes are hit and miss and tend to decrease as the run time progresses. A lot of the comedy is all about saying things that sound dirty while hitting us with some entertaining celebrity cameos. For an example of what kind of jokes you're in for, Verne Troyer plays the part of Coach Cherkoff. It's blatantly obvious what they're trying to say with such a cleverly disguised name, no? These kinds of jokes are cute and fun in small doses, unfortunately this film slaps us upside the head with them throughout its entirety. I hate to keep comparing this film to Austin Powers but, can you blame me? We have the same kind of silly jokes, except they're not nearly as funny as they were in Austin Powers. That film had more contexts to base its jokes off of. Too often I felt like the jokes were a little gratuitous, even for Myers. It makes The Love Guru come off as a film that was done as a fun project to do as opposed to being the right project to do.

The main character seemed to be almost as unbalanced as the jokes were. At times he would be charming and extremely funny. At other times the character turned into a nut as an excuse to deliver some of the gratuitous jokes that did nothing more than fill some time.

Mike Myers acting was perfectly fine though. It's just unfortunate that the script wasn't given the care it deserved. I wanted something that would showcase the extreme talent Mike Myers has. It's the first film he's done in this capacity in some time, and it should have been something special. Not even some occasional cameo work from Steve Colbert could do it for me, and I like Steve Colbert! The only celebrity with a role that really made me chuckle was Justin Timberlake. Justin just goes out there to have a lot of fun, and it pays off. It's not the first time he's dabbled in acting, but it's the first time I've seen him act so bizarre for comical effect.

I sound completely negative with almost every aspect of the film, I know. There are definitely laughs to be found and the film is worth a viewing. It just plays it a little too safe and a little too simple to be memorable or worth a purchase.


Video

The video quality looks very good. Color reproduction was very nice. It looked very natural and a lot of yellow and gold colors that usually trimmed the Guru himself, never looked over-saturated. The skin tone never appeared to make anyone look cartoony. The picture wasn't soft and it never looked as if it were too sharp. Grain was very minimal. You'd be hard pressed to find anything worth complaining about when upconverted to 1080p. There was no noticeable blocking or edge enhancement either. All in all it's a great transfer. A lot of films like to try and 'wow' you with colors that pop. It's nice to see a film that didn't overstate its use of yellow or gold, as I find these colors to play tricks from time to time depending on how a film was transferred to disc.


Audio

The video wasn't overstated, so staying true to the discs forum, the audio isn't either. The rear channels are only there to provide the background noise when a scene calls for it. There's not a constant shuffling of noise in each scene to keep you engulfed in the experience. The bass doesn't really get a workout in this film, but it's never a necessity. The front channels do most of the heavy lifting and sound very good and offer a nice dynamic range. There's no audible pops or hisses to complain of. I'm sure what we have on DVD is accurate to the films intent, so my complaints are more about the sound mix not taking advantage of the audience, not the Dolby Digital 5.1 track itself. Also presented in Dolby 5.1 are tracks in French, and Spanish. Subtitles are available in English, French, and Spanish.


Extras

Mike Myers and The Love Guru - An Inside Look - Mike tells us what made him think this film was a great idea immediately. He has a great passion for eastern philosophy, and the Toronto Maple Leafs hockey organization. Jessica Alba chimes in and admits that although this is a very broad comedy, there's a lot of heart. Perhaps they didn't see the final cut of the film that I have in my hands? This feature runs at nine and a half minutes, and is basically a behind the scenes look combined with some cast interviews. Everyone seems to be very enthused to tell us about their chance to make the next live action Myers film, but it's a fairly uninformative feature.

One Helluva Elephant - At close to six minutes, this features shows us the mechanical half-elephant and ostrich that was created for certain scenes in the film. The work that was done to make it look at real as it does, is incredible. I do think it's unfortunate that one featurette is focusing on one minor aspect of the film, but it's more along the type of information I'm looking for behind the scenes.

Hockey Training for Actors - For eight minutes we're told about how The Love Guru is a movie with a great story that 'just happens' to have hockey in it. The main point in this feature is to show us what was involved in making sure the hockey scenes didn't look lame to the Canadian audience. It's more filler for the disc and not something I'd consider very interesting.

Deleted and Extended Scenes - Eleven clips are presented here, including an alternate ending. Some of them are truly throw away material, while others are just jokes that didn't make it into the final cut of the film. I wish I could say I understood why certain jokes weren't included in the final product, but the film already feels like it has too many jokes as it is. Some commentary would have been pretty nice to see why some of this stuff was cut or shortened.

Bloopers - We have three and a half minutes of bloopers, and they're actually pretty enjoyable. They're not amongst the humorous I've ever seen, but it's only a few minutes and you get to see all the fun that goes on while filming.

Back in the Booth with Trent and Jay - Jim Gaffigan and Steve Colbert play a couple of loose cannon sports announcers in the film. If you didn't get enough of them in the movie, there's five minutes of additional clips and bloopers that didn't make the final cut.

Outtakes and More - Some of the scenes in the movie had alternate takes that had some different lines or physical comedy being performed. The alternates are here, and there's ten minutes worth of them.

Also included are the theatrical trailer, and a coaster disc that offers a digital copy of The Love Guru. The only thing that doesn't seem to make an appearance on this disc is a commentary track for the film. One of the most important features has been left out. It's quite unfortunate because I'd love an explanation as to why this film ended up being so one dimensional.


Overall

Guru Pitka's attempt at healing me with spiritual laughter fell short of the mark. The Guru is a character I can forget about easily, because there's never a real sense of who he truly is. The jokes are on par with the kind of comedy that makes school girls giggle during study hall after hearing a dirty limerick. The story is one dimensional, predictable, and uninspired. The love building between Pitka and Bullard is practically ignored. When Colbert can't even make you laugh while delivering what's meant to be hilarious one liner, you know there was little attention paid to the script. I'm not trying to undermine Timberlake's acting 'ability', if you want to call it that, but when he's one of the most entertaining things to watch in a film with the role he had to play, maybe somebody needed to tell Myers to hold off on a comeback until he was ready to truly deliver the goods. The Love Guru was able to make me laugh from time to time. Unfortunately instead of giving us some good story in between the jokes that actually did work, we just keep getting more of the same over and over again. I could almost hear somebody whispering commentary into my ear: "That wasn't funny? How 'bout that. No? How about this one! Nah? How about this one?"

I'm not opposed to laughing non-stop for an hour and a half, the jokes just need to be able to work. I can't believe there isn't anyone, including Myers, which thought everything thrown at the audience was complete gold. I do oppose however, any mindset that believes that quantity is better than quality, which is exactly what we get with this film. If you're looking for a good way to kill an evening and have a few laughs (I chose my words very specifically there), then I suggest you rent this. Keep your savings to buy something else.
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