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Reviews » DVD Video Reviews » The Guru
The Guru
Universal // R // June 3, 2003
List Price: $26.98 [Buy now and save at Amazon]
Review by Aaron Beierle | posted May 29, 2003 | E-mail the Author
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The Movie:


"The Guru" came out earlier this year, accompanied by little in the way of advertising and a fairly small screen count. Happening upon the film one day, I found it unexpectedly enjoyable - it's one of those movies that walks the between being unintentionally and intentionally funny, but its goofiness often charms and its sweet, energetic nature eventually won me over.

The film stars Jimi Mistry ("East is East") as Ramu, an Indian determined to leave for America to persue his dreams of being an actor and a dancer. Although his family seems skeptical, Ramu departs from Bombay for New York City with dreams of a better life. When he arrives, however, he finds that things aren't exactly what he thought they'd be and instant fame isn't a reality. His first acting audition turns out to be - unknown to him - for an adult film. Although things don't turn out well, he meets Sharonna (Heather Graham), an actress who shares with him her philosophies about life and love.

When Ramu substitutes for a Guru who passed out while at a party, he offers Sharonna's philosophies, which go over so well that the socialite's daughter, Lexi (Marisa Tomei) wants to turn him into a global sensation. Soon enough, he's become famous as the Guru of Sex, even giving a lecture on Broadway. Meanwhile, he's falling for Sharonna, who's engaged to a man who has no idea she's an adult actress. She also doesn't know that he's using her to become famous.

The film's performances are quite good. This is one of Marisa Tomei's finest recent performances, perfectly portraying the rich socialite who's trying to find herself everywhere but within. It's potentially an intensely unlikable character, but Tomei plays it innocently and with good timing. Mistry is also quite funny, with good timing and a fine idea of how to play both the absurdity and occasional drama. Graham has a fairly standard role and has some moments of rather iffy acting in a couple of crying scenes, but like the rest of the movie, she's sweet and fun (and can dance pretty well). That, and cinematographer John De Borman lights her well and she looks more beautiful here than she usually does. Ajay Naidu ("Office Space"), Michael McKean (as an adult film director who says, while leading Sharonna down the aisle, "I'm so proud of you. This whole thing has made me want to go back to documentaries.") and Christine Baranski provide fine supporting performances. Speaking of cinematographer John De Borman, his work here is wonderful; New York is really a character here, as well.

The picture hits new heights with its few musical sequences, which are energetic and enjoyable mixtures of Indian and American - especially one dream sequence where a Bollywood musical suddenly works in a number from "Grease". The comedy largely works and there's a few terribly funny lines perfectly spaced throughout most of the film's zippy, well-paced 94 minutes. Although "The Guru" won't end up on my top 10 list for 2003, I still think it's one of the more entertaining romantic comedies I've seen in recent memory.


The DVD

VIDEO: "The Guru" is presented by Universal Studios in 1.85:1 anamorphic widescreen. The picture is awfully rich in terms of its color palette, with deep, rich reds often present and other eye-popping colors often visible, especially in the Bollywood/Hollywood fantasy dance sequence. The transfer could've messed up this aspect, but colors look terrific throughout, with excellent saturation and no concerns.

Sharpness and detail are quite good, too. The picture looks crisp and clear throughout, with consistent definition and nice depth. There are a few concerns though, which is too bad - noticable edge enhancement is present in a few scenes, as are a few minor print flaws. Although these flaws aren't terribly distracting, it's too bad they take away from an otherwise nice transfer.

SOUND: "The Guru" is presented in Dolby Digital and DTS 5.1. The film's audio is generally "comedy"-style, with the majority of the sound coming from the front speakers. The surrounds kick in with some light reinforcement for the music, but that's about it - there's little ambience or anything else. The musical numbers have a nice kick, though, and audio quality overall is very pleasing. The DD and DTS soundtracks sounded very similar, if not the same.

EXTRAS:

Commentaries: The DVD includes two commentaries - one from director Daisy Von Scherler Mayer and writer Tracey Jackson and the other from actor Jimi Mistry. The director/writter commentary is generally fun, as the two energetically chat about the merger of styles, working with the actors and the general production. There's some moments where the two fall into talking about how wonderful everyone is, but otherwise, the track is largely informative and entertaining. Mistry's comments come in-between some fairly sizable gaps of silence on his track, but he does provide some insights on the role and stories from the set.

Also: 9 minutes of deleted scenes, teaser trailer, theatrical trailer.

Final Thoughts: "The Guru" is sweet, silly and often quite funny. It plays the goofiness just right and I found it to be quite entertaining. Universal's DVD offers very good audio/video quality, along with a few nice supplements. Recommended, at least as a rental.

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