It’s a dirty job, but someone’s gotta do it. Review movies like “The Love Guru,” that is. On second thought, there are no movies like this one. It’s in a shameful class all its own. After seeing the film, Rajan Zed, a prominent Hindu leader, has called for a worldwide boycott of the Mike Myers film by Hindus and other religious people. And I don’t blame him.
According to Rajan Zed, Hindus are for free speech as much as anybody else. He claims humor is “a part and parcel of Hindu society and our folk festivals, plays, stories, etc., are full of parody, satire, mimicry, buffoonery, etc. We are strong enough to take jokes. But there are certain convictions in every tradition, which are venerable and not meant to be mocked.”
Please don’t mistake The Love Guru for a satire like The Life of Brian, Monty Python’s classic religious comedy. Yes, Brian was also controversial, but it dealt with the subject in a loving and intelligent manner. Rajan Zed’s concern stems from his belief that belittling something sacred hurts the followers of a certain faith. “Today it is Hinduism, tomorrow Hollywood might attempt to denigrate another religion/denomination,” he explains.
It’s hard to argue with Rajan Zed. In The Love Guru, Guru Pitka, as portrayed by Mike Myers, stoops about as low as any movie character I’ve ever seen in order to get laughs. He uses penis jokes, scatological references and other crude humor continuously – most of which failed to evoke even a chuckle from viewers at the screening I attended. But there was much shaking of heads and groaning, especially during a scene showing elephants copulating and another depicting a fight with urine-soaked mops. In spite of all this, Guru Pitka calls himself “His Holiness.” No wonder Hindus view antics like these as mocking the true Hindu guru, a highly revered spiritual teacher who “helps remove the ignorance of the seeker and who leads one from darkness to light.”
In terms of his performance, Myers irritates instead of entertains by combining a hard-to-watch physical appearance with an annoying delivery of dialogue too silly for words. He does, however, offer a glimpse of what “could have been” in a couple of Bollywood-type musical numbers. And his character moves from being selfish (Pitka wants is to appear on Oprah’s TV show and be the next Deepak Chopra) to concern for others, which is a plus. After messing up his mission to help a star hockey player (Romany Malco) regain his skills on the ice, Pitka realizes he took a shortcut in order to further his own goals. He then tries to rectify this mistake at great cost to himself. That’s a sweet plot – so why muck it up with so much muck?
My condolences to Jessica Alba, Justin Timberlake, Ben Kingsley, Meagan Good, Jessica Simpson, Val Kilmer, Mariska Hargitay, Stephen Colbert, Verne Troyer, John Oliver, Deepak Chopra and everyone else who signed up for this dreadful project. It is, without a doubt, the worst movie so far this year.
(Released by Paramount Pictures and rated “PG-13” for crude and sexual content throughout, language, some comic violence and drug references.)
Review also posted at ReelTalk Movie Reviews.