'Guru': Myers Doesn't Have All the Answers

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Friday, June 20, 2008

Mike Myers is anti-comedy . . . that is, if one presumes comedy ought to be smart, new, surprising or, yes, funny. This isn't an accusation. It has been Myers's shtick for a long time: jokes that don't work, bad jokes, lame jokes, jokes that are 40 years old and jokes told by characters we should feel sorry for -- the chronically adolescent hero of "Wayne's World," for instance, or the deluded hipster of the "Austin Powers" films. Losers lacking Chaplinesque pathos. Misshapen social cogs without the virtue of an interesting angle.

In short, Myers's oeuvre is about sympathy laughs, although it's not his onscreen persona we feel sorry for in "The Love Guru." It is, at long last, Myers himself.

In guru Pitka, half swami, half con man, he hasn't cooked up a character nearly as memorable as Dr. Evil, Linda Richman or Shrek (his best creation). He laughs at his own jokes far more than anyone in the audience ever will.

The results are a wheezy, tired attempt to milk more laughs out of the '60s, by doing exactly what "Austin Powers" did: collect cultural references from the period, run them through a wringer of self-satisfaction and -- presto, change-o -- cultural satire. Although satire seems a strong word for something so insignificant. Call it cultural ridicule, of an era with which Myers is clearly obsessed. Go figure.

The sad thing is, "The Love Guru" will probably makes upward of $20 million its opening weekend, before falling like rain in a Bollywood musical. Let us give thanks to Krishna that "Love Guru II" is at this point only a gleam in a studio executive's third eye.

-- John Anderson

The Love Guru PG-13, 88 minutes Contains crude humor, sexual situations, drug references, violence and vulgarity. Area theaters. The Love Guru PG-13, 88 minutes Contains crude humor, sexual situations, drug references, violence and vulgarity. Area theaters.


© 2008 The Washington Post Company

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