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Sunday, June 22, 2008

Love Guru (The)

I was very reticent to go see The Love Guru because that’s a title that many people used to describe me back in the day, Dear Readers. Oh, believe me, it was as much a curse as it was a bit of flattery, and it wasn’t something I necessarily wanted then or needed to be reminded of now.

It started early with me. My father was working on the picture Cleopatra when I was just a nipper, around seven or eight. I may have been small, but I wasn’t stupid. I’d stand in the wings of the set and watch the action during and between the scenes and I could see what needed to be done. Now contrary to popular belief, Elizabeth Taylor was quite shy even though she had already been married four times. As most of you know, Ms. Taylor has had a life full of addictions and it was as a result of those four marriages that she had already picked up another uncontrollable craving, and the only thing that was going to satisfy that was Dick. So I went to Richard Burton’s dressing room and innocently told him that Miss Taylor was so enamored of him she wanted him to drop by her
trailer and autograph her original soundtrack recording of Camelot, which he had starred in on Broadway two years earlier. I figured chemistry (and vodka) would take care of the rest, and it did. Within the year Liz and Dick were husband and wife. As a matter of fact, they enjoyed it so much, they divorced after a while and married again a few spouses later just for the heck of it. That Liz. She never could get enough Dick.

Since then, there have been hundreds of success stories, most couples you’ve never heard of, but there are a few stars who sparkle in the heavens. I brought Whitney Houston and Bobby Brown together and look at how well that worked! Now there was a rollicking, long-time love match. And who do you think introduced that rascally Charlie Sheen to the barely noticeable Playboy bunny Denise Richards? They’ve both come out on top. He’s got “Two and a Half Men” and she’s got her reality series on E! and all of his money to boot.

Now I don’t want it sound like I’m bragging. It’s true, I’ve got a gift, but sometimes there have been problems. You think it is easy having people constantly remind me that just because I casually introduced Brad to Angelina it’s my fault Jennifer Aniston has spent the past four years in a suicidal funk? I can’t control the power of the Jolie. Social scientists have already proven she has a man-trapping vaginortex and nobody with a drop of testosterone in their body is safe. Nothing this side of God can stop Jolie’s vaginortex. It’s like a man magnet and just sucks helpless men in as soon as they are within range. Most troublesome though have been the ones who wanted my help and were simply beyond even my powers of persuasion, those who eventually led me to flee the Hollywood hills and hide out here amongst the Green Mountains. I mean, really, do even you think you could find a girlfriend for Ryan Seacrest or Clay Aiken? One without a penis, I mean.

Fortunately for Mike Myers (Austin Powers in Goldmember), that is one dilemma he doesn’t face in his movie called
The Love Guru, but, then again, he co-authored the script along with Graham Gordy (War Eagle, Arkansas), so he could avoid that pitfall. In The Love Guru, Myers plays Pitka, an American raised in India since childhood, who is now a self-help expert second in fame only to Deepak Chopra, his former childhood playmate.

Pitka is hired by Jane Bullard (Jessica Alba; The Eye), a young woman who inherited ownership of the Toronto Maple Leafs Hockey Team when her father died in 2005. She now finds herself being considered a curse to the team since it has been in a slump for the entire season and she wants Guru Pitka to fix their main problem: their number one player, Darren Roanoke (Romany Malco; tv’s “Weeds”), is off his game because his wife has dumped him for the notoriously well-endowed French Canadian player Jacques Grande (Justin Timberlake; Shrek the Third). Jane believes the Maple Leafs have a shot at the Stanley Cup, but only if Darren and Prudence (Meagan Good; One Missed Call) get their groove on, so Pitka has to work overtime to do his magic, which is no easy task.

The film is utterly chock full of the worst puns and jokes you’ll hear all year, which isn’t to say you won’t laugh, but a lot of the guffaws come with groans attached. The village in India where Pitka comes from is the pitifully named Hareonmykeister. His “sacred” greeting/blessing to his followers is “Mariskahargitay” which is not even silly in the painfully dumb scene in which he meets ~ you guessed it ~ actress Mariska Hargitay.

That’s one of the most amazing things about
The Love Guru. It is an appalling embarrassment of bad taste, something John Waters would be proud to call his own, and yet Myers’ star power alone has lured a cadre of A-list celebs to appear in various capacities. Comedians Steven Colbert (tv’s “The Colbert Report”) and Jim Gaffigan (tv’s “My Boys”) are on hand as two of the strangest sportscasters you can imagine, Ben Kingsley (The Last Legion) shows up as Pitka’s cross-eyed teacher Guru Tugginmypudha, “The Daily Show”s John Oliver makes an extended appearance as Pitka’s agent, Dick Pants, and, of course, Myers’ favorite "Mini Me" Vern Troyer (Austin Powers in Goldmember) shows up as the team’s Coach Punch Cherkov. Even Jessica Simpson, Kanye West, and Val Kilmer wander through looking for some face time. Thank God Kanye didn’t throw one of his patented hissy fits while he was at it.

And speaking of hissy fits, is there anyone who gives one better than Telma Hopkins? Most people will recognize Telma from her days on tv’s “Bosom Buddies” back in the ‘80s, “Family Matters” in the ‘90s, or “Half & Half” in the last couple of years. If you’re ancient, you’ll remember her as 1/3 of the singing group Dawn, before it became Tony Orlando and Dawn. Ooooh, I’d have loved to have heard the hissy fit that went down when Tony proposed that change, and, Honey, you just know it was his idea. Anyway, Telma is great playing the hard-ass type and she does it spectacularly well here as Lillian Roanoke, Darren’s mother. Besides reuniting Prudence and Darren, Pitka has to also steel Darren to finally, for the first time in his life, stand up to his domineering Mama. You see, the reason Darren plays hockey and not football or basketball is because, well, isn’t it obvious, his mother is the type to bust any balls he might have. Only when he can set her straight that he is not going to take any more of her browbeating, then he can have the confidence to tell her to puck off and take that same puck and win the Stanley Cup.

If this all sounds a bit of a mess, you don’t know the half of it. There are other bits including the requisite sub-plot involving Jane and Pitka’s blooming romance, Pitka’s problematic life-long commitment to wearing a chastity belt, and the grand finale, which includes the sexual congress of two elephants on the ice in the middle of the Air Canada Centre in Toronto during the closing seconds of the Stanley Cup. It’s enough to bring a tear of national pride to any good Canadian.

One thing I can be glad of. After
The Love Guru, my past reputation as such will no doubt be forgotten and this pickle of a plum will be what people will remember for years to come. I’m not sure whether that is good or bad, but from the size of the crowd that happened to be filling the theater at the Essex Cinemas on the bright Sunday afternoon at the time I arrived is any indication of public opinion then there is obviously good word-of-mouth going around for what is obviously bad taste. Decide for yourself. Me? I enjoy a little bad taste once in awhile, not that you’d ever guess, I’m sure.

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