I had a revelation revealed to me recently. As I sat down and flicked through the channelsone fine anti-social evening, one of the main movie channels was showing ‘Scary Movie 4’. One of the ways in which I would practise my Korean would be to watch Western movies (which would invariably have Korean subtitles), and write the subtitles down as I go along. This is one way that I can get myself acquainted with new Korean words. Half of the time, I end up not using them (‘prison’ isn’t exactly a main ingredient of everyday conversation), but nevertheless, I persist, in the hope that they will stick around in my head sooner or later.
And so it was with ‘Scary Movie 4’. Pen in hand, eyes on the bottom third of the screen, I witnessed the scene in which the Tom Cruise spoof character placed his gun on the rim of his jeans, securing it around his waist. Two unexpected things happened. He accidentally shot himself in his nuts. “My balls,” he screamed. The other unexpected thing was that I laughed hard at this, surprisingly so. I considered describing it as ‘long and hard’, but it wasn’t long, for soon enough, he would accidentally shoot himself in the ass as well. At this point, I also laughed my own ass off.
After carefully putting it back on, I sat down and relatively enjoyed the rest of the show. I call this a revelation, because after the first ‘Scary Movie’, I wasn’t particularly taken by the subsequent efforts. With time, I outgrew the entire spoof/slapstick genre altogether, with each such film striking me more as stupid rather than enjoyable.
I mention all of this, because although Mike Myers’s ‘The Love Guru’ is not exactly the same as ‘Scary Movie’, it is still very much a film of incredible slapstick and goofing proportions. It got a lot more press as a film that insults a fair amount of people (especially Hindus). Reading the blurb, you would be forgiven for thinking the same way, however.
Mike Myers himself plays Guru Maurice Pitka, a man who devotes his life to helping others better themselves. He, however, is overcome with the insane desire to displace Deepak Chopra and become the number 1 guru himself…and to appear on the Oprah Winfrey show. Thus, when the problem of Darren Roanoke (Romany Malco) falls into his crossed-legged laps, he sees it as the chance to be able to repair Roanoke’s career and propel his own at the same time. But what exactly is his problem? Well, his wife, Prudence, (Meagan Good) left him for Jacques “Le Coq” Grande (an almost unrecognisable Justin Timberlake). The stress from losing his wife to his biggest rival causes his hands to shake. And in hockey…the hands aren’t supposed to shake.
He himself is hired by Jane Bullard (Jessica Alba), the owner of the hockey team, to help out Roanoke. However, Bullard himself couldn’t help but to quickly and surely fall in love with Jane (who wouldn’t 🙂 ). Nevertheless, he must resist the temptation and lead Roanoke back on the right path…or could he? With a chastity belt on from a young age, he couldn’t well do much about it, but he couldn’t stop his feelings for her regardless.
I had mentioned earlier that’s it’s not so much a spoof as others are. Though I still mean it, I guess when it comes down to it, it has been a while since I last saw a Mike Myers’s film that is not a spoof. That trend continues here, as he continuously mocks (in a good way) ‘Law & Order’. I quite like the shows myself (especially the ‘Special Victims Unit’ spin-off), and I totally get all of that. That’s the unfortunate double-edge sword that is spoof comedies: you’ll get it if you’re in tune with the subject matter at hand, but if you’re not, you would be completely lost at sea. Thus, the parade of celebrities that was…err, paraded for this film would have made for a sumptuous dinner for some, but would amount to little more than Big Macs to break fast with for others (even if I do know who Val Kilmer and Kanye West are). Not satisfying at all.
The majority of the time, however, is spent telling rather juvenile jokes (in case you didn’t know it beforehand, this is a Mike Myers film). This it seriously risks crossing the line between ‘funny’ and ‘overdone’. His mentor’s name, for example, is Guru Tugginmypudha (played by the one and only Sir Ben Kingsley). Another guru who makes an appearance in the film is Guru Satchabigknoba. Neither is it limited to Hindu characters; Jacques “Le Coq” Grande wasn’t called that because he has a big, male chicken (although, as it turns out, he did). “If your Uncle Jack helped you off an elephant, would you help your Uncle jack off an elephant?” was amongst some of the gems offered, while if that didn’t tickle your fancy, there are plenty of other such jokes that probably would.
Key word here is ‘probably’. What would be needed in order for the ‘probably’ to become a reality? Well, an appropriate sense of humour, the right mood to watch something silly, and an almost-undying love for everything Mike Myers. When all these factors are as aligned as the moon and the stars are, then you’ll be in for a decent, fun-ish time peppered with a fair amount of laughter. Chances are, however, that the stars won’t be as aligned, and you might find it…well, not funny. Saying ‘Mariska Hargitay’ as a greeting, for example, is fun initially, but after the 50th time, you wonder whether you have it in you to even barely smile at it. And that is the main issue that I have with the film: the endless variation of the same jokes over and over again. It gets a bit mechanical after that, and not funny at all. And for the thin-skinned amongst you…don’t even bother. There is nothing anti-Hindu about this film at all, but if you’re a sensitive Hindu, you’re not likely to think of it that way.
Having said that, I have no issues on that front whatsoever. The only issue I have is the lack of truly original jokes and ideas after half the film have gone. Nevertheless, the stars did align enough for me. I do get the jokes, and did find the “Uncle Jack off an elephant” hilarious. As an added bonus, John Oliver (from ‘The Daily Show’) and Stephen Colbert also makes appearances (oh, what would I ever do without ‘The Daily Show’ and ‘The Colbert Report’… 🙂 ). I did enjoy it enough to say that you probably will too.
Fikri loves Tuesdays because of ‘The Colbert Report’, ‘The Daily Show’, and ‘Monday Night RAW’.