Comedy, by its very nature, is a fickle beast that can divide audiences, split critics, and pit brother against brother in heated debates that rage on for decades. However, every now and then, a film comes along that is so mind-numbingly dull, so uninspired, and so shameful that it boggles the imagination and makes one question the creative talent of everyone involved. This year, that film is ‘The Love Guru,’ an excruciatingly humorless waste of a production budget that makes ‘Meet the Spartans’ look like ‘No Country for Old Men’ and ‘Norbit’ look like ‘There Will Be Blood.’ Needless to say, this is going to be a short review.
’The Love Guru’ follows an inconceivably bland and obnoxious spiritualist named Pitka (Mike Myers) who -- brace yourselves -- is hired by the owner of the Toronto Maple Leafs, Jane Bullard (a terribly miscast Jessica Alba), to council her star player, Darren Roanoke (Romany Malco), through a personal crisis. As he comes to find out, Roanoke’s wife (Meagan Good) has been high-sticking a rival player, the aptly-named Jacques “Le Coq” Grande (Justin Timberlake). Pitka has to teach Roanoke how to sort out a variety of stress-related issues, help the Maple Leafs pull together a winning season, and learn to put his desire for fame aside to fulfill his true calling.
How far down into the comedic basement does ‘The Love Guru’ descend? Urine-soaked mops are used in a duel, lame sexual innuendos are pulled straight out of a canned ‘Austin Powers 4’ rough draft (complete with diminutive ‘90s tagalong, Verne Troyer), and elephants get it on… to benefit the plot. Don’t believe it could be that bad? In one tremendously dim-witted scene, Myers has the audacity to say, “give me a crocodile soup, and make it snappy.” The performances don’t help matters. Alba is once again a soft-skinned mannequin that works better in screen shots than feature films, Malco continually looks as if he knows exactly what sort of paycheck he’s cashing, and Timberlake seems to be the only one fighting to earn a few laughs. Unfortunately, the entire supporting cast goes down in flames alongside their fearless leader, a once-great comic god who has apparently become so distracted by animated ogres, that he forgot how to transform a five-minute sketch into a decent flick. As it stands, I don’t think our friend Pitka would even earn a hearty chuckle during a mediocre episode of Saturday Night Live.
And why, oh why, are so many fantastic actors and comedians squandered with such reckless abandon? Rookie director Marco Schnabel manages to knock the “Sir” right out of Ben Kingsley’s name, wastes the hilarious Stephen Colbert in a thankless cameo, and, for the first time, makes my man-crush Jim Gaffigan say things that aren’t remotely funny. He even hinders the droll subtlety of John Oliver’s hilarious schtick with a putrid series of lines that must have given the Brit a fair share of career panic attacks. Add to that a slew of celebs and notable notables -- Oprah Winfrey, Kanye West, Jessica Simpson, Val Kilmer, and Morgan Freeman, to name a few -- who only highlight the sheer monotony of the film. By tossing such talents at the screen, Schnabel inadvertently reminds us how pedestrian and impertinent his borderline-offensive film actually is.
Instead of satirizing pop-religion and modern spiritualism, poking fun at Hollywood’s fascination with Eastern mysticism, or cleverly skewering placebo medicines and shallow psychological treatments, ‘The Love Guru’ devolves into a rat-a-tat-tat assault of dick-n-fart jokes, brainless musical numbers, and slapstick miscues that simply fail to impress. I can count on one hand the number of times I cracked a smile during this film (this coming from the guy who enjoyed 'Balls of Fury'). This is, hands down, one of the most nonsensical, pointless, idiotic comedies I’ve come across in a long, long time. Save yourself the time, money, and effort -- this flick belongs on the shelf at Best Buy, not in your collection.
If the Blu-ray release of ‘The Love Guru’ has any redeemable trait, it’s that it features a sharp and colorful 1080p/AVC-encoded transfer which should satisfy any fanbase the film manages to assemble. Skintones are natural, primaries are bold, blacks are deep, and contrast is comfortable and attractive (albeit a bit overblown at times). Detail is excellent as well. Aside from some slight, possibly-intentional softness here and there, skin and clothing textures are sharp, objects are crisp and well defined, and depth is considerably three-dimensional. Better still, I didn’t detect any significant artifacting, meddlesome edge enhancement, or distracting source noise.
Since Paramount has recently subjected some of their high profile BD releases to gratuitous over-processing, I was on the lookout for the same unnecessary treatment here. Thankfully, while a few close-ups do look questionably waxy (a typical consequence of applying DNR), such smoother shots don’t occur at a frequency or intensity that should cause any alarm. At the end of the day, ‘The Love Guru’ at least looks the part -- the rest of the disc may not offer much value, but its technically sound video transfer is an easy one to praise.
’The Love Guru’ boasts a Dolby TrueHD 5.1 surround track, but you’d hardly be able to tell simply by listening to the average, front-heavy mix featured on the disc. Dialogue is as it should be -- clean, intelligible, and nicely prioritized within the remaining soundscape – however, there’s not much else to say about a bland and derivative lossless audio experience. LFE support is mediocre at best, the rear speakers fail to deliver any sort of immersive acoustics or realistic ambience, and dynamics are thin and, quite frankly, rather weak. Whether such shortcomings should be attributed to a lackluster technical mastering or to the film’s middling sound design is unclear. Regardless of the cause, I doubt anyone who manages to enjoy the film itself will be dissuaded by its poor design, lazy directionality, or altogether hollow sonic presentation.
’The Love Guru’ comes complete with all of the special features that make an appearance on the film’s standard DVD counterpart. While there isn’t any extensive or worthwhile material to be had, Paramount at least scores a compliment for presenting the video content in high definition.
’The Love Guru’ is a comedic anomaly. Unfunny, uninspired, unoriginal, and unintentionally unappealing, this underwhelming disappointment should be avoided at all costs. Still, if you insist on punishing yourself, this Blu-ray release overcomes a weak lossless audio track and a superficial supplemental package with an excellent video transfer. Unfortunately, the disc’s picture can’t save the film from itself. Rent this one if you must… but prepare yourself for the worst.