A lot or a little?
The parents' guide to what's in this movie.
What parents need to know
Parents need to know that the many kids who like Austin Powers are going to be eager to see Mike Myers' latest ribald comedy about a wacky, catchphrase-spouting character in goofy makeup who enjoys vulgar misadventures before finally managing to triumph (especially since it costars Jessica Alba and Justin Timberlake). But this movie has a coarser feel than the Powers trio. The language and sexual innuendoes are constant, unsubtle, and over the top (expect everything from an elephant pooping on screen to references to masturbation and oral sex); there are drinking and drug references; and products and brand names are almost as prevalent as Myers' cheeky grin. That's a whole lot of iffy content to sit through for only a few laughs.
- Parents say
- Kids say
What's the story?
In THE LOVE GURU, Mike Myers plays Guru Pitka, a self-help expert whose mystical and mischievous teachings on love and sex have made him second only to Deepak Chopra in the self-help world. Looking for the big gig that will push him to number one, Pitka takes on the job of repairing the damaged relationship between star hockey player Darren Roanoke (Romany Malco) and his ex-girlfriend -- she left him for a rival goalie, which has thrown off Darren's game and is endangering the team's chances in the playoffs. As a potential romance blooms between Pitka and the team's owner, Jane (Jessica Alba), Pitka takes shortcuts to helping Darren. Will he do the right thing and sacrifice the trappings of success to truly succeed?
Is it any good?
For all of The Love Guru's attempts at positive messages, there's a lot of crude comedy to sit through. And while it's hard to say quantitatively whether the film is more or less crude than the Austin Powers films, The Love Guru is certainly less funny. Making fun of self-help is one thing, but Myers wants to pass on wisdom as well as make jokes about passing gas; the movie somehow feels childishly rude and curiously smug at the same time. The problem isn't that Pitka is too much of a departure from Austin Powers -- the problem, in many ways, is that Pitka isn't, from his sex-obsessed ways to his catchphrases to his silly self-confidence.
The Love Guru has a few bright spots -- there are some fun, silly musical numbers, and Stephen Colbert's woozy, boozy sports announcer is always good for a laugh. But those moments are few and far between, and anytime the movie builds up any amount of goodwill on viewers' part, it squanders it with an unfunny excrement or urine joke. Myers has entered the same realm of success as Adam Sandler -- the comedy-killing career "high" where you've made so much money that no one will dare tell you how you might make a better movie -- and the self-satisfied air of The Love Guru is an inevitable byproduct. The Love Guru wants to be smutty and funny, naughty and virtuous; it's a balancing act that Myers simply can't pull off.
Talk to your kids about ...
Families can talk about the appeal of Mike Myers' over-the-top characters and broad comedic style. What makes characters like Austin Powers and Guru Pitka funny? Are they affectionate caricatures or stereotyped cartoons? Are we expected to laugh at Pitka because he says funny things or because his dress and accent are "funny" to Western eyes and ears? Do you think Myers' portrayal of Pitka is racist? And do you think Pitka's positive messages come through amid all of the fistfights, urine jokes, and sex comedy? Is the message more important than the medium, or is the movie's feel-good philosophy a way to try to dignify lowbrow comedy?
- In theaters: June 20, 2008
- On DVD or streaming: September 15, 2008
- Cast: Jessica Alba, Justin Timberlake, Mike Myers
- Director: Marco Schnabel
- Studio: Paramount Pictures
- Genre: Comedy
- Run time: 90 minutes
- MPAA rating: PG-13
- MPAA explanation: crude and sexual content throughout, language, some comic violence and drug references.
- Last updated: September 21, 2019
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