Published June 18, 2008
Say what you will about Mike Myers, but he is a loyal fellow. In "The Love Guru," he’s given Verne Troyer, the diminutive actor who memorably played Mini-Me in the "Austin Powers" movies, a sizeable role.
On the other hand, he didn’t entice back director Jay Roach, so he’s had to settle for Roach’s second in command, Marco Schnabel. Unfortunately, this isn’t Julian Schnabel, or even Roach, and it shows. "The Love Guru" is one uneven piece of work.
It’s also incredibly gross, with Myers matching Adam Sandler’s "Zohan" for every scatological joke he can think up. There are plenty in "Love Guru," more than even a 12-year-old can stomach, mostly involving feces and urine. It’s mostly yuck, without the yucks.
Of course, that’s the whole idea. And "Love Guru," which sure doesn’t look very expensive, probably will have a big first weekend and a nice life on DVD and cable. But is it "Austin Powers" or even "Wayne’s World"? For all of its original ideas, "Love Guru" is neither of these concepts. It’s so thin sometimes it’s as threadbare as the motorized rug on which the Guru often rides.
Myers has one keen thing here, though. His Guru Pitka — dubbed "the poor man’s Deepak Chopra" — runs a cult-like self-awareness group that lampoons Madonna’s Kabbalah as well as Oprah’s Eckhart Tolle fanaticism.
Pitka is full of aphorisms and anagrams, and most of them are a hoot. For example, "Intimacy" really sounds out like "into me, see?" You can read the rest of them on Myers’ very funny Web site — maybe funnier than the movie — at thegurupitka.com.
Some of Myers’ ideas are half-cooked, and some are just annoying. Guru Pitka’s use of "Mariska Hargitay" as a Hindu greeting is funny only the first 10 times. Once Hargitay, herself, makes a cameo, they have retired the joke.
There are other cameos, too, in this summer of walk-ons: Jessica Simpson wanders through, and so does Kanye West. Justin Timberlake is another one-note joke that goes on and on as he "plays" a villainous hockey star to the movie’s hockey hero, the very good Romany Malaco from "Weeds."
What’s happened to Myers remains a very good question. Sailing, and on top of his game with "Austin Powers," he kind of lost it along the way. He divorced his wife of 12 years, Robin, the daughter of the beloved "Coffee Talk" lady Linda Richman, who’d become his great character.
Just as Austin lost his mojo, Myers seemed to lose his sense of humor. Even the best bits in "Love Guru" feel forced and executed without the good nature of the past.
Still, there’s just enough of the old Mike Myers to keep "The Love Guru" pushing to its inevitable, not-a-moment-too-soon conclusion. He has the cult thing down. And he also nails Oprah Winfrey, and the desire by everyone else in the media to get on her show to grab success and approbation.
He’s written a nice bit for Stephen Colbert as a drug-addled Pat O’Brien-type announcer. So all of that is good and suggests that with "The Love Guru" out of his system, Myers could return to form.
But how does "The Love Guru" compare with "Get Smart" for the weekend box office? Neither of them sets a high water mark for comedy greatness.
"Get Smart" comes with a built-in nostalgia and a little of the Buck Henry-Mel Brooks genius to goose the older fans. To go with Myers means committing to a totally original idea that ebbs and flows. It’s an even match, I think. See them both or don’t see them at all.
Warner's Stock Dives but Lyor's OK
Warner M. Group fans will be interested to know that the former music company’s stock kicked off the day on Tuesday at $8.40, hit a daily low of $7.98 and rebounded to $8.01.
Maybe this was on the news that Lyor Cohen, who — ahem — runs the company, had decided to face declining sales and lack of developing artists by purchasing a $6.8 million tear-down in the Hamptons while taking his current $9.5 million home off the market.
Using the same business savvy that’s made Warner M. Group such a resounding success, Cohen actually bid "up" on the property, which was listed at $5.5 million, according to the New York Post.
This news will come as a relief to Cohen groupies who perhaps feared his housing wasn’t up to snuff. How it is for WMG stockholders and investors, the hundreds of people who’ve been laid off or the artists who’ve been consigned to purgatory remains to be seen.
John Crowley’s exceptional film, "Boy A" starring Andrew Garfield, finally is set to open on July 23. So far, the release looks like it’s limited to art houses like Film Forum in New York and NuArt in Los Angeles. I hope it gets beyond that quickly.
Garfield gives a gorgeous performance and the film is the kind that many adults might be seeking out in desperation by July 23 after weeks of penis jokes and splattered bodily fluids. …
This column may have been first to tell you what was happening with New Line Cinema’s Michael Lynne and Bob Shaye. I wrote on June 6: "… Time Warner has shut down and 'absorbed' New Line Cinema, the best movie-making part of the company. Never fear, though, New Line is not completely dead. Out of its ashes will rise a production company fronted by New Line founders Bob Shaye and Michael Lynne.
"The pair is making a deal, I am told, with Time Warner, at least for the time being. In the current precarious economy, Lynne and Shaye are said to be more comfortable staying close to home rather than schlepping around the world looking for money.
"My bet is that in 18 months, after a global turnaround and one or two hits, the pair will launch into something even bigger. They’re responsible for 'Lord of the Rings,' 'Rush Hour' 1-3 and dozens of hits up to and including 'Sex and the City: The Movie.'"
The new season of Shakespeare in the Park kicked off Tuesday night at the Delacorte Theater with "Hamlet" and a bevy of A-listers including Mike Nichols and Diane Sawyer, Cynthia Nixon, Alec Baldwin, Kathleen Turner, Ethan Hawke, Andie MacDowell as well as New York Times publisher Arthur Sulzberger Jr. and writer Nick Pileggi. Meryl Streep was expected but hadn’t arrived by the time I left to see "The Love Guru," which was Hamlet’s nickname, I’m told, given to him by Yorick. Alas. …
It’s Paul McCartney’s 66th birthday. Many congrats to the once and always Beatle. He’ll be on hand to celebrate the Grammy Foundation salute to Beatle producer George Martin next month in Los Angeles. …
Don’t miss if you're in New York: The amazing Stevie Wonder plays Jones Beach on Long Island Wednesday night. ...
Thursday night’s Songwriters Hall of Fame gala at the Marriott Marquis has raised an astounding $10 million. President Linda Moran has managed to get blood out of a stone, namely the ailing music biz. You can bid on one-of-a-kind items for the SHOF at charitybuzz.com. …