Mike Myers has cunningly assured that theaters will be shaking with laughter throughout screenings of his new vehicle, The Love Guru. Unfortunately, much of that laughter will be emanating from the screen, as Myers' latest goofball creation has an irritating habit of giggling uproariously at his own smutty wisecracks. Guru nevertheless represents at least a tiny step up from Austin Powers In Goldmember, if only because it's blissfully short and Myers now has a new, slightly different set of stock bits and running gags to beat into the ground.
Myers, who also co-wrote the film, stars as the world's number-two guru, an ambitious striver who longs to get on Oprah and usurp rival Deepak Chopra's position as the king of fuzzy self-help mysticism. To help achieve that goal, Myers agrees to help broker a reconciliation between superstar hockey player Romany Malco and estranged wife Meagan Good, who has shacked up with Canadian joke/super-stud Justin Timberlake. Along the way, Myers learns valuable life lessons and begins a flirtation with team owner Jessica Alba, complicated by his vow of celibacy.
Myers remains a disciple of the pop-culture-reference-as-punchline school of comedy. To cite a particularly glaring example, at one point, Myers and his sidekick perform a version of Extreme's "More Than Words" that's filmed exactly like the original video, with no jokes or satire to get in the way. Myers' equally unfunny rendition of "9 To 5" at least has the decency to throw in some labored sight gags, but here and throughout the film, Myers seems to be going for nothing more than the cheap buzz of "Hey, I recognize that." In spite of their surface differences, the Austin Powers sequels and Guru share a common comic approach. Pop-culture riffing, winking double entendres, scatological humor, and silly names aren't just the foremost weapons in Myers' comic arsenal, they're all he's got. Myers combines his love of references, silly names, and mindless repetition by having his guru use "Mariska Hargitay" as a greeting/mantra. The first time it's employed, it's merely unfunny; by the 13th or 40th time, it's almost hypnotic in its awfulness. Then again, given Myers' love of the tried-and-true, maybe Guru's compulsive comic recycling and endless repetition are intentional.