Pop the cork off a bottle of Mike Myers comedy; unscrew the lid from a jar of Bollywood musical logic; open a can of sports-inspirationals; and remove the seal from a bag of pop-cultural references. Dump all of the contents into your favorite stainless steel bowl and stir, stir, stir. When everything is nicely blended, you’ve got a mostly tasty snack called “The Love Guru.” It will curb your craving for laughs and won’t leave you consuming more than is necessary.
Directed by Marco Schnabel and written by Mike Myers and Graham Gordy, “The Love Guru” is about the Toronto Maple Leafs, a hockey team that desperately wants to win the Stanley Cup. The owner, Jane Bullard (Jessica Alba) hires Guru Pitka (Myers) to advise and help Darren Roanoke (Romany Malco) get his athletic skills back on track. In order for it to happen, Darren has to convince his special lady friend Prudence (Meagan Good) to forgive him for an indiscretion he committed. Without her support, his self-confidence is shot to hell, the Maple Leafs won’t win, and the whole city will continue to hate Jane and the Bullard name for thirty-five years of zero championships.
If the film sounds too much like a sports film for your taste, worry not, my friend. “The Love Guru” utilizes the sports-inspirational as a narrative foundation, but the plot involves more than making sure Toronto beats Jacques ‘Le Coq’ Grande (a mustached Justin Timberlake) and his L.A. Kings teammates. Along with Bollywood-styled sequences, the film also integrates a wealth of puns and other verbal jokes that evoke the character of Austin Powers as well as the myriad observations that Mike Myers, as a comedian, would make on a daily basis.
While “The Love Guru” is not a genre parody, it operates like one in that a handful of the intensely comedic moments require a recognition, if not complete comprehension, of the meaning of an intertextual scene. Using “Mariska Hargitay” (the name) as a greeting is probably not going to be as funny to the movie-goer that doesn’t watch Law & Order: SVU. Anyone that has not seen either “Austin Powers: The Spy Who Shagged Me” or “Austin Powers in Goldmember” can certainly be entertained by Verne Troyer’s acerbic one-liners, but without knowing the link to the character of “Mini-Me,” it would not be as satisfying. Furthermore, if the band Extreme and the song “More Than Words” do not ring any bells, then the brilliance of the sitar-guitar performance that Guru Pitka and his assistant Rajneesh (Manu Narayan) put on may not hit all the way home. The ostensible randomness of it and other intertextual jokes could be enough to get you smiling, and huffing a “ha-ha” every now and again.
To be sure, “The Love Guru” is incredibly funny. Side-splitting laughter only stops when the movie does, so don’t expect it to linger all the way to the parking lot.