As I hinted in my conversation with Romany Malco, the commercials and trailers leading up to the film's release made this movie look about as appealing as a root canal from a hack Catskills comedian. Perhaps it was due to low expectations, but the crowd I saw it with here in D.C. laughed hard and laughed often. So did I, admittedly. The comedy's all anatomical, juvenile stuff that makes MAD Magazine read like Jean-Paul Sartre. But I love MAD Magazine, and one out of every three phallus-obsessed jokes in the movie worked. (Considering there are about 3,000 of them, that's a decent ratio.)
It's all silly wordplay and dated references and at least three musical numbers; if you're a Mike Myers fan, you'll go with some of it, because it feels like a greatest hits collection of trusted gags. Hell, there's even a "Bohemian Rhapsody" reference.
You know the score: Guru Pikta (Myers) wants to surpass Deepak Chopra in celebrity, so he takes an offer from the owner of the Toronto Maple Leafs (Jessica Alba) to get star player Darren Roanoke (Romany Malco) back with his girl, who has been swept away by rival Jacques "Le Coq" Grande (Justin Timberlake) of the Los Angeles Kings. It's a disjointed, forced narrative carried on the backs of ancient one-liners, a slew of midget jokes, and that twinkle-eyed, "Yeah baby!" look Mike Myers gives the camera after every punchline. If you find yourself immune to any of those charms, then "The Love Guru" probably isn't your bowl of Vindaloo.
But the reason you've been reading about "The Love Guru" here is because it is, allegedly, a hockey movie. Which, turns out, it isn't.
It's a hockey movie in the sense that "Sudden Death" is a hockey movie, where the sport clearly just provides props and sets for whatever the hell it was Jean-Claude Van Damme and Mike Myers were trying to accomplish. While no one was expecting "Miracle"-like Cinéma-Vérité, puckheads were at least expecting "The Love Guru" to play to the hockey smarts in the crowd -- especially with the NHL's blessings and Myers's unabashed love for the game.
The best it does is evoking the Ballard Curse for the Leafs; making Alba's owner character so hated that the arena has actually painted lines to show her where the Toronto fans can and can't see her to boo her. Cute, but there are still five undeniable crimes against hockey fans in this movie that will surely turn off any puckhead who sees it:
1. The Stanley Cup finals are reformatted. The Los Angeles Kings and Toronto Maple Leafs play a 2-3-2 series in the finals for an unknown reason. Is this some sneaky attempt at subliminal suggestion from the NHL?
2. Rob Blake plays center. In one of the film's most critical moments, Rob Blake of the Los Angeles Kings takes a face-off at center ice against Roanoke. We assume the NHL defenseman is actually playing a center for the Kings in the movie, because the odds that four other guys were tossed from the circle are pretty slim.
3. Multi-game suspensions handed out on the ice. A huge brawl results in a referee telling Malco's character that he just earned himself a one-game suspension from the finals. When the battle continues, the ref tells him he's just earned another game. If only the wheels of justice were really that lubricated in the NHL.
4. The clock runs on a penalty shot. I'm not sure what's more egregious: That the clock runs out to end the game after a climactic penalty shot, or that we're supposed to believe the referees would actually call one with the Cup on the line seconds before overtime in a Game 7. (Not that we expect a scholarly level of accuracy here, considering two elephants come out on the ice during the shot attempt and ... well, yeah.)
5. Finally, the Leafs actually win the Stanley Cup. Spoiler warning? Not when Bob Probert blew the ending about a week before "The Love Guru" was released.
So a disappointing movie, but one with a few solid chuckles. The best hockey-related thing about the flick is comedian Jim Gaffigan as a "Hockey Night in Canada" announcer (yes, you hear the theme song). His partner Stephen Colbert is given some kind of strange, drug-induced psychosis angle that goes nowhere, but Gaffigan is pretty darn funny as a crusty old Canuck in the booth.
Worth the price of admission, though?
Uh, have you seen the price of movie tickets these days?
Save up to see "The Dark Knight" three times instead.
- Mike Myers
- Los Angeles Kings