- The Washington Times - Friday, June 20, 2008

Austin Powers: International Man of Mystery” became a hit on DVD and cable, spawning two massively successful sequels, and mixed in with those flicks were “Shrek” and its sequels.

Then came the massive bomb that was “Cat in the Hat” in 2003, and Mr. Myers pretty much disappeared. Sure, there was “Shrek the Third” last year, but he hasn’t starred in a live-action movie since the failed Dr. Seuss adaptation. “The Love Guru” isn’t the return to form Mr. Myers was hoping to achieve.

It’s a shame, because the movie’s premise is mildly amusing (at least it might have been in 1993). Is transcendental meditation really a ripe target any more?

Mr. Myers stars as the Guru Pitka, the second-best guru in all the land. He’s obsessed with besting boyhood rival Deepak Chopra (the world’s No. 1 guru) and his manager convinces him the quickest way to Chopradom is an appearance on the “Oprah Winfrey Show.”

An opportunity to prove his worthiness to Miss Winfrey arises when the owner of the Toronto Maple Leafs, Jane Bullard (Jessica Alba), hires him to help the team’s star player, Darren Roanoke (Romany Malco), reconcile with his wife, Prudence (Meagan Good) in time to win hockey’s Stanley Cup. There’s only one problem: Prudence has hooked up with French-Canadian goalie Jacques “Le Coq” Grande (Justin Timberlake). (Take a wild guess what his nickname refers to.)

The setup is promising; Mr. Myers and company take a number of relatively humorous, if not wildly original, jabs at silly New Age mumbo jumbo. There’s a running gag about the guru’s mantra, for example, which sounds suspiciously like Mariska Hargitay.

Pitka’s silly motivational acrostic poems (all capped off with a “TM,” natch) and constant promotion of his books really capture the nonsensical, commercial nature of the New Age movement.

“The Love Guru” even finds the perfect use for Miss Alba’s modest talents - in two faux-Bollywood scenes, she does little more than dance, smile and cutely cock her head to the side.

However, the movie devolves from likable silliness to downright stupidity at a frightening pace.

Soon, Mr. Myers is getting slapped in the face with a urine-soaked mop and interrupting a hockey game with two elephants copulating. The level of profanity is surprising - this film makes “Austin Powers” look like an elementary school play.

It doesn’t help that many of the jokes are pretty derivative. Verne Troyer shows up as the Maple Leafs’ coach Cherka. Did you realize he’s short? It’s true. Midget jokes - like Cherka’s office having a 3-foot-high ceiling - dominate. It’s nothing we haven’t seen in the Austin Powers movies (or, well, anything else featuring Mr. Troyer).

In the end, “The Love Guru” contains a few clever touches but has trouble hanging together as a coherent comedy, let alone a coherent film.

1 and 1/2 *’s

TITLE: “The Love Guru”

RATING: PG-13 (Crude and sexual content throughout, language, some comic violence and drug references)

CREDITS: Directed by Marco Schnabel, written by Mike Myers and Graham Gordy.

RUNNING TIME: 88 minutes

WEB SITE: www.lovegurumovie.com

MAXIMUM RATING: FOUR STARS

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