It’s not a hockey movie. It’s not a funny movie, either.
Mike Meyers ought to be ashamed of himself for writing, producing and starring in The Love Guru. It is a bland, stupid comedy — and I use that word very loosely — that panders to the lowest common denominator with an overabundance of toilet humor and bad puns. Even worse, the film revolves around a hockey player on the Toronto Maple Leafs, making the sport of hockey guilty by association for being in this lame film.
Even though I knew it was not a “hockey movie,” I had to see it anyway. How many times, not counting a Slap Shot sequel, do we get a movie that has anything to do with hockey? Plus, the thought of Justin Timberlake playing a French-Canadian goalie actually sounded kind of funny. About ten minutes into this film, I realized that I made a mistake. Good thing this was only a rental.
In The Love Guru, Mike Meyers plays The Guru Pitka, an American who was raised in India and is now an expert on love and relationships. Guru Pitka wants to become the world’s most well-known love expert. He believes that if he helps someone famous fix a relationship problem, then he’ll get a guest appearance on The Oprah Winfrey Show. That, in turn, will give him the exposure to make him the world’s leading love guru.
Toronto Maple Leafs’ owner Jane Bullard (Jessica Alba) hires the Guru Pitka to help the Leafs’ best player, Darren Roanoke (Romany Malco), win back his wife. Roanoke and his wife just split up. Even worse, she’s now dating Jacques “Le Coq” Grande (Timberlake), an annoying, well-endowed goaltender for the Los Angeles Kings. Because of all of this, Roanoke has “lost his game” and can no longer find the net. Bad timing, as the Leafs are in the Stanley Cup Finals — against the Kings, no less — and don’t stand a change if their best player can’t light the lamp. If Guru Pitka can help Roanoke win back his wife, then he’ll revert to his confident, high-scoring ways just in time for Toronto to win the Cup.
Of course, this is just the high-profile case that Pitka needs to be a guest on Oprah. It also doesn’t hurt that Pitka, despite taking a vow of chastity, has a crush on Jane.
I won’t bore you with the rest of the plot, which involves Pitka making Roanoke do various exercises to face his fears and win back his wife. But I’m sure you can figure out how things end. Do you think that Meyers would have written a film where the Leafs lose and he doesn’t get the girl?
The main problem with The Love Guru is that Meyer’s character of Pitka is so unfunny that he ruins every scene he’s in. Pitka has this annoying habit of uttering a little “tee hee” after saying or doing something that might be construed as humorous. Maybe we’re supposed to find it funny because the character finds it funny?
The film is also awash in juvenile humor. One visual joke involving a beard made out of cotton candy, or another joke asking if a corn dog is made out of a “dog’s thingy” would maybe get a laugh when I was 10 — and that’s stretching it. A thug pulling a shard of glass out of his forehead after getting tossed through a window in a bar fight…well, I could not see humor in that at any age, even though the character himself laughs about it.
Stuff like elephant poop is also passed off as something that is supposed to make us laugh — but doesn’t — as does a martial-arts fight between two men wielding urine-soaked mops. Sorry, but piss and shit doesn’t really do it for me, Mike. But it must for you, since you co-wrote this script.
Double-entendres are also rampant, with character names like Dick Pants (ha!), Guru Satchabigknoba (such-a-big-nob-a) and Punch Cherkov (jerk-off). Guru Pitka, when helping his Uncle Jack down off of an elephant’s back, asks us if we’d help his Uncle Jack off an elephant. Because assisting a pachyderm in masturbation — or even just least talking about it — equates as humor.
Tell me how this is good for hockey?
Apparently, the NHL didn’t see the script, but thought — much like Guru Pitku — that if they were attached to a film involving a star like Mike Meyers, that they too would be on Oprah…or at least get more than two games a week on TV in the States.
Regardless, the league, as well as the Leafs and Kings all helped with the film. Game action was shot at the Staples Center and the Air Canada Arena. Even CBC had a hand in this. Yes, that’s the Hockey Night in Canada logo and — gasp! — “The Hockey Song.” After all, The Love Guru came out before HNIC switched theme songs.
Despite all that, even die-hard hockeys fans will find themselves mostly bored or annoyed when watching this movie. But there are a few notable hockey factoids in this movie that fans would find interesting:
Verne Troyer (Mini-Me from the Austin Powers films) is sometimes funny as Maple Leafs’ coach Punch Cherkov — an obvious, though horribly named, homage to legendary Leafs’ coach Punch Imlach. Troyer even completes the “Old Time Hockey” coach look with a fedora atop his head.
Jane tells Pitka that she inherited the team when her father, Hank Bullard, passed away. This is a nod to former real-life owner Harold Ballard.
Active NHL defenseman Rob Blake makes two short appearances in the film. In Game 1, he lays out Roanoke with a vicious, somewhat illegal-looking, bodycheck. At the end of the film, with the Kings leading in Game 7, Blake for some unknown reason takes the face-off against Roanoke. That doesn’t really make sense, other than for Roanoke to beat him at the draw as a means to even their personal score.
Former NHLer Jim Thomson plays the L.A. Kings long-haired team captain. Thomson dons #29 and his own name on the back of his jersey. Though he is not listed in the end credits, he gets the most screen time of any player besides Roanoke and Grande.
Bob Probert — yes, the Bob Probert — also appears uncredited in the film. Probert wears number 28, but has the fictitious name ARMSTRONG on the back of his sweater. His most notable appearance in the film is when two Kings double-team Roanoke into the boards.
Comedians Jim Gaffigan and Stephen Colbert play two announcers for Hockey Night in Canada. A shame that two such funny men had to say such unfunny lines. However, Colbert’s character does have one particularly memorable scene where he gets a bit overzealous using a Tellistrater to explain “the five hole.”
Justin Timberlake’s character of Jacques Grande wears an old, “Jason”-style goalie mask, even though they were phased out in the late 1980s. The design on his mask is a rooster — or cock — playing into his nickname of “Le Coq.”
The only real laugh-out-loud moments in the film involves animated versions of the Maple Leafs and Kings logos (see below) beating each other silly before each game. This is reminiscent of the Rock ‘Em Sock ‘Em robots that Fox used when they televised NHL games in the mid-1990s, only more violent.
This is the first time I have given a “zero” to anything reviewed on this site. This film has no redeeming value. I’m not sure why anyone would want to see it. I’m also disappointed that Mike Meyers, being an avid fan, would waste using hockey in a movie this bad. Now next time someone wants to make another Mystery Alaska or Mighty Ducks film, they’d probably think twice if they first saw The Love Guru. Of course, that might not be an entirely bad thing.
Enjoy these screenshots from the film, and from the “Hockey Training for Actors” DVD special feature. Click photos to enlarge–you will easily be able to navigate from one to the next without any popup windows.
Theatrical Release Date: June 20, 2008
DVD Release Date: September 16, 2008
Mike Meyers as Guru Pitka
Romany Malco as Darren Roanoke
Jessica Alba as Jane Bullard
Justin Timberlake as Jacques Grande
Verne Troyer as Coach Punch Cherkov ■