The Love Guru & r & & r & by MARYANN JOHANSON & r & & r & & lt;span class= "dropcap " & I & lt;/span & t's not enough, these days, if you want to make a stupid, crass, juvenile movie, merely to be stupid, crass, and juvenile: Everyone's doing that, and a filmmaker likes to distinguish himself, right? So here we have the next step in taking movies to levels so new and so base that they stand apart -- though only by making other stupid, crass, juvenile movies look good by comparison.
There's little point in complaining, for instance, that The Love Guru is positively infested with toilet humor, with nonstop references to the male sexual organ apparently aimed at those who are unfamiliar with its general characteristics and several uses. That's just par for the course these days at the multiplex. You're getting a little closer to the new low here if you ask, pondering one of the movie's many imponderables, "How can a man wearing a metal chastity belt get punched in the nuts?"
Here's the thing: The Love Guru isn't merely endlessly crude: It's also dishonest and contemptuous of itself. And thank you so much, Mike Myers, for making me have to concede that there's something nice to be said about many of the other recent movies rife with poop jokes and adolescent terror of all things sexual: At least they were honest about it. But Guru doesn't even believe in itself. All those other idiot movies are at least genuine in their mission to be stupid, crass and juvenile. Guru resorts to tittering over penises fully aware that it has nothing else to offer, even though it would like to, and is hoping you won't notice while you're tittering over penises.
Myers' Guru Pitka -- who's supposed to be America's No. 2 self-help sage, after Deepak Chopra -- doesn't ring true in any sense of the word, even as the protagonists of dumb comedies go. You'd have to be a lobotomized squirrel to find anything meaningful or uplifting in Pitka, yet we're supposed to accept that this is the case for millions of Pitka's fans. Pitka introduces the movie by telling us this will be the story about "my most resistant student who became my greatest teacher ... or some such bullshit." Myers -- who wrote the script with Graham Gordy -- is telling us right there not to believe a word of any of this, that it's all a joke, though not in the way that it's meant to be a joke. If they can't even be bothered to take themselves seriously -- and comedy is certainly serious business, or should be, if it's going to work -- then why should we?
Pitka is all nonstop sexual innuendo and not a whit of spirituality, not even phony spirituality -- he doesn't even pretend to be what his fans are supposed to believe he is. He's Austin Powers disguised as a guru, not an actual guru. But Powers' randiness in the hands of an actual guru is icky. Really, really icky, in that way that pedophile priests are particularly wrong -- and Myers leering as Pitka is truly disturbing. It's not even as if Pitka's obsession with the scatological were his path to transcendence, which could be funny, too, if it were done right. It's that there's absolutely nothing transcendent about Pitka at all. (Rated PG-13)