"The Love Guru" (* * out of four) is enraptured by bathroom humor that doesn't even reach sophomoric standards. It's more on the level of preschool.
This send-up of feel-good, inspirational wisdom with a decidedly Indian flavor might have made a clever "Saturday Night Live" sketch. But as a movie, it's a silly spoof that is occasionally funny but grows tedious with excessive mugging and bad punning.
Mike Myers is Guru Pitka, a famous, and ridiculous, spiritual adviser who lives in the shadow of rival Deepak Chopra. He spouts meaningless gibberish disguised as profundities such as "I want you to go from nowhere to now here" and writes best sellers with such titles as I Know You Are, But What Am I?
One of the funnier recurring bits is his signature greeting: "Mariska Hargitay," a play on the Indian "Namaste." We hear him utter that line throughout the movie, and there is a funny scene in which celebrities parade through his ashram. First Jessica Simpson, then Val Kilmer and finally Hargitay herself. Pitka tells the star of :Law & Order: Special Victims Unit" about a new spiritual center he is opening in her name for "special victims."
There are goofy laughs like this one, but the plot is forced and inane, combining hockey, romance and a crackpot blend of pop psychology and Eastern philosophy.
Pitka was American born but raised in an Indian ashram by the venerable guru Tugginmypuddha (a cross-eyed Ben Kingsley with a great accent, but he's given some of the movie's least funny lines). Pitka is promised a slot on Oprah's show -- and a chance to eclipse Chopra's fame -- if he can reunite Toronto Maple Leafs star Darren Roanoke (Romany Malco), dubbed the "Tiger Woods of hockey," with his estranged wife Prudence (Meagan Good).
It seems that Darren has been in a slump since Prudence hooked up with "L.A. Kings" goalie Jacques "Le Coq" Grande (a funny Justin Timberlake with a hilarious French Canadian accent). "Maple Leafs" owner Jane Bullard (Jessica Alba) has commissioned Pitka to work his magic and get Roanoke back on track so the team can win "Stanley's Cup," as Pitka calls it.
Myers regular Verne Troyer is the butt of far too many unfunny jokes. And speaking of tired gags, isn't it time to retire the old kick-to-the-crotch joke? Also, Myers seems hellbent on seeing how many penis jokes he can work into a movie.
The works of Chopra and others like him do have comic potential, as does the public appetite for inspirational quick fixes. "The Love Guru" starts out with some promise but devolves into a Myers vanity project, enlivened by a few belly laughs and some humorous Bollywood musical spoofs. (Rated PG-13 for crude and sexual content throughout, language, some comic violence and drug references. Running time: 1 hour, 28 minutes. Opens in select theaters tonight and nationwide Friday.)