At one point in Guru Pitka's transcendental training, Mike Myers' newest creation gets smacked in the face with a mop soaked in urine.
That's what it's like to sit through The Love Guru.
Myers spent a decade creating another original character — Shrek and the Cat in the Hat were others' ideas — and all he devised were smuttier jokes. Pitka isn't different from Austin Powers or Wayne Campbell, except that randy, retro spies and teenage schwingers are ripe for juvenile snickering. Hindu spiritualists are not.
Pitka is known as the world's second-best guru behind Deepak Chopra, whose only advantage is appearing on Oprah. Pitka can earn a spot by doing something big, like reuniting a hockey star (Romany Malco) with his wife (Meagan Good), who left him for a grossly endowed goalie (Justin Timberlake). The Maple Leafs' owner (Jessica Alba?!?) hires Pitka to do it, just in time for the Stanley Cup finals.
Whenever genitalia jokes and playground snaps aren't available, there's Verne "Mini-Me" Troyer as the Leafs' head coach, with all the Hobbit/Keebler gags that entails. Oscar winner Ben Kingsley goes slumming as Pitka's cross-eyed mentor, Guru Tugginmypudha, who provides the urine for the mop.
What went wrong for the man responsible for Austin Powers, one of the greatest comedy creations of the past 30 years? I say it's his decision to mock a culture, rather than an era or a generation. His jokes either exploit stereotypes or tiptoe to avoid offending Hindus and spiritualists like his friend Chopra. So he fills in the gaps with groin gags, apparently on the principle that everyone has genitals and therefore everyone will find these jokes hilarious.
Someone once reported the f-word was uttered 296 times in Goodfellas. The Love Guru is an hour shorter and I'll bet there are at least that many references to the sexual act or the appropriate male appendage. I'm not a prude. But I believe that in comedy, as in sex, the most important organ is the brain.
Nothing in The Love Guru is smart, only smug in Myers' belief that everyone loves him so much that he can get away with doing much less.
Steve Persall can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or (727) 893-8365. Read his blog, Reeling in the Years, at blogs.tampabay.com/movies.