The Love Guru: A Five-Point Checklist on How to Make Mike Myers Funny Again

1. He needs to not laugh at his own jokes. In The Love Guru, which I gave a completely fair shot after being a huge fan of the Austin Powers trilogy, Myers follows up every punchline with a hearty laugh, as if to shout, “The joke has concluded! Commence laughing now!” The problem is, when an audience is told to laugh, they are generally resistant, and he literally laughs at 90% of his own jokes. Well, that’s unfair. He writes into the script that the other characters laugh at his jokes too. It’s such a shame, because there were a number of lines I started to laugh at, and then Guru Pitka’s guffaw totally turned me off. For a character like Austin Powers, the laugh fits perfectly—it’s that extra pat Austin gives himself on the back to fuel his confidence and libido. For a character like Guru Pitka, it’s obnoxious and seems like a cheap ploy for getting laughter at a joke Myers knows isn’t funny.

2. He needs to not write in jokes that he knows aren’t funny. Here is an example of an actual joke from The Love Guru: “My agent, Richard Pants, should be here any minute.” (The agent walks in, we see the joke coming and we silently beg the movie not to try it.) “Yes, here is my agent, named Dick Pants.” (Myers smugly indicates the joke to the camera.) Where to begin, really? I’m all for a character with a funny name, but Dick Pants? I don’t even really get it. Is it a pair of pants made of dicks? Is it a small pair of pants meant to fit snugly over a dick? And before you gripe at my sarcastic overanalysis, you know damn well the only way Dick Pants is funny is because it’s so unfunny that it comes back to being funny again. Myers is banking on this fact, hence the smug glare at the audience. Yet when a whole film is peppered with this humor, we as audience members stop thinking, “Here’s a funny guy doing some unfunny jokes in a winking manner,” and start thinking, “Where are the actually funny jokes?” Other jokes attempted: a character has a big penis, a character is a midget, a character has a funny accent, a character fights an animal, animals have sex, American songs are played (and sung at length) on a sitar, and everyone has a funny name that doubles as a sexual innuendo.

3. He needs a funny supporting cast. When he plays multiple characters and is surrounded by the likes of Mindy Sterling, Seth Green, Michael Caine, Robert Wagner, and a mute Verne Troyer, he succeeds wildly. When he is surrounded by a bland Jessica Alba, a hammy Justin Timberlake, a sad-to-be-stuck-in-this-film Romany Falco, an incredibly fine by boring Meagan Good, and a foulmouthed, wildly unfunny Verne Troyer, he is doomed for failure. His character never interacts with Jim Gaffigan and Stephen Colbert, easily the two funniest people in the cast, who phone in their clueless hockey announcers routine, which was stolen from Dodgeball, which was stolen from Best in Show.

4. This might be the most important point—he needs a better director than Marco Schnabel. Or, if Myers directed it via proxy, Schnabel should have taken his name off of it. Poor camera placement, repugnantly bright colors used, actors using different levels of energy, and there are a few places where Myers is clearly ad-libbing that work… but a number more that really really don’t work, and go on for far far too long. Schnabel/Myers thought they could throw a ton at the wall and see if it stuck… but they didn’t have a genre that they could mock like in the Austin Powers films, so the scattershot effect of the “story” (if you can call it that) is jarring and results in us just wanting the film to wrap it up. Perhaps Jay Roach is far more valuable to Myers’ success on screen than Myers realized.

5. He can’t ignore the reviews. I know that in the past they’ve been unkind, and they were particularly pointed this time around. In fact, I’d say a number of reviews were flat-out unfair, ready to hate before they sat down in the theatre. Yet this time around, a few negative reviews might be just the medicine he needs. Let’s hope he listens, and gets all of his unfunny ironed out between now and Austin Powers 4.

~ by russellhainline on September 25, 2008.

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