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Review: The Guru (2002).

June 10, 2011

The Scoop:
Lurking somewhere inside this uneven comedy about the self-help movement is a movie with real heart.

In “The Guru” Jimi Mistry plays Ramu, a naive Indian dance instructor who moves to America to be a star. After losing his job as a waiter, gets a part in a movie he doesn’t realize is a porno. He gets fired from that too, but befriends his costar Sharona (Heather Graham) who gives him some helpful advice. When Ramu later stumbles into a gig pretending to be a swami at a birthday party for new-agey Lexi (Marisa Tomei) he fakes his way through by repeating Sharona’s porn advice – only to find himself making an actual impact on the people taking his advice. As Lexi tries to turn him into a celebrity love/sex guru, Ramu has to keep going back to get fresh advice from Sharona, who thinks she’s teaching him how to be a porn star.

Director Daisy von Scherler Mayer and writer Tracey Jackson pile on plenty of the 1980s style comedy hijinks. It’s enough to keep things light and wacky, but there is a more serious heart underneath. Unfortunately, sometimes the plot machinations drown out the substance instead of supporting it.

But in between the jokes are some good pieces of advice on life and love, as well as some earnest romantic yearning. The three leads are up to the challenge, especially Graham, who keeps her good-Catholic-girl-slash-porn-star character from falling into cliché. The result if frothy enough to be entertaining, even if it doesn’t quite make the deeper impact it should.

Best Bit:
The Bollywood-meets-“Grease” ending.

Side Note:
Mistry, who made his name in several British TV series, was also a contestant on the BBC’s dance competition show, “Strictly Come Dancing,” in 2010.

Companion Viewing:
“Grease” (1978) and “The Party” (1968).


Take a Look:
The trailer:

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