The Guru

2003, Movie, R, 91 mins

Review

GURU, THE
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Gullible Westerners in search of exotic Eastern wisdom — especially if it involves sex — are the objects of this listless romantic comedy's toothless satirical barbs. Indian dance teacher Ramu (Jimi Mistry) dreams naively of American movie stardom, but finds that his career opportunities in New York are limited to waiting tables and making porn movies. And he fails at porn, wilting under pressure at the crucial moment. Ramu's co-star, tart-with-a-heart Sharonna (Graham), assures him that it's no big thing and shares some airy-fairy words of wisdom about God's part in making the body beautiful, the spirituality of sex and the mind-body connection. Ramu is still humiliated, but Sharonna's words come in handy when, through a series of unlikely contrivances, Ramu finds himself pretending to be a swami at a birthday party for ditsy rich girl Lexi (Marisa Tomei). "The Guru of Sex" is a big hit, and Lexi starts recommending him to her friends, who are perpetually on the prowl for the next big thing. Trouble is, Ramu has no schtick to call his own, so he persuades Sharonna — whose pious fireman boyfriend (Dash Mihok) has no idea she's in the smut racket — to give him lessons. She thinks she's teaching him how to succeed in adult movies, while he's moving rapidly up the ladder of self-help celebrity by sharing her private tips with the world. Disaster looms on several fronts: Rusty might discover Sharonna's secret life, Sharonna and Ramu are poised to fall in love, meal-ticket Lexi might realize her boy-toy is pining for someone else and everyone could realize Guru Ramu is a big fat fake. You don't need a swami to know that all of the above will happen, and true love will still prevail. The best thing about one-hit wonder Daisy von Scherler Mayer's (PARTY GIRL) film are the Bollywood-style production numbers, which are so intoxicating you wish the music would never stop. But it always does, and then you're back in sitcom land, watching the disconcertingly sexless Mistry revive desiccated socialites with his juicy advice. Since Graham and Mistry are 100 percent chemistry free, their romance feels contrived even within the context of formulaic romantic comedy, and the jabs at the expense of self-centered New Yorkers with more money than sense are so mild they're pointless — if satire doesn't hurt, what's the point? leave a comment --Maitland McDonagh

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