Lowdown: An Indian immigrant becomes a love mentor by giving away advice derived from porn.
The Guru was a film that, once upon a time following its 2002 release, we almost rented on several occasions. When Channel 10 had it on its sadly standard definition channel we finally took the plunge.
The story follows a young Indian guy (Jimi Mistry) that migrates to the USA to fulfill his dream of becoming an actor but ends up finding himself in the catering business. He doesn't give his dream up, so he auditions for a porn role and finds himself playing against Heather Graham, a major porn star (a role that indicates some specialization from Graham as she reprises her Rollergirl role from Boogie Nights; could portraying porn stars be her niche?). Alas, our hero fails to get a hard on and has to go home dry. What he does manage to achieve is some click with Graham, who starts teaching him the trade secrets of the porn industry.
Later, opportunity presents itself, and our dude starts reciting Graham's advice and find himself immensely popular because of that. It works so well that he starts getting special lessons from Graham in order to be able to play the part of the popular love guru he had become, a role that sees him swimming in money.
In parallel, Graham is miserable. She is engaged to a guy from whom she has to hide her profession, pretending to be a teacher at a Catholic school instead. She is also short on cash, which is a bit of a contradiction with everything else the film says, but never mind; trust the gods of American cinema to sort things out for everyone by the end.
The good thing about The Guru is that it implicitly criticizes a double standard society that treats porn as disgusting but consumes porn like there's no tomorrow (and as this article states, scientists are finding that virtually all men consume porn). So it's nice to see jokes about priests who recognize porn stars etc. On the negative side of things, The Guru seems afraid of treading too far into the realm of the politically incorrect, which is a shame. It's virtually afraid of fulfilling its own potential. The best example I can give for that is the lack of any meaningful sex scenes in The Guru; instead, the film relies on comedy based erotic tension and Graham's generous figure (and let's be honest: her big boobs) to keep the audience on its toes.
The end result? A promising film that could have been a hell of a comedy and ends up just another cheap romantic comedy, with very shallow and stupid comedy at that. Did I mention it's predictable?
Best scenes: The porn production ones, of course.
Overall: Only half as good as it could and should have been. 2.5 out of 5 stars.