Picks and Pans Review: The Guru
Inspired more by John Travolta in Grease than the whirling Bollywood musicals he sat through as a boy, a dance instructor (Mistry) comes to New York City from India in pursuit of showbiz glory. He hits bottom when he lands a part in a porn film, then lucks into celebrity when he poses as a swami at a society party. Parroting the coaching tips of his porn costar (Graham), he is hailed as a prophet whose message rises up from the erogenous zone. Of all the nirvana!
These strained farcical contrivances never let up—by day the porn star poses as a grade-school teacher to fool her firefighter fiancé—until they strangle the movie, like a snake grown too long and tangled to be charmed. The one performance with any spontaneity is Marisa Tomei's. As a spoiled rich girl who becomes the guru's pupil and attains true spiritual wisdom, she smiles with sweet, pained humility beneath an ill-fitting turban. She's unexpectedly touching. (R)
BOTTOM LINE: Omm-barrassing