August 3, 2008
The Truth is Out There – Pity Mulder and Scully Can’t Find It
By Nicholas Barber
Film 2 The X-Files: I Want to Believe Chris Carter 105 MINS, 15 The Love Guru Marco Schnabel 87 MINS, 12A
Ten years after the last X-Files film, and six years after the end of the hit TV series, David Duchovny and Gillian Anderson are back as FBI special agents Mulder and Scully, the most popular M&S since Marks & Spencer. Now retired from the monster-hunting game, Scully is working as a surgeon in a Catholic hospital when one of her old employers comes knocking, and tells her that an FBI rookie has gone missing. A paedophile priest (Billy Connolly) claims to have had psychic visions relating to the disappearance and, as the ex-X-Filers used to specialise in all things supernatural, the Bureau needs Scully to locate her erstwhile partner, now a bearded recluse with a cunning hideout.
X-philes will be whooping when they hear the series' signature six-note whistle, but once you've got over the excitement of seeing M&S together again, I Want to Believe is no more than an average episode of the television programme, drawn out to feature length by numerous scenes of people driving through thick snow in the middle of the night, and having stilted conversations in which they keep repeating the subtitle.
If the first X-Files film was a big-budget, millennia-spanning, international conspiracy thriller, the new one is a drab, indie procedural, with a wintry setting so colourless that it might as well be in black and white. Mulder and Scully don't even take their FBI-issue suits out of the cupboard.
The film isn't a disaster; it's just disappointingly inconsequential, in part because the great detectives don't do any detecting. They follow Connolly around while he has his visions, and then they let the villain escape, over and over again. Wasn't there anyone in the FBI who could have managed to do that without Mulder and Scully's help?
Shrek cartoons aside, Mike Myers (left) has been off our screens almost as long as The X-Files. The Cat in the Hat came out five years ago, and the last Austin Powers instalment came out the year before that. And yet, after all that time, Myers is playing much the same giggling clown in The Love Guru, the only significant differences being a prosthetic nose and an even bushier beard than Mulder's. His character is an American-born, Indian-raised guru who has built a Californian business empire by peddling the kind of New Age cod-philosophy that had been keeping Radovan Karadzic busy. His ambition is to be as famous as Deepak Chopra, and he sees his chance when Jessica Alba, the owner of a Canadian ice-hockey team, hires him to repair the marriage of the squad's star player. As usual, Alba's role consists of laughing adoringly at the hero's jokes while wearing a tight dress. Myers is beginning to rival Woody Allen in his propensity to cast himself opposite beauties half his age. If only he rivalled him in any other respect.
There are some promising gags at the start which suggest that Myers might be satirising the self-helping self-help industry. He has a way with punning slogans ("From nowhere to now here") and book titles ("If You're Happy and You Know It, Think Again") which are just a whisker away from the real McCoy. But as the film wears on, he shelves almost every form of joke except sniggering references to genitalia, flatulence and bodily fluids, until proceedings climax, perhaps inevitably, with two elephants having sex.
The frustrating thing is that Myers' comic timing can still prompt a few giggles, but he's in need of some collaborators who will flush away some of the toilet humour. The question is who exactly the film is aimed at. It's too immature for most teenagers, and yet a plot revolving around penis size won't encourage many parents to buy the DVD for younger children. The only logical answer is that Myers isn't just the writer, producer and star of The Love Guru, he - and he alone - is its target audience.
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