Tired, sore and sick is the perfect state of mind to take in a new documentary about self-help svengali Tony Robbins, writes Chris Schulz.

I was jetlagged, taking heavy pain medication, and I could feel a cold coming on. I desperately needed help. I ached for a TV binge, something unchallenging that would soothe my fragile state.

I switched on Netflix. And I found Tony Robbins. "Help me," I may have whispered.

'Help', it turns out, is Robbins' middle name. And tired, sick and sore might be the perfect mind state to watch the self-help svengali's new movie, I Am Not Your Guru, which premiered on Netflix earlier this year.

Made by documentary dude Joe Berlinger, the man behind 2004's excellent Metallica: Some Kind Of Monster, I Am Not Your Guru follows Robbins' annual Date With Destiny event, a six-day seminar that promises to "ignite your passion to achieve the ultimate vision of your life".


I needed igniting. I wanted passion. Having worn the same pair of grey track pants for two days running, I was at a particularly low ebb. So I pressed play. And I was instantly impressed.

Robbins hosts Date With Destiny himself, spending up to 14 hours a day on stage in front of 2500 people, who paid between US$3995 and US$7995 for the privilege of being there. When Robbins hits the stage, the crowd acts much like Justin Bieber's do, screaming like they've just seen a shirtless teen perform generic pop songs.

All Robbins does is talk. But he's really good at it. My impressions of him before the film were probably much like yours, in that he was a chiseled fraud, a cult-like figure who promises religious experiences to those in desperate need of help, then makes them pay through the nose for it.

But the film changed those impressions. Robbins is an impressive, booming presence, an engaging character prone to outbursts of swearing and occasional, actually funny, jokes. Imagine Arnold Schwarzenegger yelling positive affirmations at you without the accent and you're about there.

Robbins is also very good at what he does. The film captures several "breakthroughs", the term he uses to describe someone struggling with an issue that they can't solve on their own. When he's in action, Robbins can be terrifying, zoning in on problems and making shaking participants confront them there and then.

Spoiler alert: Your parents are to blame for everything.

His methods are predictable, but the delivery is entertaining. And the results are certainly impressive. A girl barely out of her teens confronts her dad about his drug addiction. A depressed and suicidal man suddenly has a smile on his face. A woman struggling with a relationship breaks up with her boyfriend on speaker phone in front of the crowd. A struggling couple later have the best sex of their lives after their own breakthrough.

Tony Robbins receives adoring praise from his followers during his Date With Destiny event.
Tony Robbins receives adoring praise from his followers during his Date With Destiny event.

But even just two hours of Tony Robbins is too much Tony Robbins. He definitely isn't my guru. As entertaining as the film is, by the end, I didn't feel like I needed to make lasting change. I hadn't made a personal breakthrough. And I certainly didn't fancy spending $US7995 and airfares on a trip to Florida for this year's Date With Destiny event in December.

I still just felt tired, sick and sore. But for two hours, I Am Not Your Guru took my mind off the pain. Thank you, Tony. Job done. Now, pass the painkillers. And a new pair of track pants.

* What did you think of I Am Not Your Guru? Post your comments below ...