Saturday 6 September 2014

GUIDANCE - TIFF 2014 (TIFF DISCOVERY) - Review By Greg Klymkiw

Guidance Counsellors are NOT cool.
This one most definitely IS.
Guidance (2014)
Dir. Pat Mills
Starring: Pat Mills, Zahra Bentham,
Laytrel McMullen, Alex Ozerov, Kevin Hanchard, Tracey Hoyt

Review By Greg Klymkiw

David Gold (Pat Mills) is a loser. He's a former child star reduced to taking non-union voice gigs, the latest of which he gets fired from because of his haughty, petulant, pretentious attitude. This is bad news because he's way behind on his share of the rent and on the verge of being turfed. He's got serious drug and alcohol problems and he's so deeply in the closet he won't even admit to himself that he's gay. Oh yeah, he's been diagnosed with late-stage skin cancer.

None of this phases our hero. For us, the audience, it's one hell of a good deal because Guidance (the feature debut of writer, director and star Pat Mills) is all about David's decision to bamboozle his way into a job he's not qualified for, but thinks will be perfect for him. Cribbing from a child psychologist YouTube guru, David lands a cushy dream job that will not only pay well, but give him a chance to help teenagers which, for utterly insane reasons, he believes he'll be good at. David Gold becomes the new Guidance Counsellor of Grusin High.

Think of a considerably thinner, more handsome, spiffily-attired and decidedly light-in-the-loafers Jack Black from School of Rock and it all adds up to one of the funniest, sweetest and wonkily outrageous low budget indie comedies you'll have seen in quite some time. David, however, is not an immediate success in his position and it's his approaches to providing guidance to win over his charges that allows for some of the biggest laughs. David eventually becomes the most popular teacher in the school, much to the ire and jealousy of his colleagues - save perhaps for the screamingly fruity gym teacher who keeps trying to out our denial-infused hero and, of course, partake of the "virgin" meat buffet David represents.

Even bigger laughs come from David's sensitivity.

You see, he's all about sharing - sharing wisdom, sharing advice and, uh, sharing booze and drugs. In no time, he actually becomes a very cool, fun and even able role model for the problem kids in the school. However, complications (albeit of the somewhat too predictable variety) arise and his journey is not all preaches and cream.

It is, however, a winner most of the way.

Mills has got terrific screen presence, generates a whole whack of crackling dialogue, elicits a clutch of vibrant performances from his talented, youthful cast and directs with snappiness and flare. At times the film's budget affects our total enjoyment since the movie is almost egregiously light in the population department. I think, though, that most audiences, as even I did, will excuse this niggling detail and just kick back and have one hell of a good time.


Guidance is enjoying its World Premiere in the Discovery section of the 2014 Toronto International Film Festival. Visit the TIFF website for fix, venues, times and dates by clicking HERE.