“GUIDANCE”— The Guidance Counselor

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“GUIDANCE”

The Guidance Counselor

Amos Lassen

David Gore is 36-years-old and a pathologically immature former child actor. He has never been able to get over high school. When we meet him in the film, he was just diagnosed with skin cancer and got fired from the last acting gig he could get. He is desperate for money and with nothing else to lose, he fakes his resume, and gets a job as a high school guidance counselor, something he knows nothing about but the students of Grusin High love him (that could be because he drinks and smokes with them). This is just the beginning of his moral and mental descent. He meets Jabrielle, a teenaged outcast who’s just as screwed up as he is and this could cause him to learn that in the company of teenagers, sometimes he can go too far, especially when it comes to committing a ridiculous crime.

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The film was written and directed by Pat Mills who also plays the part of David, a former child star that is a disaster in almost everything he does. He spends plenty of time watching himself on television in reruns. When we first meet him he is making an audio recording of New Age affirmations and this was a last-resort acting gig from which he is promptly fired from for being drunk at 9 a.m. and “sounding too gay.” Indeed, everyone but David seems to think he’s gay — but then, he’s in denial about many things; the latest being a diagnosis of Stage 3 skin cancer.

He is estranged from his family and on the cusp of being evicted so he decides that he wants to “help teenagers” and studies for a high-school guidance counselor position. Since he has no imagination, as he would for a role. Lacking much imagination, he steals the identity of an online teen counselor, gets hired at Grusin High by the harried principal (Kevin Hanchard), who needs to replace his just-deceased counselor before going on vacation.

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When David goes to work wearing outlandish outfits and using extreme body language, he awakens the suspicions of members of the faculty and actually excites the gay gym teacher Scott (David Tompa), who assumes he is a closet case and begins making aggressive and unwanted passes at David. David’s off-the-wall advice to his needy students, however, begins to score some successes, especially since he shares vodka with them. He manages to empower a shy girl to get a boyfriend; show a Goth student thinks she has found someone who understands her and he becomes a new client for the school pot-pusher. But his concern is Jabrielle (Zahra Bentham), a perpetual truant who lives in an abusive home situation. The frequently inappropriate but mutually supportive relationship between them becomes even wilder when Jabrielle is with him as he goes out of control totally.

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Mills manages to make bad taste seem poignant and he gives quite a performance. This is a comedy that truly makes us laugh aloud and a fun film that you should not miss.

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