With his rent late. piles of post-due bills on his coffee table, and a fresh diagnosis for skin cancer, alcoholic former child star David Gold (writer/director Pat Mills) comes across a local job listing to be a high school guidance counselor. This is something that a normal person with no experience would probably not give a second thought to, but David’s got it under control. He finds a video from a guidance counselor on YouTube, memorizes key phrases, and utilizes the guy’s name and work history to apply for the job.
The school, of course, is in a desperate position. Their longtime guidance counselor has just passed away and the head principal (“Oprhan Black” star Kevin Hanchard) is on his way out of town for several weeks. It’s a perfect storm that allows for David to get hired without a proper background check. A ridiculous scenario to be sure, but one that provides for plenty of comic relief.
Considering the extent of his research of the job, he is woefully underprepared to tackle the actual needs of the school’s student body. He dispenses wholly inappropriate advice, gives his teenage students shots, trades alcohol for drugs and fights with a bully on the front lawn of the school.
“Guidance” manages to be ridiculous and oddly charming. It’s a slight story, but just outrageous enough to ensure legitimate belly laughs. Mills draws upon his own childhood experience as a star on Nickelodeon’s “You Can’t Do That On Television” and mashes it up with child actor stories gone awry (in one shot, he wakes up with a paperback edition of Drew Barrymore’s memoir “Little Girl Lost” on his chest).
One of my favorite details of the film is how David wears the same corduroy jacket to work every day as if it is a uniform. Certainly a combination of how he likely presumes a teacher would dress and the fact that it’s the only presentable piece of clothing in his wardrobe to wear to the job.
Shot cheaply in and around Toronto, this promising indie debut makes you hopeful that Mr. Mills will be granted a bigger budget and platform for his next project.
“Guidance” will be released on home video by Strand Releasing on November 24, 2015.