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'Guidance' gets an A for its subversive silliness

'Guidance' gets an A for its subversive silliness
A scene from "Guidance." (Strand Releasing)

Canadian funnyman Pat Mills was born to play David Gold, a former kid actor who's now a floundering, alcoholic, sexually confused man-child living in an epic state of denial. David is at the epicenter of "Guidance," a wacky, subversive comedy also written and directed by Mills. It's a creative hat trick of wildly amusing proportions.

After David is fired from a last-ditch voice-over gig — and with the clock ticking on his overdue rent — he wangles his way into a job as a high school guidance counselor. Borrowing (stealing?) the identity and generic patter of an online teen advisor named Roland Brown, David sets up shop at nearby Grusin High.

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In short order, he proves the worst guidance counselor ever — or maybe the best — as he shares vodka shots, weed and unvarnished, be-yourself advice with an array of students, a few of whom he strangely helps.

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Although the faculty doesn't know what to make of the oddball David/Roland ("He dresses like a ventriloquist's dummy!"), the kids come to think he's OK. Weird but OK.

Aside from the gay gym teacher, the person most drawn to David is Jabrielle (Zahra Bentham), a student with self-esteem issues and a rough home life. She will pair off with him for a third-act adventure that's as far-fetched as it is narratively satisfying.

Mills peppers his fresh script with an assortment of throwaway lines, kooky character beats and off-kilter emotional truths. That he packs so much memorable silliness into one 80-minute film is quite the feat. Sequel, please.

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"Guidance."

No MPAA Rating.

Running time: 1 hour, 20 minutes.

Playing: Sundance Sunset Cinemas, West Hollywood.

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