Friday, August 21, 2015

Pat Mills' gloriously goofy GUIDANCE is a politically incorrect, liberating hoot-and-a-half

What a jolt of deliciously "wrong" behavior, attitude and appearance is offered up in the new comedy GUIDANCE, all about perhaps the worst guidance counsellor ever observed on film or elsewhere, and embodied to loony-tune perfection by a certain Pat Mills (how simple a name is that?), who has the audacity to hand us a character -- a gay character, at that -- utterly devoid of just about any likable characteristic except the ability to entertain us royally via his mis-deeds, -words and -ideas.

Movies don't get much more politically incorrect that this, and because Mr. Mills (shown at top, below, and above, au bain) has had the even-greater audacity to write, direct and star in his movie, were it not so damned funny and enjoyable, I'd be tempted to call it a "vanity production." But, hell, this guy actually possesses talent enough to be vain about.

His movie, surprising and liberating from its opening scene onwards, introduces us to pretty much a complete loser: narcissistic, drunk and in absolute denial regarding just about his entire life. What's not to like? Everything from self-help to teenagers to the actor's mentality gets skewered in the course of the film, and our boy David (Mr. Mills), soon to be better known under an alias, manages to hold up a mirror to the hypocrisy of our present-day mores, even as he himself comes off as a first-class ass.

Now, just how long can even an ace movie-maker manage to keep this up without finally giving in to sentimentality and the force of feel-good? Longer than you might expect, in fact, and even when Mills' movie eventually teaches us those lessons-we-must-learn, the filmmaker manages to simultaneously avoid and embrace his happy ending, turning the expected on its head and keeping us laughing still.

If I've made the film sound like a one-man show, it pretty much is, and yet Mills has written his subsidiary roles well and cast them so, too -- with very fine work coming from actors like Zahra Bentham (at bottom) and Tracey Hoyt (above). Everyone does a good job, and the fact that most of the actors will seem fresh and new just adds to the movie's originality.

Of course the film is completely unbelievable, but Mills' style -- loosey-goosey and off the cuff -- goes a long way in making its incidents and events palatable and fun. Once again, a Canadian film manages to top most anything that's come out of Hollywood in terms of political incorrectness.

Guidance (what a perfect title!), from Strand Releasing and running a swift 80 minutes, opens today in New York at the Village East Cinema. If you're not near NYC, don't despair, as the movie also opens this coming Friday, 8/28 in L.A. at the Sundance Sunset Cinema. Additional screenings can be found by clicking here then scrolling down and clicking on the word Screenings. Further, the film will certainly reach DVD and digital platforms before too long, 

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