By Doug Brunell | October 7, 2005

Pastor John (Robert Heath, Jr.) is not having a good day. It’s his wife’s birthday, and he’s promised to be home in time to celebrate.
The only problem? It’s also counseling day, which means he has to see every misfit in the county … and he’s getting odd threats from the creepster Freebird (Toby Price). To make matters worse, the church is about to run out of money and the pastor has just received a phone bill fat with charges to a phone sex line. If this isn’t a situation ripe with comedy, I don’t know what is.

This movie succeeds for the most part. Sure, there are some silly moments that just sort of make you groan, but overall the cast is exceptional, and the Pastor John character is the most realistic and down-to-Earth man of the cloth I’ve seen on film in a long time. He believes in God, but also knows when someone needs a doctor more than they do him (which would be the majority of people who come to see him). Most characters like this are holier-than-thou with all the answers a Bible could hope to provide. Pastor John is a refreshing change from that, though, without being insulting, and Heath, Jr. makes the role his.

“Counseling Day” is a very funny movie that isn’t afraid to poke fun at itself and everything around it. And, as an added bonus, you can show this to your religious friends and chances are (if they have a sense of humor) they won’t be offended. There’s some cursing, and the mentally disabled seem to be a target for jokes, but the film is never condescending. It walks a very fine line and does it with panache. Few other movies could make this claim and still be as humorous.

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