Starbuck (2011)

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Starbuck is the story of David Wozniak, an affable slacker who struggles to live as a responsible adult. He owes money to some unsavoury sorts, continually messes up at his meat delivery job and appears to regularly let down his family. Amidst this chaos his girlfriend announces she is pregnant but is unsure as to whether David is responsible enough to truly be the baby’s father, a fact which prompts David to question his wayward lifestyle.

David then arrives home one day to find a lawyer waiting for him with shocking news. Many years earlier, when short of cash, David donated sperm under the pseudonym Starbuck in order to make ends meet. It turns out that due to a major plot contrivance, sorry, I mean major administrative error, his sperm was doled out to a large number of women and he inexplicably fathered 533 children. 142 of those children are now filing a lawsuit against the clinic trying to force them to reveal the identity of the mysterious ‘Starbuck’.

In an effort to prove that he is capable of becoming a better person and a responsible father, David starts acting as a guardian angel for his vast litter of offspring and sets about covertly helping them. Thus we see him offering moral support at work, covering for them so they can go to an audition and in one extreme example, saving them from a drug overdose.  David begins to grow closer to his unsuspecting brood and considers revealing his identity to them. He is then faced with a bit of a crisis of conscience when his friend and lawyer informs him that if he wants to pay off the thugs, who by this stage are also threatening his family, he must counter-sue the clinic and maintain his anonymity.

Starbuck starts off as a fairly broad comedy about a misunderstood loveable loser who just can’t catch a break. There are plenty of laughs to be had at the film’s outset as David lurches from one damning predicament to another and again as he starts entwining himself in the lives of his children. Whether it’s suffering the well-meaning taunts of his family at work, or the scorn of his football team when he loses their kit, it’s nothing especially unique but its enjoyable tomfoolery backed up by some choice dialogue.

Things do take a turn for the saccharine later on though and it does tread that fine line between schmaltz and heart-warming very carefully. In some instance it does slip slightly into the former, but for the most part, director Ken Scott ensures that there is enough wry humour to see things through. Patrick Huard in the lead role helps matters no end by being incredibly charming and easy to root for and he does a great job of showing his character admirably trying to better himself as the movie develops. Unsurprisingly, Starbuck has been pencilled in for a Hollywood remake reportedly starring Vince Vaughan in the David role, for whom I’m sure playing a genial oafish manchild will be a great stretch.

Starbuck is a feel good comedy which, despite being completely predictable and often contrived, gets by thanks to several engaging performances, a witty script and its heart-warming nature.

Director: Ken Scott
Writers: Ken Scott, Martin Petit
Stars: Patrick Huard, Julie LeBreton, Antoine Bertrand
Runtime: 109 min
Country: Canada

Film Rating: ★★★½☆

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