Starbuck Review

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Score

This wacky, Quebec-set comedy about a man meeting with all the children he's sired via sperm donation fires too many blanks.

In this wacky, Quebec-set comedy, Patrick Huard stars as David Wozniak, a shiftless fortysomething who works (badly) for his father’s meatpacking company as a delivery driver. He’s $80,000 in hock to local gangsters, and then his on-off girlfriend announces she’s pregnant.

Things get even worse when it emerges that in the '80s, Wozniak – operating under the pseudonym ‘Starbuck’ – was a sperm-bank regular, fathering some 533 children. Now 142 of his sprogs have decided to take legal action to discover the identity of their biological dad.

With this odd, intriguing premise, one would hope for an insightful look into themes of fatherhood and economic responsibility, with plenty of tough decision-making along the way. Instead, director Ken Scott saddles the whole affair with a weirdly cartoonish tone and the beserko internal logic that defined 2008 Will Smith catastrophe, Seven Pounds.

You’ll be scratching your head as Wozniak essentially stalks his children one by one (except for the gay one) to intervene in their lives like a guardian angel. The likeable Huard is not without a rumpled, deadbeat charm, but ultimately has little to do but react with bemusement to an artificial plot that’s constantly being manipulated around him.

Ironically, for a film that should be about a man learning to change, the screenplay – chockfull of sitcom-style twists and implausible developments – does all the work for him. Furthermore, while Starbuck is competently made, it’s sorely lacking in visual inspiration.

The drabness is accentuated by an earnest, guitar-led indie soundtrack. Starbuck was Canada’s biggest box office success in 2011 and has been scooped up by DreamWorks for a remake with Vince Vaughn in the lead. One can see the potential for a slick Hollywood remake. If nothing else, Gus Van Sant’s Psycho proved beyond a doubt that Vaughn won’t have any trouble with the required wanking.

Anticipation

You had us at ‘533 children’.

3

Enjoyment

Moderately entertaining, but cartoonish and manipulative.

2

In Retrospect

Its heart is in the right place, but its cock is firing blanks.

2
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