In Films, S by David Watson

The hero of Starbuck is a bit of a w*nker. Literally.

The hero of Starbuck
is a bit of a w*nker.

Literally. We first meet
good-natured, 40-something loser David Wozniak (Patrick Huard) as he’s listlessly knocking one out at the Montreal
sperm bank where he’s been making regular deposits for over 20 years under the
pseudonym Starbuck.

A less-than-reliable delivery boy for his family’s butcher
shop and an unsuccessful pot grower, David has managed to completely avoid
responsibility his whole life. But
when his cop girlfriend Valerie (Julie
) announces she’s pregnant he’s forced to grow up fast, forsaking
his freewheeling bachelor lifestyle, if he wants to be a father to his unborn

Unfortunately, David’s also just found out from the sperm
bank that thanks to his particularly fruitful babyjuice, he’s already an
unwitting father – of 533 children!
What’s more, 142 of them have just launched a class action suit against
him and the clinic that will force him to reveal his identity. As the case becomes a media circus and
David struggles to remain anonymous, he grows curious about his biological
children, begins inserting himself into their lives, becoming both friend and covert
guardian angel, getting to know them without revealing his identity, changing
their lives in ways both big and small.

While it’s about 25 minutes too long and treads similar
ground to last year’s documentary Donor
, Starbuck is a sweetly
sentimental but, importantly, not cloyingly so, French-Canadian comedy. Already gearing up for a Spielberg-produced Hollywood remake
starring Frat Pack doofus-in-chief Vince
, it’s never quite as funny as it thinks it is but at least it’s not
the smutty gross-out fest it could’ve been. What’s the bet someone, probably Katherine Heigl or Elizabeth
or whoever else ends up playing the girlfriend, gets a mooshful of
sploosh in the Vince Vaughn version?
It’s witty without being bawdy, gently funny without ever reducing
itself to the sappiness always bubbling under the surface.

There’s no real urgency to the script and certainly no
surprises. Every beat of the film
is predictable but it’s crowd-pleasingly likeable fun; we’re never in any doubt
that David’s going to end up a better man by the end or that his progeny will
come to love him, but it’s a pleasant journey with amiable travelling
companions. Starbuck’s greatest strength in fact lies in its superb cast. In the fat best friend role that’ll no
doubt go to Jon Favreau, Antoine
is funny as David’s best bud Paul, a harassed dad and
underachieving lawyer, while Julie LeBreton is luminous as David’s feisty,
no-nonsense girlfriend. The film
stands or falls though on Patrick Huard’s excellent performance as the amiable,
well-meaning man-child who becomes a bumbling force of benevolence to his new,
extended family.

Consistently gently amusing without ever making you bark
with laughter, Starbuck is a
crowd-pleasing movie that will actually please the crowd.