By Mark Saldana
Rating: 3.5 (Out of 4 Stars)
Typically when a film’s story has a ridiculous or implausible premise, it is a huge turn off for me. Occasionally, though, a film comes along that can take the preposterous and run with it so well that it becomes easy to forget its absurdity. French Canadian film Starbuck does just that. With lovable characters, often side splitting comedy and a whole lot of heart, this import wins my praise.
Using the alias Starbuck, lovable slacker David Wozniak (Patrick Huard) got in the habit of selling his sperm to a bank for easy cash during his twenties. Now in his forties, David works as a delivery man for his family’s butcher business, but still manages to get himself into financial trouble. To make matters worse, his girlfriend Valerie, who has grown incensed at his irresponsible ways, finds out she is pregnant with his child. In addition to this child with Valerie, David soon discovers that the several hundred of the children he fathered through the sperm bank are suing to find out his identity.
Written by Ken Scott and Martin Petit, and directed by Scott, Starbuck truly is a joy to watch. The film does lose points for plausibility, but because Scott and Petit develop the story and characters so well, this negative issue can be ignored, but not entirely forgotten. The sincere and earnest direction the story takes, in addition to the well written, directed, and performed comedy sequences, positively distract from the root irrationality.
Well deserved kudos must be given to the performances of the outstanding cast. Patrick Huard performs extraordinarily as a most lovable down-and-outer who really tries to turn his life around, but cannot seem to escape the woes of his past. The film also stars Julie LeBreton who does a fine job as the girlfriend Valerie, a young woman who’s at her wit’s end with her frustrating boyfriend during a life changing stage. As David’s best friend and lawyer, Antoine Bertrand provides plenty of laughs and giggles. His character is a bit of a slacker single father who barely survives raising his several children.
After watching this joyous comedy, I was reminded that the movie has been remade for American audiences by Ken Scott. The Delivery Man which stars Vince Vaughn as the Starbuck character which, in my opinion, feels completely wrong considering Vaughn’s recent string of characters. Well, honestly, in most of his recent films (about seven of them), he essentially portrays the same fast-talking con-man. If Vaughn continues with this schtick for the Starbuck remake, he will take what really is an amiable character and spoil it with his tiresome routine. I really feel they made a mistake in casting him. When I think of an American version of Starbuck, I envision someone more like Jason Segel. I do hope and pray that Vaughn will eventually abandon his default character and do something dynamically different. The routine has grown stale and annoying.
So, for those considering waiting for the American version to premiere, I would strongly advise against this. The French Canadian version of Starbuck is an absolute pleasure to watch. Unless one is a huge Vince Vaughn fan, then I feel it imperative to enjoy the film and main character as it is intended. I fear that Vaughn will phone in his usual performance, completely robbing the story of all its heart.