Director: Ken Scott
Writers: Ken Scott and Martin Petit
Stars: Patrick Huard, Julie LeBreton, and Antoine Bertrand
After ten days, nine films, and back-to-back screenings on the last day, I was very happy to end MIFF with a well written, acted, and laugh-out-loud funny comedy. Off all the films we watched this was the one I wanted to go out and own immediately.
Starbuck is David Wozniak (Patrick Huard). He is forty-two, works as a meat delivery truck driver in the family butcher business, owes $80,000 to a loan shark, has a complicated relationship with his newly pregnant girlfriend Valerie (Julie LeBreton), and back in his twenties donated enough sperm to father 533 children–of which 142 of them want to know who he is and are suing the fertility clinic to reveal his identity.
The film comically shows us David is the family screw-up that means well but does not always make the right decision. He is visited at his apartment by the fertility clinic attorney who informs him of the current lawsuit by his progeny against the clinic and David’s alias of “Starbuck” to reveal his identity. David is panicked and visits his friend and attorney Avocat (Antoine Bertrand) who agrees to defend him in the case. (NOTE: I cannot read or understand French. Avocat is French for Advocate and I am assuming the Avocat listed on IMDB is David’s friend. If I am incorrect, I apologize) While the case progresses, David is given the profiles of his biological children that wish him to know who they are. Though he initially throws away the profiles, he later randomly starts picking out profiles from the file and clandestinely visits them. Each encounter is comedic, dramatic, and/or touching. As he learns more about his offspring, the more he wants to become a part of their lives–possibly a guardian angel. But soon his own life and problems interject. He is forced to decide between revealing himself or countersuitng to maintain his anonymity and claim damages from the fertility clinic. What will he do and what will be the consequences?
Though the story is preposterous and there are some plot holes you can drive a tractor-trailer through, in the end this is a very funny movie with great lines and scenarios. The first scene between David and Avocat in the middle of the night as Avocat’s children totally ignore him as he makes inappropriate remarks about them to David his hysterical. All subsequent scenes with Avocat are almost as funny. Another scene where David inadvertently attends a meeting of his biological children to go over the status of their case against him, and he has to explain how he knows the different young adults as they run into each other and he introduces them is on par with classic Abbot & Costello routines such as “Who’s on First”. The story succeeds because it allows David to grow as a person and accept responsibility for his life and decisions. It also delivers some sweet moments while maintaining its comic edge; the best example being the one between David and his father toward the end of the film.
The story also succeeds because of Patrick Huard. He gives David an endearing quality that makes you want to root for him despite all his faults and bad decisions. Huard is also a great physical presence; commanding every scene his is in–you can’t help but watch him and see how he will react. Antoine Bertrand is his equal. Together on-screen they are a great comedic team. All the other supporting actors perform well, with the exception of Julie LeBreton who is overshadowed. Unfortunately her role and the arc of her character seems to be in the script only to allow for the very heartwarming ending of the film. That being said, this is only a minor quibble.
Starbuck is a sweet and very funny film.
Grade = A-