Director: Ken Scott (Life After Love, The Rocket)
Screenplay: Ken Scott, Martin Petit
Producer: André Rouleau
Starring: Patrick Huard, Julie LeBreton, Antoine Bertrand, Dominic Philie, Marc Bélanger
MPAA Rating: 14A
Running time: 109 min.
It’s always a welcome surprise when a movie you’ve never heard of impresses. That was the case when I saw Ken Scott’s Starbuck at VIFF.
Co-written by Scott and Martin Petit, this plot is one that will have you shaking your head. Bon Cop, Bad Cop’s Patrick Huard stars as David Wozniak, a 42 year old man who still lives like an irresponsible teen: he’s seriously in debt, has a grow-op in his living room to help pay the bills and works at the family butcher shop delivering meat. He’s well loved by everyone but he’s also not trusted with anything of importance because he tends to muck things up. But he has a good heart and when it comes right down to it, he’ll do what he can to help those he loves.
One such instance of caring in the late 80s led to a spree of sperm donations when he was in his 20s. Using the alias of Starbuck, David spent numerous hours in a little room doing his business into a little cup. Yes, it’s a bit strange but it got the job done and after collecting the funds he needed David went on with his carefree life until 20 years later, he gets a visit from a lawyer. The doctor who led the clinic David had frequented made the mistake of giving his sperm to all of the couples that came in for the period of one year and as a result, David is the father of 533 children, 142 of whom have filed a class action suit to open the record books and make public the name of the man who is a “father” to them all.
The lawyer leaves behind an envelope with bios on the kids which David is determined not to open it but depressed with his current situation (his lack of money and news that his ex-girlfriend is pregnant and wants nothing to do with him), he randomly selects a bio that leads to another and a third until his life becomes a quest to be a guardian angel to all of his children. It’s laughable and on paper reads like a saccharin disaster waiting to unfold but the dramedy that reveals itself onscreen is infectious.
Part of it is Scott and Petit’s script which manages to grow the cheesy premise through some truly tender moments (I’m particularly fond of the first time David brings his girlfriend home to meet the family) but the majority of the credit goes to Huard who with the rest of the cast, primarily his best friend and lawyer Antoine Bertrand (his monologues on why David shouldn’t want to be a father are hilarious and poignant) and Julie LeBreton as David’s girlfriend Valerie, bring an unexpected humanity to the story.
I found myself taken with Starbuck on first viewing and was thrilled to find that the film plays just as well on the second and even third time around. There’s a charm that encompasses this story and rather than playing like a forgettable Hollywood blockbuster, Starbuck retains a humaninty and delivers a story about family and what it really means to be a father.
A hugely entertaining dramedy, Starbuck is a widely accessible bit of Canadiana.
Starbuck is now available on DVD and Blu-ray from Entertainment One.
Click “play” to see the trailer:
Flixster Profile for Starbuck