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Marina Antunes [Film Festival 10.14.11] Canada review comedy drama

Year: 2011
Director: Ken Scott
Writers: Ken Scott and Martin Petit
IMDB: link
Trailer: link
Review by: Marina Antunes
Rating: 8 out of 10

It's hard to believe that the plot of Ken Scott's sophomore effort Starbuck hasn't yet seen the light of day in Hollywood because it reads like Adam Sandler or Ben Stiller's new comedy. I wouldn't be surprised if we did see a Hollywood version in the coming years but its unlikely anyone will manage to deliver a movie which is this effective.

Bon Cop, Bad Cop's "bad cop" Patrick Huard piles on the pounds to star as David Wozniak, the black sheep of the Wozniak clan. Though he works at the family butcher shop, he's not exactly the ideal employee coming in late, occasionally slugging off his delivery duties and generally just being untrustworthy. He's also got a couple of pot plants growing in his apartment and he owes some bad people a total sum of $80,000 and just as it seems that his life can't get much worse, his past comes knocking.

In his 20s, David spent quite a bit of time at the local sperm bank, donating sperm for money. Turns out the doctor in charge messed up and for an entire year used David's sperm on every couple that came in looking for a donor. Now 20 years later, the clinic is involved in a class action suit and it's revealed that "Starbuck," the name under which David donated, is the father of 533 children, 142 of which want to know who their real daddy is.

At first David wants nothing to do with them. He can hardly take care of himself never mind 142 20-somethings but curiosity gets the better of him and he opens up the envelope containing the bios of the 142 kids and randomly selects one, then two, then three… The interactions he has with these strangers reveals that David is more than just a self-centered mess but a guy who has the heart and potential to bring joy and laughter into people's lives and as he struggles to decide whether to reveal his identity or stay anonymous, he also manages to straighten out his life.

It's a feel good story; a comedy so ludicrous in premise that on paper, it sounds like failure on a grand scale and yet, Scott makes it work. Part of the film's success is that it walks the fine line between cheesy sentimentality and outrageous comedy while never veering too far onto either side but ultimately, it's up to Huard to sell the story and he more than delivers. He's the perfect mix of loser and likeable sad sap and I found myself drawn to his charm and wanting to see him succeed. Some of it is the way the character is written but Huard deserves full credit for his touching portrayal of a guy who just needs a little push in the right direction to get his life in order and in one of the film's final moments, I found myself tearing up.

Sure it's a bit goofy but Starbuck delivers more than just a few chuckles. It's a surprisingly moving story of the importance of family and taking responsibility for one's actions; the fact that its accompanied by some belly-grabbing laughs is a welcome bonus.

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