Published April 24th, 2013
See it Before the Hollywood Remake "Starbuck" arrives in Orinda
By Sophie Braccini
Patrick Huard Photos provided
Already an international blockbuster and a future Hollywood remake, the crowd pleaser of a movie "Starbuck" comes to Orinda from Quebec for one week starting May 3. The Canadian flavor is something you won't want to miss in this efficient comedy about what it means to be a father.
The story begins when David Wozniak, played by Patrick Huard, discovers that he has fathered hundreds of children, now in their early 20s - the result of the multiple sperm donations he made in his youth. Wozniak is 42, going on 19, when he hears the news: more than 100 of his 'children' are suing to have his identity revealed. An irresponsible and immature though likeable individual, he learns at the same time that his girlfriend is pregnant. His journey through the exploration of these different "fatherhoods" ultimately makes a man of him.
Scenarists Martin Petit and Ken Scott, who also directed the movie, used the North American legal void regarding the anonymity of sperm donors to talk about what it means to be a father, to be part of a family, and to discuss the place of men in this new paradigm procreation techniques have created. But this is not an intellectual movie; it is full of fun scenes, mostly carried through by Huard whose charming clumsiness and desire to do the right thing land him in very difficult situations.
Wozniak is known to the fertility clinic and to his children as Starbuck, named after the legendary Canadian bull Hanoverhill Starbuck that had an almost perfect genetic code and revolutionized artificial insemination. As of today, the bull is the best sire ever recorded by the Artificial Insemination Center of Quebec. But are you a father because someone carries some of your genetic material? The movie tends to say yes.
The hero is surrounded by fathers: his own dad, now a widower; his brothers; and his best friend, who has four kids and no wife. At times Petit and Scott push fatherhood a little too much, which creates some oddities in the scenario. Wozniak's children refer to their 'adopted families' when they talk about those who raised them, but when there is sperm donation it is likely that the biological mother is raising the child. But where are the mothers in the movie? Starbuck appears to be an omnipotent being, the sole creator of hundreds of kids, a feat that borders on machismo.
Some of the children Wozniak meets seem to be caricatures of themselves, with somewhat miraculous outcomes following their brief encounters: the wannabe actor gets the role of his life; the drug addict straightens up without medical help; the struggling street singer finds an audience.
"Starbuck" is still a fun, feel-good movie, even if it may have sacrificed some plausibility for a good ending. In the U.S. the movie rights have been purchased by Steven Spielberg and a remake is on its way under the direction of Scott. It is rumored that Vince Vaughn might be cast as Starbuck with the action taking place in New York City - much different from the original locale, the Montreal neighborhood called Mile-End, a multicultural area with specific style, colors and buildings that add to the good vibe of "Starbuck."
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