Starbuck (***)

starbuckA real big hit during its initial Canadian theatrical run, Starbuck is finally headed stateside, and it’s actually worth the wait. This is a high concept comedy with enough laughs and heart to make it a very solid little flick. The powers that be have certainly taken a liking to this movie, as it’s already being remade and Americanized. Yes, you’ll see Vince Vaughn take the lead in The Delivery Man later this year, though oddly enough ‘Starbuck’ writer/director Ken Scott is doing the same duties on the remake. I find that very interesting since I’m not sure what ground he didn’t cover here, but that remains to be seen. In talking about this original version, you really have to compliment Scott for his concept and star Patrick Huard for his lovable loser performance. Nothing here is groundbreaking or even too original beyond the idea, but the execution is very good, which is what really matters in the end. If the subtitles don’t scare of comedy audiences, this could actually stand a decent chance of breaking out and becoming a small hit. I have no doubt that the remake will wind up making more money, but I can’t imagine it turning out any better than this one did…

For David Wosniak (Huard), his 40-something years on this planet have mostly been filled with disappointment and a lack of respect. He’s clearly a screwup who can’t handle responsibility, but a series of events are about to change that in a big way. After his family (who employs him as a delivery man at their butcher shop) gets annoyed with him for yet another mess-up, this time involving some sports jerseys he promised to pick up, David goes to see his ex-girlfriend Valerie (Julie LeBreton), who informs him that she’s pregnant. David is determined to grow up, but at the same time receives some unlike news…he’s already a father. It turns out that he made money donating sperm for a long time, and the end result of that was well over 500 children. To make things even odder, many now want to meet him. Hoping to take control of his life, and against the advice of his friend/lawyer Paul (Antoine Bertrand), David begins seeking them out, hiding who he is. While he’s not accepting parenthood of them due to trying to hide this part of his past from Valerie, he does act as a guardian angel of sorts to those offspring in need. Humor and touching moments then ensue, all leading up to a moment you’ll most likely see coming but enjoy anyway. This film doesn’t redefine comedy, but it does know how to be enjoyable.

Starbuck patrickI really liked Patrick Huard in the lead role of this movie. He bears a resemblance to Jason Segel and even acts somewhat similarly to him, so it’s a surprise that Segel wasn’t approached for the remake. That’s another story though, since Huard is who I’m focusing on right now. He has a big teddybear quality about him, even if his actions are often selfish and less than honorable. It’s clear that the character has a good heart and just needs a push in order to reach his potential. Huard sells us on that change taking place, which is essential to identifying with the character. Antoine Bertrand gets to steal some scenes as the best friend, making the role a bit more than it would have been otherwise. I can’t say that Julie LeBreton gets a whole lot to do, but her acting is more than acceptable. Supporting players include Sarah-Jeanne Labrosse, Patrick Martin, David Michael, and Martin Petit, but Huard and Bertrand take the cake here, acting-wise.

Ken Scott definitely has a future churning out high concept comedies, though one hopes he’ll avoid the trap of just making this film in English later this year. Here, he’s got a simple yet more than sufficient way of directing that gives the film a solid look and a sense of pacing that keeps things from being boring. There’s nothing outstanding about his direction, but it’s certainly effective. As for his writing, he definitely hit on a primo concept for a comedy, but my few issues with the film center around the lazy habit of setting up unlikely roadblocks for a lead character to have to get through. Here and there I just didn’t buy the actions of the lead, though by and large that wasn’t an issue. It did show up enough to bug me though, which is why I’m bringing it up now. I hope the remake plays around with that, even if I’m not amazingly optimistic that it will.

Overall, Starbuck makes you giggle, it makes you smile, and it serves as a nice way to pass the time. I’m not over the moon about it, but I did like what I saw. I expect those who see it will feel similarly about it, though I do hope it manages to find its own audience before it just becomes “that foreign version of the movie Vince Vaughn made”. I’ll be checking out ‘The Delivery Man’ before 2013 is out, but I’m pretty confident that I’ll still prefer ‘Starbuck’ when all is said and done…

Thoughts? Discuss in the comments!