Tuesday, May 07, 2013


By Chuck Graham, TucsonStage.com


Before there was Starbucks, the ubiquitous coffee shops, there was Starbuck the mythological figure. Now we have “Starbuck” the heartwarming and humorous – not to mention philosophical – French-Canadian film playing at the Loft Cinema, 3233 E. Speedway Blvd.

Directed by Ken Scott and co-written with Martin Petit, this picture raises some downright knotty social issues about the paternal responsibilities of sperm donors. Filmed in French, it has that certain élan we like to associate with people who are sophisticated in a salt-of-the-earth kind of way.

We already know DreamWorks is preparing to release an English-language remake (presently titled “The Delivery Man”), also directed by Scott and featuring a cast that includes Vince Vaughn, Cobie Smulders and Chris Pratt.

It will be interesting to see if Scott is able to make the transfer to that Hollywood A-list without losing the charm and humanity of the original.

I’m thinking “No way, not with DreamWorks at the helm.” See and enjoy “Starbuck” now with all of its original charm and lovably low-key cast.

Patrick Huard plays the career slacker David Wozzniak, a 42-year-old pudge who always needs a shave. He has no family of his own and only has a job because his father owns a successful butcher business.

David drives the delivery truck, but does have a hard time getting up in the morning and staying focused on making a day’s worth of deliveries.

In a brief prelude we learn that 20 years ago a much younger David earned money being a busy little sperm donor. Jump ahead to the present day and David’s slacker personality is quickly established. His girlfriend Valerie (Julie LeBreton) is pregnant, too.

Oh, and he also owes $80,000 to the mob.

That’s when a lawyer representing the sperm bank shows up to tell David his sperm donations fathered 533 children, and 142 of them are suing to learn the identity of their father, known to them only as Starbuck.

Following the advice of his best friend and admittedly shady lawyer Avocat (an excellent Antoine Bertrand), David thinks about filing a countersuit.

But then, with curiosity getting the best of him, David begins looking at the files on each of these children. One is a prominent professional soccer player! But another is an unemployed  wannabe actor. Another is a meth addict. His children in their early 20s have become winners and losers from all walks of life.

Which gets to the heart of “Starbuck.” Thanks to radically changing cultural values and unthinkable advances in science, the 1950s definition of a family hardly fits anyone anymore.

David wants nothing to do with the traditional responsibilities of fathers, mothers and their children. Yet, once he learns the identities of several he has fathered himself, his slacker heart begins to strengthen.

There are lots more complications before the ending, of course. But the journey is a heartwarming one that points to ways all of us can become more important to each other.

Imaging that Vince Vaughn’s screen personality could make such a sweeping journey of courage just isn’t possible.

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