Movie Review - Starbuck

Director and co-writer Ken Scott made this film in Canada and it's in the French language. It was released in 2011 in Quebec. It didn't come to the United States until 2013. In the meantime, Scott was able to write and direct an American remake of this movie with Vince Vaughn.

Many foreign-language films are remade for American audiences. Often, it's done because the foreign film was such an international hit or had a crazy cult-following like The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo or Oldboy. Scott's film might have been a success, but probably not because the remake doesn't even retain the original film's name. The remake is called Delivery Man. Clearly, Scott is doing the remake because of his love of either the story or the character and wants to share it to a wider audience.

The story is of a man donating anonymously to a sperm bank and then nearly 25 years later he learns that his donation led to the creation of 533 children. 142 of which are filing a class action lawsuit to figure out who he is. Meanwhile, he's in debt and is trying to patch things up with his pregnant girlfriend.

Patrick Huard stars as David, a delivery man for his father's butcher shop. He owes $80,000 to either a loan shark or perhaps a bookie. Every now and then, he gets threatened by thugs who work for the bookie. They get him wet, seemingly to drown him in the bathtub but they always leave and never really hurt him.

This is a failing of Scott's screenplay. Yes, his character needs a motivation to get money, but we never truly get a fleshing out of those thugs to know the nature of David's debt nor do we ever truly feel like he's in danger. The threat is instead played for laughs, but in a way that dismisses it as a throwaway joke and not as integral or important to the plot.

David resists at first, but he then visits several of his children. He visits about 10 of them but under false pretenses. Scott directs David's visits in a superficial manner for the purposes of a montage. The problem is we don't get to know these 10 or so children, beyond a superficial impression of where they work or one particular hobby they have.

For example, David learns that one of his children is Ricardo Donatelli, a famous soccer player, and this peaks David's interest. At first, I assumed that because of his debts David was interested in Ricardo in the hopes of hitting him up for money. Later, David's interest seems solely based on his love of soccer and his wanting to take ownership or pride in perhaps the transferring of that love and ability to Ricardo. Yet, there's no follow-up, so that question is never answered.

Another of David's sons is Étienne, a waiter who is aspiring to be an actor. Étienne is upset because he is going to miss an audition because he has to tend bar. David decides to cover for him, so that Étienne can go, but we never learn anything else about Étienne's life. Has he been studying acting for a while? Is this audition just an opportunity that popped up randomly? All information about Étienne stops and no attempt at getting more is made.

David even meets a daughter of his named Julie who turns out to be a drug addict. David helps her out, but again we get nothing about why she was a drug addict or even if she gets the gravity that she almost died, or what her family life and childhood was like. Julie like the other children that David visits aren't fleshed out characters. They're archetypes.

There's even a brief sequence where David follows one of his children named Marco who works as a lifeguard at an indoor swimming pool. Scott and his co-writer probably named him Marco after the pool game Marco Polo, but Marco is revealed to be gay. Scott's ridiculous sequence has Marco go around and kiss seemingly a bunch of random men, reinforcing the archetype or rather stereotype that all gay men are sluts, and because Marco only has one or two lines, there is no depth explored or understanding reached of why Marco kissed all those men, who they were and what they meant. Again, all we're left with is the archetype.

As potentially offensive as that is, the real offense is an obvious emotional manipulation. It's when David meets his son Raphaël who is handicapped, confined to a wheelchair, unable to talk and supremely mentally-challenged. We assume that Raphaël was born with this affliction and that he suffers from cerebral palsy, but again we don't get circumstances or any other details.

The only exception is David's son Antoine who simply breaks into David's apartment one day. First, there's no explanation as to how Antoine found David, but, at least, we get personal details about Antoine that fleshes him out more as a character. There is even a bit of a relationship that develops between Antoine and David that was by far the most interesting thing about the movie. Yet, ultimately, that is given short shrift.

The last act of the movie focuses on the class action lawsuit that attempts to get David to reveal his identity to all of those created by his sperm donation. However, instead of showing us the court case and allow us to hear the lawyers make their arguments, director Ken Scott puts on a song on the soundtrack, cuts the dialogue and turns it into a montage.

Now, I can't tell if this is a failing or not because I think the legal arguments could have been interesting. Yes, the outcome was already a foregone conclusion because David had signed a document prior to donation clearly stating he wanted his identity to remain anonymous. It was obvious that the class action had no case, but it might have been fun in a nod to Ally McBeal, The Good Wife or something to have heard  that argument any how.

Nevertheless, the opening 10 to 15 minutes is really well directed and funny. Patrick Huard's performance is really good. He gets some good laughs. I just don't think the film was well-written after those first 15 minutes.

Two Stars out of Five.
Rated R for sexual content, language and some drug material.
Running Time: 1 hr. and 48 mins. 

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