Thursday, April 11, 2013

Ah, Those Studly Canadians


“Starbuck” is a Stud, Literally

By Skip Sheffield

Canadians, especially those from the Province of Quebec, are more sophisticated about sex than typical Americans.
This thought sprang to mind after seeing “Starbuck,” a French-Canadian romantic comedy about artificial insemination and its ramifications.
Written by Ken Scott with Martin Petit and directed by Scott, “Starbuck” was shot in 2011 but is only just now making it to area theaters.
The title is a sly reference to a prize Holstein bull that sired thousands of offspring.
The “bull” is this story is an otherwise unremarkable middle-aged man named David Wozniak (Patrick Huard). David, 42, has a menial job working as delivery boy at his Polish immigrant father’s (Igor Ovadis) butcher shop. As a young man in 1988 David was more on his own. He lived above a fertility clinic. Due to his unusually potent sperm, he made easy cash on a regular basis by donating.
Now David has a lovely girlfriend named Valerie (Julie Breton) who has revealed she is pregnant. David is willing to marry Valerie, but she would rather be a single mom because she thinks he is too irresponsible and immature.
Valerie is right. David’s bad decisions have run him $80,000 in debt, with loan sharks hot on his trail.
In the midst of this mess, a lawyer from the sperm bank pays a surprise visit and informs David he fathered 533 children over a two-year period. One hundred forty-three of those children have entered into a class action suit to find out who their father is. The clinic does not like this.
David consults his best friend Antoine (David Michael), also a lawyer, for advice. Antoine furnishes bios on each of the plaintiffs in the suit, and David vows to visit each one.
Meanwhile David’s dad is attacked by the same thugs who are harassing David. This serves as a wakeup call. David had been planning to identify himself as the mystery father, but Antoine persuades him to sue the clinic for damages in exchange for remaining anonymous.
This is all a lot funnier than the telling. Patrick Huard is a gifted comedian with everyman appeal. Writers Ken Scott and Martin Petit are members of a French-Canadian comedy troupe called “Les Bizarroides,” and they have a way with clever word play.
I am still fluent enough in French to understand the dialogue without subtitles. It is a kick to see subtle differences in literal translation.
“Starbuck” was the most popular Canadian film of 2011, and its appeal is not restricted to French speakers. An English version produced by Steven Spielberg and starring Vince Vaughn is in the works. Here is your chance to see the real deal.

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