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Papa, Can You Hear Me?

   It begins with a crass concept: A young man looking to make a quick buck becomes a frequent depositor at a nearby sperm bank. How frequent? Try 693 donations over a 23-month period resulting in 533 children, 142 of whom wish to know the identity of their fertile father.

   Less than 30 minutes in, however, it becomes clear that Starbuck, the French-Canadian film by director Ken Scott, is more than just a compilation of 'who's your daddy?' jokes. On the capable shoulders of leading man Patrick Huard, Starbuck is a witty and whimsical comedy full of surprises and warmth.

   Starbuck premiered at the Toronto International Film Festival to positive reviews and went on to place second in the festival's People's Choice Award. In March, it was released in Los Angeles and New York, and it has now moved on to Palm Beach County. The film opens today for a limited engagement in Boca Raton at the Living Room Cinema and Regal Shadowood 16, in Delray Beach at Regal Delray Beach 18 and Movies of Delray 5, and in Lake Worth at Movies of Lake Worth.

Antoine Bertrand (left) as David's lawyer and Patrick Huard as David Wozniak. Property of 2013 Entertainment One Films US.

   Patrick Huard portrays David Wozniak, a down-on-his-luck everyman who makes a living driving a delivery truck for his family's butcher business. He has the usual laundry list of slacker problems: He owes $80,000 to loan sharks that sporadically break into his apartment, he's slightly overweight and he just found out his girlfriend is pregnant. When he learns his frequent trips to the sperm bank twenty years ago (all performed under the alias Starbuck) led to 533 children, 142 of whom are suing the bank to reveal his identity, David's life gets a bit more complicated. He enlists his good friend and semi-legitimate lawyer (played with comedic force by Antoine Bertrand) to defend his anonymity.

Patrick Huard as David Wozniak. Property of 2013 Entertainment One Films US.

   Before a trial begins, however, David is presented with an envelope containing the identities of each child. Unable to help himself, David picks a paper at random, and the child turns out to be a famous soccer player. After catching one of his professional games, David is overcome with parental pride. "It's like an extension of me scored the game-winning goal," he says. He becomes addicted to seeking out his children, not to reveal his identity but to act as a guardian angel of sorts to each and every one.

   At its core, Starbuck is a story about accepting people at their worst and loving them at their best. David's girlfriend Valérie (Julie LeBreton) struggles with letting David into the life of their unborn child, even before he reveals to her that he's fathered 533 others. But there's more to David than his slacker attitude. Much like an onion, his sour qualities are only on the surface. Begin to peel back the layers and you find a deeply senstive and selfless man. David's widowed father sums it up best: "If you can live with his shortcomings, you're in for plenty of beautiful surprises as well."

   This statement could act as the thesis of Martin Petit and Ken Scott's script. With family, no matter the size, the goal is always to embrace them wholeheartedly. This concept can verge on the cheesy from time to time (there is literally a 146-person group hug at one point) but those moments are undercut by dry, painfully funny humor ("This is a bit weird, huh?" David's brother murmurs during the aforementioned hug). Few comedies succeed in striking such a balance, and that characteristic alone makes Starbuck a must-see.

   After Starbuck's success in Canada, American studios came knocking. Dreamworks bought the rights to the script and is producing an English version entitled Delivery Man and starring Vince Vaughn, Cobie Smulders (Robin on How I Met Your Mother) and Chris Pratt (Andy on Parks and Recreation) with Ken Scott returning to direct. Palm Beach County residents are now presented with a unique opportunity: You can catch the original Starbuck during its limited release–which starts today–and then see Delivery Man upon its national release in October 2013. Then, let us know what you think! Write to us and explain which you preferred and why. Films are given legs when you are able to discuss them with friends.

 

To learn more about Starbuck or to watch the trailer visit starbuckmovie.com.


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