What must it be like to grow up without a father, without even knowing who your father is? Now multiply that by 142. This is the number of people who are suing to find out who their father is — and they all have the same father. The title character in the film “Starbuck” fathered 533 children at a sperm bank, in effect, 23 years before the movie starts. The lawyer who shows up at code name “Starbuck”’s home tells him that his identity may become public record.
As preposterously casual as the scripting is, this comedy sustains fun throughout, along with a fair amount of tenderness and hopeful charm. The prolific sperm bank feat isn’t really the preposterous element. It’s concocting two hours of doing justice to some kind of fatherly role times 142.
This French-Canadian film pokes you gently throughout. You will enjoy the winner inside the loser, played low key by Patrick Huard. In this unparalleled contrivance of family values, you are unlikely to be dragged down by any of the substantive issues underpinning the story.
Although several of the 142 half-siblings get an affecting amount of screen time, and all 142, it seems, appear several times to manifest the premise, the whole story channels through Huard becoming father Starbuck.
Huard is a pleasing version of Gerard Depardieu. Whether you like Depardieu or not (chacun à son goût) or you never heard of him, Huard blends an easy movie flavor to digest.
Starbuck is a screw up. He’s a likeable screw up, somehow. He stacks up irresponsibilities of various sizes that are disconnected from the legitimate side job he thought he had left behind long ago. His only chance to get his act together is to live in a peculiar gloss of a film like this one.
Many films have a promising concept and never generate much from it. No one will hail “Starbuck” as a great concept, but it’s actually rather enjoyable to watch this movie find a tone that works well in transcending its limitations.
Chuck Jaffee of Nevada City likes to plug people into the spirit of independent filmmakers. Find his other articles for The Union at http://startlets.com.