Starbuck

13 Apr

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Synopsis: “As his lover announces her pregnancy, a fortysomething slacker receives other life-changing news: 142 people, all of them the result of artificial insemination, have filed a class action lawsuit against him, their biological father.” (Rated R; 1 hour, 49 minutes)

When a movie has subtitles and is seen in a little art house cinema, should that make it better than mainstream fluff? Of course not, it just means it’s on a lower budget and has passed through more hoops to get onto American screens, so we’re often USED to only the best of the best making their way here.

No, this is by no means a great movie, it’s not even a very good movie in fact, but it’s an enjoyable film that I’m not surprised is coming out later this year with its own American remake starring Vince Vaughn. In fact, the little bit of  research I’ve done is telling…Starbuck was a French Canadian movie that actually came out in 2011. It was a huge hit for Quebec but was never released in American for some reason (maybe because it’s cute, but not great?). Then, just months before the Vince Vaughn starring remake is scheduled to be released in theaters, they brought the original to theaters here. I suppose that makes sense, since I left this silly but likable movie wanting to know if they’ll take the best elements of it, remove the silly unbelievable parts, and make a better remake. Probably not, but a movie-lover can dream, can’t he?

The movie itself stars Patrick Huard as a pretty convincing loser. A guy who has made nothing of his life, and you really have no reason to trust that he’s going to ever stop being a loser. Then he finds out his sperm donations from decades earlier fathered 533 children. While trying to avoid them finding out who he is, he finds himself looking into his kids one by one, not telling them who he is. That’s the basic premise and of course I won’t give spoilers. What I will say is the good, the bad and the ugly:

The good

The story was sweet, with plenty of touching and funny moments. It’s basically a movie that was built to be a fluffy crowd-pleaser, and it did its job. He’s a funny loser, his best friend/lawyer is a big fat funny loser, and there are plenty of decent laughs. Some of the moments between him and his unknowing kids were poignant, especially one who lives with special needs. And one way or another you end up rooting for him and this movie to have a happy ending. Like I said, it’s made to be a crowd-pleaser.

The bad

So much of what I described above just FELT manufactured and trite. It was extremely predictable from start to finish. Many of the lines of dialogue just felt…off. And if you will indulge me for a moment, I want to compare this movie to something seemingly random: last year’s violent cop drama End Of Watch. Before you start thinking I’m a crazy person, there’s logic behind my madness. The fantastic and riveting movie from last year suffered from one potential flaw: too much crazy stuff kept happening. Just about every day that Jake Gyllenhaal and Michael Peña went through was the most dramatic, insane thing that should happen once in the lifetime of an actual cop. It was basically a movie that countless policemen said was AMAZING, but totally unbelievable how much each scene was contrived to drum up endless amounts of drama in the movie. This wasn’t necessarily even a flaw, because once you accepted that you would be watching over-the-top things happening, they were made oh-so-well, and you were on the edge of your seat excited, scared and concerned for the characters. It really was one of the best films of 2012.

So what does that have to do with Starbuck? His character would randomly look into each of his kids, but he would catch so many of them in over-the-top dramatic moments of their lives. Instead of just watching them serve coffee in a coffee shop, or walk to work as a lawyer, he would catch them in the midst of crises or other “big” moments, and at a certain point you couldn’t help but feel the behind-the-scenes machinations of the writers creating drama just to make the movie “bigger”. Sensationalism at the cost of authenticity. Plenty of Hollywood movies do it, and I’m sure the remake will do the same, but somehow when I watch a popular foreign film I just…have higher expectations that it won’t stoop to such manipulative, predictable tricks. Still, some of it was portrayed with tenderness and was still effectively sweet.

The ugly

There were certain moments that I can’t really get into because they would spoil the plot; scenes that were SO inane and illogical that Adi and Sarah each turned to me and rolled their eyes at the same time. Listen, when a woman gives birth she is NOT walking around normally (with no help nor hospital staff) an hour later as if nothing happened. I’m not someone who cares when they mess up technical jargon in movies, but this is pretty basic stuff here, sheesh. And when an entire decision that the main character has to make is based on something that MAKES NO SENSE, and that the movie doesn’t even try to address, explain or fix, it is simply infuriating. It creates a crux to the movie that holds no weight, and as a result just loses the audience a bit. This doesn’t matter much in straight up comedies, because you’re less interested in the characters and it’s mostly about the jokes along the way. But a movie like Starbuck isn’t SUPPOSED to just be a dumb comedy; it’s meant to be a sweet comedy, like Little Miss Sunshine, something that makes you laugh but also makes you care a great deal. In order for that to fully work, you can’t be silently screaming at key elements of the premise! I really hope that the American remake will fix these pieces, but moments ago I just lost most of my optimism that any significant fixes would be made. Why? Because I just researched who will be writing and directing this remake, would you care to guess? Ken Scott, the SAME writer/director who made this original. Here’s to hoping he recognized his own flaws and is looking to redeem those mistakes…

At the end of the day, I’ve spent so much time putting down the movies’ downsides, but truly you won’t be able to help but enjoy the story and how it develops. It’s never great, but you should feel yourself rooting for him and laughing enough times that it makes a nice little 2 hours in the cinema. I just hope that it will end up as the rare time that a big budget American remake is better than the original.

The movie was better than Made In America, a lame 1993 comedy where Ted Danson was a sperm donor for Whoopi Goldberg. It wasn’t as good as the underrated Jason Bateman comedy The Switch, where he “accidentally” donated his sperm to Jennifer Aniston, which was a much funnier and more touching than people gave credit for.

Quality Rating: B-

Boaz Rating: B+

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11 Responses to “Starbuck”

  1. Linda Hepner April 14, 2013 at 8:26 pm #

    Go also to see Angel’s Breath! It’s on at the Royal where they say they’re not afraid of subtitles!

    >________________________________ > From: Boaz’s Movie Obsession >To: lrhepner@yahoo.com >Sent: Sunday, April 14, 2013 7:28 PM >Subject: [New post] Starbuck > > > > WordPress.com >boazconstrictor posted: ” Synopsis: “As his lover announces her pregnancy, a fortysomething slacker receives other life-changing news: 142 people, all of them the result of artificial insemination, have filed a class action lawsuit against him, their biological father.”(Rated” >

    Like

  2. boazconstrictor April 14, 2013 at 11:39 pm #

    I hadn’t even heard of it, thanks for the suggestion, I’ll put it on my list of a slew of movies I’m hoping to catch. 🙂

    Like

  3. MikesFilmTalk April 17, 2013 at 7:26 am #

    Good review mate! And thanks for stopping by and following my little blog! As we film fans need to stick together, I’ve returned the favour! Cheers mate!! 😀

    Like

    • boazconstrictor April 17, 2013 at 10:36 am #

      Awesome, so flattered you came by and became a follower, hope you end up enjoying what you read 🙂

      Like

      • MikesFilmTalk April 17, 2013 at 10:43 am #

        From what I’ve seen so far? I will! Cheers mate! 😀

        Like

  4. Tim McFarlane April 19, 2013 at 6:38 am #

    Another solid review. I should have found and read them sooner.

    Like

    • boazconstrictor April 19, 2013 at 9:52 am #

      Thank you Tim, that’s very high praise from one blogger to another! 🙂

      Like

  5. table9mutant April 20, 2013 at 3:35 pm #

    Good review. I was thinking this was at least an interesting concept when I saw the trailer for it but it sounds very poorly executed. :-/

    Like

    • boazconstrictor April 20, 2013 at 9:49 pm #

      Yeah, though still enough of a crowd-pleaser that you should have a good time. Still, hoping Vince Vaughn is magically in a better version…somehow.

      Like

  6. peterfinnfilms April 21, 2013 at 8:28 pm #

    Interesting review. Clearly, I liked it considerably more than you did. I didn’t LOVE the film, though: for me, a 10 out of 10 means a film is consistently enjoyable and any flaws it might have are temporary and don’t bring the whole film down. I mentioned the sometimes cloying attempts at emotion in my own review. By the way, sorry it took so long to get back to you, but I’ve been very busy lately.

    Like

    • boazconstrictor April 21, 2013 at 9:56 pm #

      Oh please don’t apologize, I really appreciate you taking a look and the time to write. I really do like reading your reviews all the moreso due to their different attitudes!
      If you end up enjoying the one you read or any of the others, I certainly welcome you and invite you to follow. Either way thank you for writing!

      Like

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