If "Starbuck," the opening night selection of the Milwaukee Film Festival, is a sign of things to come in the next two weeks, movie fans can look forward to a lot of great cinema. The French-Canadian comedy, scheduled for release next March, takes a fairly bawdy story and makes it not only hilarious but effortlessly charming and surprisingly touching.
The film follows David Wozniak (Patrick Huard), a typically irresponsible slacker whose only skills include collecting parking tickets, debts and disappointed stares from his father, who doubles as his boss at a butcher shop. Despite his lackadaisical schemes â€“ including a failed attempt to create a pot garden â€“ and his irreverent lawyer's warnings, David would love to have kids.
But as one trite saying goes, be careful what you wish for. David discovers that, thanks to some anonymous sperm donations decades ago, he's not only the father of one child but 533 children, and 142 of them are filing a class action lawsuit to uncover his identity. While he's hesitant at first to get involved with his massive brood, much less reveal his embarrassing secret, he starts to warm up to some of the struggling young adults and begins acting as their bumbling guardian angel.
It's a loosely told story that works both for and against "Starbuck." On one hand, the lax storytelling creates an easy-going and comfortable vibe that fits co-writer/director Ken Scott's film. At the same time, it creates a few problems for the movie. The screenplay offers several jarringly dark turns â€“ one involves drug abuse â€“ and some of its subplots, like David's cute romance with his pregnant girlfriend, while still charming, don't get a ton of screen time to develop.
Luckily, the movie has a great performance at its heart from Huard. As "Starbuck" starts, his character seems like a prototyipcal lazy manchild that we've seen time and again in comedies, especially those with the Judd Apatow stamp of approval. Huard, however, aces the deadpan humor as well as the little nuances that make David and his dramas feel sincere, sweet and wholly original.
The whole film, in fact, finds that balance between its crude concept and its big, earnest heart. Even when "Starbuck" indulges in a surprisingly dark twist, Huard and Scott's direction find a way to make it somehow satisfying. When David finds out one of his 142 children is disabled, for instance, it could've ended in utter cinematic disaster. After all, this is a movie that starts with Huard masturbating into a cup, so taking on serious topics seems like a reach. However, it ends up being a surprisingly poignant sequence that doesn't weigh down the rest of the comedy as well.
Thanks to the impressive reviews and reactions coming out of film festivals, "Starbuck" has already been pegged for an American remake. On the good side, Scott is returning to write and direct. On the awful side, Vince Vaughn has been cast in the lead. I doubt Vaughn's often grating fast-talking everyman routine will make the lead character more endearing. Plus, most of the serious and emotional content of "Starbuck" will probably be Hollywood-ized into something far more accessible â€“ and bland.
Of course, this is all speculation, and with Scott back behind the camera, the remake might be able to maintain some of its predecessor's wit. That being said, I'd still hunt down the original "Starbuck" before its charm and humor risk getting lost in translation.
No Talkbacks for this article.
Post your comment/review now
Disclaimer: Please note that Facebook comments are posted through Facebook and cannot be approved, edited or declined by OnMilwaukee.com. The opinions expressed in Facebook comments do not necessarily reflect those of OnMilwaukee.com or its staff.
Recent Articles & Blogs by Matt Mueller
Published June 24, 2016
As OnMilwaukee's resident insufferable millennial, it is my job to look at the Summerfest lineup every year, scoff at all the bands and then resume snarkily Snapchatting a GIF-storm. However, there's still a lot worthy of your earholes this year.
Published June 21, 2016
Before the champagne had dried on the Cavaliers' celebration Sunday night, people already began looking for which sports fans were the saddest now that that city's losing streak was over. And wouldn't you know it, it's us. But really, Milwaukee is not the next Cleveland.
Published June 20, 2016
Inspired by an unexpected collaborator located several miles south, Postman's Plot - found on Wells Street and 2nd Street - now has an updated look with a plethora of new seating options and a mailbox to send letters to Milwaukee.
Published June 18, 2016
Businessman and star of CNBC's "The Profit" Marcus Lemonis has obviously gone places since his time at Marquette. But today, he's returned to the Cream City -- and he's apparently bringing some cameras with him.
Published June 13, 2016
The alt pop sister duo of Lily & Madeline have found an infectious combination of mesmerizing mellow music and potent, passionate lyrics. They'll bring that hypnotic mix to the Back Room at Colectivo Coffee on Prospect on Wednesday night.
Published June 13, 2016
According to a report from TMZ, rapper Lil Wayne's private jet from Milwaukee to California had to make an emergency landing today in Omaha, Neb., after the rapper suffered a seizure mid-flight.
Published June 13, 2016
Hearts and minds throughout the nation and the globe were with those who lost their lives and those who lost loved ones in Orlando. On Monday afternoon, City Hall joined in paying tribute and showing love, hanging a large pride flag from the building.
Published June 11, 2016
Ciclovia MKE will take to the streets for the first time this year on Sunday, June 12, shutting down several blocks for an afternoon of open streets, car-free commuting and community building through arts, activities and staying active.
Published June 8, 2016
Even though Milwaukee brands like Boy Blue or Mrs. Howe's are no longer adorning our streets or our grocery store shelves, you might start seeing them around town a little more often. Or at least their classic logos, thanks to Bygone Brand's T-shirts.
Published May 30, 2016
The Tony-winning musical "Kinky Boots" - coming to the Marcus Center starting Tuesday night - is a bold, bright tale of family, acceptance and fabulousness. For actor J. Harrison Ghee, however, it's a story that goes beyond just the stage.