The issue of anonymity regarding sperm donation has long been a contentious one, and French-Canadian filmmaker Ken Scott's Starbuck takes a hypothetical question, and weaves it into the real world. The film follows forty-something layabout, David Wazniak (Patrick Huard)- a loveable, soccer-obsessed (sic) slacker who works for his father as a meat delivery boy. As David learns that he is to become a parent, he is forced to turn his life around and assume responsibility for himself. Unfortunately, this coincides with the filing of a class-action lawsuit against David by 142 of his artificially inseminated children, who only know their biological father by the name Starbuck. When David learns of his newfound progeny, he goes about tracking down each of his children and assuming the role of Guardian Angel, whilst facing the dilemma of whether to reveal his true identity.
Starbuck arrives on the back of great success in Quebec, becoming the most successful French-Canadian film of all time. It is easy to see why; its characters are immediately likable, the script is warm and funny, and Patrick Huard's performance as the avuncular, yet reluctant parent is perfectly pitched. The success of the movie rests on whether you can sympathise with a main character who has made some very questionable decisions, and thanks to Huard, you'll be rooting for him all the way.
As the plot progresses, there are some storylines that seem to be shelved and a relationship with a severely disabled child tends to jab, rather than tug at the heartstrings. There are moments in Starbuck that may be too saccharine for some, but there is enough bite and comic relief to stop it descending into melodrama.
The film has a warmth and charm to it that will inevitably see it labelled a crowd-pleaser, and it does struggle to fully deal with some of the important issues it raises. However, behind the gushing sentiment and some contrived plotting, is a simple and clever idea that is very well executed and genuinely up-lifting.
Starbuck is released in the UK 23 November. 15. (109 mins)