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I don’t know what the French equivalent for “fuck-up” is, but David Wozniak has probably been called it a lot. In his 40-some years in Montreal, he’s been a failure at pretty much everything. His pregnant girlfriend would rather raise their baby alone than have to depend on him for anything. He’s deep in debt, and not with the kind of loans that you can renegotiate. He thinks a sound business investment is paying $500 for a Hall and Oates guitar pick. He only has a job because his father owns a successful butcher shop.

The one skill he has, he hasn’t even exercised in 20 years: As a young man, he raised money for a vacation for his parents my selling his sperm to a clinic every day for 23 months. The clinic certainly got their money’s worth: As a lawsuit against them reveals David is the father of 533 children. And 142 of them want to know who he is.

With a premise like this, you might expect an homage to the finale of Buster Keaton’s Seven Chances, with a hundred women in bridal dresses replaced by 142 young men and women calling “Mon père! Mon père!” as they chase David down Rue St. Catherine. Or perhaps a tip of the hat to Peter Greenaway’s The Falls as David looks up so many people connected by this one random event.

Instead, Starbuck is the model of what Québécois audiences like in a comedy: a bit of bawdiness, a soupçon of buffoonery, and a lot of sentimentality. As played by Patrick Huard, David is unshaven, unkempt, and bearish, but not so slovenly to be unappealing. (One of the film’s funniest moment involves a bear hug among 146 people.) The plot is casual at best, but doesn’t get in the way of David’s maturation. Writer-director Ken Scott has already filmed an American remake, retitled Delivery Man and due in theaters this October. Unfortunately his star will be Vince Vaughn, who is at his worst with this kind of material. See the original while you have the chance.

Watch the trailer for Starbuck

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