A journey to adulthood starts with a sperm bank

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Entertainment,Movies,Kelly Jane Torrance

The remake of "Starbuck" has already been filmed -- though the original is just opening in theaters today. It's a shame that many Americans, not fond of subtitles, will wait to see "The Delivery Man," starring Vince Vaughn and slated to open this fall. But it's a clue to the quality of the French-Canadian original that its rights were snapped up so quickly, and that it was remade with the same director responsible for the original at the helm.

It's hard to imagine the remake being any funnier. The French farce is a familiar genre, and one that translates well around the world, as the success of Francis Veber's films -- and their many remakes, including "The Toy" -- prove. The protagonist of "Starbuck" is a lovable loser in the vein of Veber's many lovable losers, too.

David (Patrick Huard) is 42 going on 12. It's not that he's immature. He's just not grown up. All he's managed to accomplish is becoming the deliveryman to his family's butcher shop -- and not a very good one -- and accumulating $80,000 worth of debt. His great idea for paying that off is a little home hydroponic operation. ("I'm having trouble, and you're the only one I know with a green thumb," he says in trying to persuade a more responsible friend to help.) He tries to make things right, but he never seems to succeed. Banks won't give him loans, and he can't understand why. When a loan officer tells him he needs assets to back up the loan, he looks at the guy with real surprise and says, "So basically you're a big pawn shop." It's hard to argue with his thinking.

On screen
'Starbuck'
» Rating: 3 out of 4 stars
» Starring: Patrick Huard, Antoine Bertrand, Julie LeBreton
» Director: Ken Scott
» Rated: R for sexual content, language and some drug material
» Running time: 109 minutes

But David is about to become an adult, in the way many men do -- by accidentally impregnating his girlfriend. How this guy even managed to get into bed with Valerie (Julie LeBreton) is anyone's guess -- but such things always happen in the movies. David decides to embrace fatherhood: "I want order in my life." Valerie isn't so sure she even wants David to be involved as a parent. But it turns out he already is one. To make a quick buck -- obviously a tradition for David -- he donated sperm over a few years a couple decades back. A lot of sperm. He's fathered 533 children, and 142 of them are suing the sperm bank to learn the identity of their father.

As you can imagine, there's plenty of comedy to be found in a man visiting the (many) adult children he never knew he had, when he's still really a child himself. The plot is quite thin, but the movie is winning because David is a screw-up but his heart is in the right place. Just think of how he responds to the clinic's lawyer, who explains why David fathered so many test tube babies with,"You have high-quality sperm." David immediately reassures the lawyer, "I'm sure yours isn't so bad either."

This is a male-heavy movie. We don't see enough of Valerie -- and not just because she's the most attractive thing in the film. But this is David's journey, I suppose. Valerie is already a fully formed adult, and David is most certainly not.

You can wait for the remake, but you'd be missing out on a lot of laughs -- and a beautiful Frenchwoman -- in the meantime.

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