It’s difficult to imagine a feel good movie about sperm donation, and yet, that’s exactly what Ken Scott’s Starbuck is. Starbuck, the donation alias of David Wozniack (Patrick Huard), ends up becoming the unwitting father of 533 children—142 of which have filed a class action suit against the LaFrance Clinic (where he donated between 1988 and 1990) to find out the identity of their father. Largely an ill-fated fuck-up, Wozniack gradually begins to view this newfound information as his raison d’être (the French flourish was necessary. After all, the story is set in Quebec).
Already recently informed by his girlfriend, Valérie (Julie LeBreton), that they’re going to have a baby, Wozniack, a meat delivery man (ignore the euphemistic overtones), has been bombarded with reasons—all of the propagating variety—to change his ways and become a better person. Unfortunately, this desire to become better is negated by an $80,000 dollar debt he owes to some gangsters that are rather fond of randomly showing up at his apartment and drowning him in his bathtub. And, although the gangsters are Canadian, they’re still fairly ominous and pesky (though not as pesky as the fact that the cause of this $80,000 dollar debt is never broached upon).
To supplement his minimal income in order to repay his debt, Wozniack attempts to grow pot in his apartment, with little success. He goes so far as to shamelessly ask his brother (Marc Bélanger), a butcher at Wozniack & Sons, to help him, as he’s the one with the green thumb in the family. But even this brother, the more sympathetic one—actually called "Frère Symathique" in the credits—refuses to play into David’s slacker methods for moneymaking. Desperate for cash, David turns to his lawyer friend, (Antoine Bertrand), who, like David’s brothers, has no name except “Avocat” (lawyer). His friend, in turn, insists that David should sue the clinic for threatening to expose his identity.
By this time, even though he’s met many of his children and acted as their “guardian angel,” helping one son get an audition here and preventing another daughter from going to a methadone clinic there, David is too enslaved by his debt to ignore the potential wealth from such a lawsuit. In the meantime, all of Quebec (which is the bulk of Canada that really matters) and beyond has heard the repugnant tale of a masturbating fiend who has somehow managed to father hundreds of children.
While no one bothers to question the reasons behind the elusive Starbuck’s motives for so many generous donations—assuming he’s just a lazy, money-hungry asshole—the intention behind David’s fiendish self-love from 1988 to 1990 stemmed from his desire to take his family on a trip to Venice before his mother died of cancer. It is one of the least maudlin of all the maudlin revelations of the film—the most cringe-worthy scene being after David has his 534th child and his other offspring come to the hospital and engage in a giant group hug with him.
I suppose the core message of Starbuck isn’t difficult to glean, but it is difficult to swallow (much like sperm in a cup): No matter how worthless your life is, you can always redeem yourself by telling others you had a child or two or five hundred. It’s a get out of jail free card for uselessness. Apparently, it’s a beloved enough theme to have warranted Ken Scott remaking the movie into the current box office hit, Delivery Man, with Vince Vaughn.