In remaking his 2011 French Canadian surprise hit Starbuck, filmmaker Ken Scott doesn't really try to do anything new. Aside from transplanting the story to New York and casting Hollywood star Vince Vaughn, it's exactly the same movie: likeable enough, even without attempting to do anything new or solve the problems of the original film.
Vaughn plays David, a slacker trying to pay off his debts and support his newly pregnant girlfriend (Smulders) by delivering meat for his butcher dad (Blumenfeld). Then David learns that, after donating sperm 20 years earlier, he has 533 biological children. When 142 file a class-action suit to learn the identity of the donor "Starbuck", David hires his inexperienced lawyer pal Brett (Pratt) to represent him in court. In the mean time, he begins to quietly follow his "kids" around like a sort of guardian angel. Then the press gets hold of the story, and he worries that his identity will be revealed.
Without trying too hard, Vaughn brings considerable charm to this character, so we like him even though David has no direction in his life. Vaughn is great at balancing the comical and dramatic elements of the story, notably in his hilarious scenes with Pratt and the more emotional interaction with three of the kids (Reynor, Robertson and Chanler-Berat). There's also a significant, moving sequence at the end between Vaughn and Blumenfeld.
On the other hand, the script feels oddly underdeveloped. As in the original film, it never acknowledges that these young people all have actual birth families of their own, and it only takes a cursory swipe at diversity (one is disabled, one gay, one mixed race and so on). Even worse is the irrelevant loan-shark subplot, which serves no purpose at all beyond generating some artificial tension. Fortunately, Scott keeps the focus on David's internal journey, which lets the film shift gently from silly comedy to more darkly moving drama. It may not be believable, and it's utterly unnecessary if you've seen Starbuck, but it'll leave a smile on your face.
Run time: 105 mins
In Theaters: Friday 22nd November 2013
Box Office USA: $30.7M
Distributed by: Walt Disney Pictures
Production compaines: DreamWorks SKG, Touchstone Pictures
Contactmusic.com: 3.5 / 5
Rotten Tomatoes: 39%
Fresh: 52 Rotten: 83
IMDB: 6.4 / 10
Director: Ken Scott
Producer: Andre Rouleau
Screenwriter: Ken Scott
Starring: Vince Vaughn as David, Cobie Smulders as Emma, Chris Pratt as Brett, Britt Robertson as Kristen, Jack Reynor as Josh, Bobby Moynihan as Aleksy, Andrzej Blumenfeld as Mikolaj, Simon Delaney as Victor, Dave Pattenden as Adam, Adam Chanler-Berat as Viggo, Amos VanderPoel as Taylor, Matthew Daddario as Channing
Also starring: Ken Scott