Friday, April 5, 2013


The French sperm-donor comedy "Starbuck," which may evoke repressed memories of the Corbin Bernsen vehicle "Frozen Assets," is made with that inimitable Gallic sense of humor -- that everybody hates.
You know, that puerile, unsophisticated, back-slapping, ho-ho-hunh-hunh humor that's as sharp and au courant as a rerun of "Three's Company." The story involves a loser straight out of Central Casting who learns that the thousands of deposits he made at a sperm bank to pay for college have made him the father of 533, 142 of whom have filed a class action to discover his identity. He hires his married-dad buddy to represent him - re-activating his bar membership will be, he assures him, "a mere formality" - giving rise to a series of bizarre scenes in which they discuss the possibility of "pleading insanity," a concept as relevant to a civil class action as the Eighth Amendment is to toxic torts. (But, hey, they're all legal, so the idiots in the audience won't know any better.) This is followed by an endless and insufferable series of scenes in which our sad-sack hero anonymously spies on, attends to, and does favors for his disparate adult children, who include a soccer star, an aspiring actor, a junkie, and what used to be called a vegetable. The filmmakers seem to have conceived of these moments as though they might tug on the heartstrings. The effect is akin to watching a "very special" episode of "Mr. Belvedere."

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