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Starbuck, What Maisie Knew, Detention of the Dead

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Starbuck

Starbuck (R)

Entertainment One

Had the 2011 French-Canadian comedy-drama Starbuck hit theaters this year, it would have rocketed to the top of my "Best of 2013" list. Unfortunately, it's just reaching DVD for us now, right in time for the upcoming Vince Vaughn-remake The Delivery Man, which I'm sure will suck out every bit of the original's charms and sweetness. Patrick Huard gives a delightfully feel-good performance as David, a 40-ish-year-old man who has never really had any responsibility in his life. This changes when his girlfriend informs him that she's pregnant and that, thanks to numerous sperm donations over the years, he's also the father of 533 children, most of whom want to meet him. As he secretly intercedes in their lives he starts to change his own life, and if your heart doesn't grow two sizes bigger, you're a lost cause. Starbuck is the kind of movie that Judd Apatow used to make: a comedy with heart. — Louis Fowler

What Maisie Knew

What Maisie Knew (R)

Millennium (releases Aug. 2 on Amazon Instant Video)

Julianne Moore and Steve Coogan are the top-billed talent in this closely observed, magnificently rendered look at divorce through the eyes of a child. The center of gravity in the parents' tug-of-war is Maisie, a grade-schooler with eyes that betray more weariness than a girl her age should possess. Played by Onata Aprile, Maisie absorbs the verbal missiles her mom and dad direct at each other, but never lets herself be upended in the way that being the subject of a bitter custody battle between a past-her-prime rock star and a slimy Manhattan art dealer might permit. Instead, she finds temporary relief in the form of both parents' second chances at happiness — Maisie's awesome nanny and a nice-guy bartender. True to their subject matter, the filmmakers hesitate to offer answers or clear winners and losers, but What Maisie Knew is one of this year's highlights. — Justin Strout

Detention of the Dead

Detention of the Dead (NR)

Anchor Bay Home Entertainment

Speaking of detention, someone should have really kept director Alex Craig Mann after film class and had him write, "I will not make shitty zombie films" on the chalkboard 500 times. I don't know if it would have helped, but it would have at least been worth a shot, because Detention of the Dead is an execrable exercise in turning The Breakfast Club into a zombie movie, an idea that's at least 10 years too late. The main problem with Detention? It's just lazy, wallowing in stupid stereotypes and even stupider jokes that, much like detention, leave you staring at the clock, counting the seconds until this is done. It's also left me realizing that the first resort of unimaginative filmmakers is the zombie movie. Enough already. There is absolutely nothing to be said about zombies anymore and, believe me, if there is, it's not going to come from you. — Louis Fowler

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