My first attempt at writing this review of Heretic Film’s Starbucking documentary was zapped into nonexistence due to my computer locking up. At first I was more than mildly upset at such a thing happening, but eventually I figured that it made sense for my computer to seize up on me as if it had gone into caffeine lock-up after having had 99 million cups of coffee. So, here I go to try again…
Starbucking, from director Bill Tangeman, is a glimpse into the window of a life spent in search of a perhaps unattainable object. Much like the knights of old, or in this case a very highly caffeinated individual named Winter, quests were often something used to define oneself against the rest of the world. Dedicating your life to a goal ostensibly provides a way to measure out the value of your own existence. Making each moment count, y’know?
I’m not sure, however, what Winter’s quest says about how his life will measure up at the end of his days. Seeking to visit every single Starbucks store that ever opens, at the very least it will add up to him becoming the most caffeinated human in history.
Judging by what I’ve written so far I guess it is fairly easy to see that I’m not all that convinced that this is something any adult should obsessively devote their life to, but then again, who am I to talk? Though Winter may be obsessive about his quest, at the cost of personal relationships and financial security, who is to say that his life is any better or worse than mine?
Here is a man who has a job, is a capable member of society, and something to chase after that not only gives him a reason to get up every morning but also provides him the chance to travel and experience parts of the world that he might not otherwise see. How is that something deserving of anything less than my applause?
And yet, there are moments in this film that restrain me from cheering Winter on in his quest. Every moment where they show him changing in his car, frantically twitching from one too many cups of coffee, wrecking the only lengthy relationship he’s ever had in his life, sucking spilled coffee frantically out of his car’s cup holder with a straw, etc., I just see a man obsessed to the point of ruin.
I can’t cheer for that.
What I can do, however, is thank Heretic Films for showing me this side of human nature. Sitting comfortable in my own home and with my own obsessive ticks and quirks, it never occurred to me the lengths that some individuals are capable of going to just to meet their own inner needs, even if they are arbitrarily random needs such as frequenting every branch of a particular coffee shop.
From the moment I popped this DVD into my player, I’d expected something light-hearted and throwaway. What else other than sheer throwaway entertainment could this be, y’know? Instead, I get a glimpse into someone else’s soul and get to vividly see that others are struggling to give purpose to their lives, just as I am.
Funny. I’d never thought that one of the ways I’d get another small kernel of understanding my species and myself would be by looking into the spent dregs of a Starbucks coffee cup. In the end, I find myself heartily recommending this movie to anyone curious as to where obsession and the very human need to have a purpose will drive someone.
Neither Winter's website nor his documentary are affiliated with Starbucks Coffee — and neither is this review, as there are no Starbucks in my small Arkansas town.