Delivery Man

**½

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Only half delivers.

Delivery Man

The H-Bomb: David Wozniak (Vince Vaughn) is an aimless slacker who is up to his neck in debt and can barely hold down a job as a delivery driver for his family’s meat shop. He owes one hundred grand to some shady mobster types, and he’s just learned that his sort-of girlfriend, Emma (Cobie Smulders), is pregnant with his child. Then, as if his life wasn’t already complicated enough, David’s misspent past comes back to haunt him in the worst (and most outlandish) way imaginable. It seems that roughly twenty years ago, David, under the alias “Starbuck,” made hundreds of donations to a private sperm bank for cash, and he now finds out that he is the biological father of over five hundred test tube babies.

Of those five hundred children, all of whom are grown, some one hundred of them have gotten together to file a class action lawsuit against the sperm bank in order to learn the identity of their biological father. David, as a man who has shirked responsibility his entire life, is understandably disconcerted by all of this. He receives an envelope with the names of his bastard children inside, and against the advice of his best friends and lawyer, Brett (Chris Pratt), David starts seeking them out.

As he observes his kids from a distance, he soon realizes that his offspring come from just about every walk of life. One’s a professional basketball player, another is an actor, another is gay, another is a drug addict, so on and so forth. At a certain point, he starts approaching some of them, and even starts helping them out in various ways… without ever revealing who is really is, mind you. The more he interacts with his many, many children, the more he realizes that he actually kind of digs being a dad, and wants to get involved in their lives, even though he can’t quite bring himself to tell them that he is the Starbuck that they are all looking for. From here, David learns some valuable life lessons about family, relationships, responsibility, yada, yada, and becomes a better person for it.

Delivery Man, written and directed by Ken Scott, who is remaking his own 2011 film, Starbuck, is the kind of bland but watchable dramedy that you go to see only when you have absolutely nothing better to do with your time and you’ve already seen everything else that’s playing. There are some scattered laughs throughout, but nothing that will have you rolling in the aisles, and while the story and characters are strong enough to keep you engaged, you won’t find yourself terribly moved when all is said and done, despite the schmaltzy ending.

Perhaps the most interesting thing about Delivery Man is that it gives Vaughn a rare chance to show a more sincere side of himself. He was a dramatic actor once upon a time, but he found his niche in comedies about ten years ago, and that’s pretty much what he’s been doing ever since. So, it is something of a nice change up to see him playing a somewhat serious role. Bear in mind, he is playing an aging slacker, so there still is some goofiness there, but he is, more or less, playing the straight man here, which required acting instead of his typical mugging, and he handled it quite well.

So, with Vaughn going semi-serious on us, the bulk of the comedic heavy lifting is carried by Pratt, as David’s rather tactless attorney. He’s always saying the wrong thing at the wrong time, and gives the movie its laugh out loud funny moments, which sadly, are too few and far between. That is my main issue with Deliver Man, for a movie with a premise as outrageous as this, it just isn’t all that funny. Hell, the film’s funniest joke is the premise, and I knew that one going in. I understand this was meant to lean more on the dramatic side, but still, I think I should’ve laughed, or at least smiled, more than I did.

Aside from it being just not all that funny, there are other points about the movie that just bugged me. Like isn’t it convenient how David will meet one of his children just at the right moment to give them life altering assistance, such as saving one of his daughters from a drug overdose, or helping one of his sons land an important audition. It’s convenient coincidences like those that took me out of the movie and made me believe in it just a little less.

There’s also the incredibly half-assed mobster subplot that’s maybe mentioned in two or three scenes, and completely ignored the rest of the time. It either should have had more impact on the story, or it should have been removed completely. Then there’s the issue of David’s sort-of girlfriend, who thinks he’s an immature loser and is always coming down on him for that reason. The more I thought about it, the more I had a hard time believing, especially when we find out what she does for a living, that she would have ever gotten involved with someone like David in the first place.

I suppose that while I’m complaining, I could mention how the film, in addition to everything else, is overlong, to boot. The final act felt especially drawn out, and should have ended about ten or fifteen minutes before it did. All my bitching aside, however, Delivery Man is not at all a bad movie, it’s just not the kind of movie you need to run out and see. It’s certainly not one you need to catch at the multiplex on opening weekend (good lord is The Hunger Games going to trounce this). It’s the kind of fluffy little flick you rent on a slow weekend, and then forget all about in a few days’ time.


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