From Swingers down to the remake of Psycho; then up and up with Dodgeball and Wedding Crashers; to then plummet furiously down with Four Christmases, The Dilemma, Couples Retreat, and The Watch; Vince Vaughn’s career has all of the makings of a thrilling roller coaster ride, except this ride is not very fun to endure. But luckily for Vaughn, Delivery Man is a role that can help build him back up. Unfortunately, it is not a strong film that even he can hold up on his own thanks to writer/director Ken Scott’s wacky story.
Digging deep into the recesses of his creativity, Scott decided it best to remake his original, French-Canadian flick Starbuck for English speaking audiences. Utilizing all of the same story beats, Scott signed on Vince Vaughn to take on the role of David Wozniak, a man who once donated his semen at a young age under the alias of “Starbuck.” Little did David know, the sperm bank utilized his donations to their full extent, procreating 533 little Davids he has no knowledge of.
We meet David in the present day, many years later. He works for his family’s butcher shop as a delivery man, failing in a relationship with his girlfriend Emma (Cobie Smulders) who tells him she is pregnant, and is in a large sum of debt to some mobster-esque type people due to his poor decision making skills. To add more wood onto the fire, David is confronted by a lawyer who drops some knowledge on him that 142 of his unknown offspring are filing a class action lawsuit against the fertility clinic demanding they reveal who “Starbuck” is. (How they know his alias is Starbuck is never known.)
I will give props to Vince Vaughn who turns out a pretty decent performance here, something far removed from his typical blabbermouth, know-it-all characters he has been typecast for. Vaughn demonstrates that he can show a kinder side without trying to be the coolest guy in the room. And he does it well. However, it is the young Chris Pratt, who plays his “lawyer” best friend Brett with a litter of kids of his own, who steals scenes with his impeccable comedic timing and likability.
Deciding he should get his life back together – not even angry at the idea of the fertility clinic possibly revealing his identity – David decides to open Pandora’s Box. Reaching into the envelope that Brett gives him, identifying all of the 142 children seeking the truth, David makes the rash decision to involve himself in the lives of his new family, as a watchful guardian under a fake name of course, to see if he is even worthy of being a father to Emma and his child.
Thankfully, David’s relationship with his new kids feels very honest, and truly touching at times; especially with certain ones with more depressing backstories. All of the young actors do a great job fitting into their roles to create a real connection with Vaughn’s David. And then their is David’s brothers and father who bring a good balance of perspective when it comes to family for the character to learn from and grow.
What hurts Delivery Man the most is this looming subplot of loan sharks that works in its own little world. I can live with David desperate enough for money, but does he have to owe that money to nameless, stock mob characters that threaten his family? It unhinges the reality of the movie and feels really out of place. Scott could have come up with a better, more nuanced inconvenience for David to owe money to.
And then there is David’s relationship with Emma, which is highly under developed, somewhat forced, and lacking in emotional resonance. The film gives us very little reason for us to care what happens to them in the end. It’s not dreadful, but if we could have spent a little more time with them together, tackling bigger issues or if they had better on-screen chemistry, it would have been a more satisfying, believable relationship.
Delivery Man is not a terrible remake, but it also has have a good story to begin with; it’s highly inoffensive and can be charming at times, yet there are certain elements of the plot that fall flat and could have been approached with more finesse. It’s not funny enough to be a great comedy nor is it have the amount of heart to be a sweet, memorable drama; Delivery Man exists in this limbo. With that said, the chinks in the armor and the dull sense of tone makes Delivery Man one in a million average film fighting against each other for that egg of attention.
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Delivery Man was directed by Ken Scott, with a run time of 104 minutes. The film has been rated PG-13 for thematic elements, sexual content, some drug material, brief violence and language. (Watch the trailer here)
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