If you happened to see the Canadian-French film Starbuck upon which the film Delivery Man is based, then you're likely already aware that it is based upon the flimsiest and most ludicrous of plots and depended almost entirely on the likability of its star, Patrick Huard, to get by. Starbuck wasn't a brilliant film, but it certainly was an entertaining film that actually managed to make a dent in the the box-office despite having that taboo quality for films in America of actually being subtitled.
Well, by now we've already learned that Hollywood's never seen an idea it's not perfectly willing to recreate. So, less than two years after Starbuck we get the Americanized yet surprisingly faithful Delivery Man, a film centered around David Wozniak (VInce Vaughn), pretty much a lifetime schlub who we learn made right around 600 deposits at a local sperm bank a few years back because, well, it pays. Through a mix-up that is never really displayed, said sperm bank happened to use ONLY David's sperm for a three-year period and, as a result, he now finds himself the supposedly anonymous parent of 533 young adults in their late teens and early twenties who are a wee bit curious about their birth father and sue for the right to know.
Remember what I said about a flimsy and ludicrous plot?
Chris Pratt is here as best friend Brett, a kinda sorta on the edge of being a lawyer type whose family with four children now seems pretty darn small. While David's confidentiality rights get violated, he returns the favor in short order when he finds out the names of the 142 folks who signed on for the lawsuit and, believe it or not, starts sort of introducing himself into their lives in mostly helpful but potentially creepy ways. In another scene ripped directly out of the original film, one of the most disjointed scenes involves David's discovery that he has a child with special needs who lives in some type of facility. In the original film, this series of scenes bordered on creepy because you couldn't help but wonder about a facility that would allow a random stranger to suddenly start visiting for extended periods of time. As a scene set in America, the land where facilities have largely gone by the wayside and HIPAA is the rule of the land, you're talking about litigious possibilities and a dark shadow that lingers over a scene that is supposed to be rather warm and fuzzy.
For the record, it's also one of the few scenes in this remake that involves one of the "children" being anything less than model-perfect. At least Starbuck had the decency to present people in different shapes and sizes, but Delivery Man tries to sell the point that apparently only hottie women visited this sperm bank because pretty much all these men and women are mighty fine.
The real pity here is that Vince Vaughn actually does stretch himself a bit and is mostly successful at doing so, though it's never a great thing when a mere 15-20 minutes into a film you're already going through in your head the other actors who could have played the part. Vaughn is allowed to do his Vaughn shtick here, though he's also a bit more warm and fuzzy than we usually see and it's a side of him I'd like to see in a film that was a bit more developed. The same is true for Chris Pratt, who could do this role in his sleep but to his credit stays wide awake and makes Brett a likable chap. Cobie Smulders does what she can as David's girlfriend, a promising young woman tired of his not so promising ways.
Starbuck suffered from this overwhelming feeling that the script needed to be worked through a couple more times before coming up with a finished product, and the same is even more true for Delivery Man. Delivery Man isn't a bad film - it's just a film that feels like it's been delivered, dare I say it, just a wee bit prematurely.
© Written by Richard Propes
The Independent Critic