MRR Review: "Delivery Man"

Photo Credit: Walt Disney Studios Motion Pictures

MRR Review: "Delivery Man"

Rating: PG-13 (thematic elements, sexual content, some drug material, brief violence and language)
Length: 103 minutes
Release Date: November 22, 2013
Directed by: Ken Scott
Genre: Comedy

The delivery man in "Delivery Man" is David (Vince Vaughn), an aimless, unfocused man who works delivering meat for his father, Mikolaj (Andrzej Blumenfeld), who owns the business and is a big success. He tries to goad David into becoming successful as well, but the big guy just can't seem to settle on a single goal in life. That changes very quickly, however, when he gets two big pieces of unexpected, life-changing news, both of which are about children.

The first piece of news is that his girlfriend Emma (Cobie Smulders) is pregnant, which is a complete shocker. Although she genuinely loves David, now that she is about to become a mother, she can't deal with his unreliability. The second big piece of news is that David has sired 533 children, the result of hundreds of sperm bank donations he made in his youth, about twenty years earlier. Now over a hundred of those children are suing the sperm bank to find out David's identity. While David was aware that he might have fathered a few children through his donations, news of over 500 children sends him into an emotional tailspin that changes his life forever.

His best friend Brett (Chris Pratt) is a lawyer and is handling David's case for him. Brett is the father of four precocious children, and he tries to warn David about the perils of fatherhood. But for once in his life, David is convinced he knows what to do, so he sets out to try and locate some of his biological children to see if he can help them in any way. Emma takes notice of his good deeds and is secretly proud of his actions, but it might be too little, too late. With so many children to visit, David's time is being spread quite thin, and he may not be able to convince Emma that he has turned over a new leaf. Can she be convinced so they can live happily ever after, or will they break up for good?

In many of Vaughn's films, he plays aloof characters that spend most of the movie coming down from their perches of reticence, only to be redeemed at the end. This Vaughn aloofness is akin to the way Jack Nicholson always plays a character that is very Jack, or Al Pacino plays a character who is very Al. Vaughn always seems to always the same type of reticent character—some refer to this tendency as Vince being Vince. In "Delivery Man," he switches gears and plays a man who is disconnected from the world around him, but not because he is aloof. He is isolated because he doesn't quite know where he fits in. Even when he is surrounded by people he loves, such as Emma or Brett, there is always the sense that he still feels very much alone. This sense allows Vaughn to play a character the audience can sympathize with almost immediately. Like so many of Vaughn's past cinematic incarnations, David does need redemption, but only because he has spent so much time searching and not enough time doing. Once he finds his calling, the movie really takes off, and David goes from lost soul to living, thriving soul.

The film, a remake of a Canadian film called "Starbuck," differs from the original in that it is set in New York and has an American cast. Other than that, not much has changed from Martin Petit's original screenplay; in fact, some of the same lines and jokes are lifted directly from the source script. No new ground is broken in "Delivery Man," so the sole reason for doing this remake is to capitalize on the star power of Vaughn, the rising star of Pratt, and the fantastic comedic timing of Smulders. They make for a charming trio; however, this is Vaughn's film through and through. Viewers who have seen "Starbuck" won't be surprised by any of the plot developments in "Delivery Man," but they will probably be surprised at the different energy that Vaughn brings to the project, in comparison with his Canadian counterpart, Patrick Huard.

November is the month where movie studios generally roll out their big dramas—the ones they hope will get Golden Globe and Oscar nominations when awards season starts. It's pretty rare to see an outright comedy slated for release between all of these serious films, but it is a welcome addition. Sure, "Delivery Man" isn't going to compete with other November films for an Academy Award, but it is a fun departure from the usual fall movie fare.

Rating: 3 out of 5