By Gary Murray
Starring Vince Vaughn, Chris Pratt and Cobie Smulders
Written and directed by Ken Scott
Running time 103 min
MPAA Rating PG-13
Selig Film Rating Cable
Vince Vaughn has gone from a small character actor to one of the biggest stars on the planet. Some of his films have been Wedding Crashers, The Break Up and Four Christmases. He is a go-to guy for zany comedies and romantic comedies. His latest is a slight departure and is called Delivery Man.
Vince plays David, a slacker kind of guy who works as a delivery driver in the family meat business. His brother Aleksy (Bobby Moynihan) is an expectant father and his best buddy/lawyer Brett (Chris Pratt) has a mess of young ones. David has an estranged girlfriend Emma (Cobie Smulders) who believes that David has no responsibility and drive.
One day, a lawyer pops up at David’s apartment. It seems back in 1991 David made a few donations to the local sperm bank under the name Starbuck. The lawyer informs David that he has sired 533 children. Of that group 142 have filed a class action suit to find out his identity. They all want to know who their daddy actually is.
This throws a serious wrench into David’s life. Brett keeps pushing him to enter an insanity plea. David is given a packet of the kids and, ignoring his lawyer’s advice, pulls out one of the papers. He discovers that the man is a basketball player for the Knicks.
This revelation pushes David to become involved in the lives of all his biological kids. He becomes their guardian angel and begins to bond with each and every one of them. At the same time he finds out that his girlfriend Emma is expecting. The forces of the Starbuck kids in court versus David’s right to his privacy drive the film to its obvious conclusion.
This is easily the strongest Vince Vaughn performance in his career. But to be honest, that is not saying too much. The actor has been skating on his flippant attitude in dozens of films over the year. This is a very subtle and moving performance with an unexpected heart. The problem is that it is just not that funny or that romantic.
The big surprise is how much of an artist Chris Pratt has become in the last few years. The actor is best known for his supporting role in the sit-com Parks and Rec to acting roles in such diverse flicks as Moneyball and Zero Dark 30. Here he gets to play a comic and intelligent character. He is easily the best element in the film.
Cobie Smulders plays the girlfriend role, the reaction to David. She looks great but in a film about family, the expectant mother is not asked to do anything more than breed. Since there are so many kids, there are almost no stand-outs in the secondary cast. It becomes a swarm of lost young people. The work would have worked better if they had focused on a few kids, telling less tales would have worked better.
The film is written and directed by Ken Scott who crafted the 2011 film Starbuck that this film is based on. One has to wonder why someone would remake a film they made just a few years ago. Yes, he’s given a bigger budget and a stronger cast but one has still has to wonder why do it? Remaking the same film over and over again is something George Lucas is known for and why infringe on his gig.
At the end, Delivery Man is a very pro-life, pro family film. It is just not that funny of a film. All the best jokes are in the trailer. It is a nice diversion but not great film making. This is the season for Oscar contenders and Delivery Man is not up to that standard. It is charming but not riveting.