Stand and deliver
A humdrum film that leaves you more bemused than amused.
DELIVERY Man is the story of David Wozniak (Vince Vaughn), a delivery man for his family’s meat company. Although he is a decent guy, David is heavily in debt, unreliable, immature and has no clear plan for his life.
Then, two things happen at once. David’s girlfriend Emma (Cobie Smulders) tells him that she’s pregnant but doesn’t want him in the baby’s life because he has a tendency to disappear, and David finds out that he has unwittingly become the father to 533 children – and that about 142 of them have lodged a suit to find out his identity.
Against the better advice of his best friend and lawyer Brett, David opens up one profile out of the 142, and discovers that he is the biological father of a professional basketball player. This leads him to start going through all the profiles, and unexpectedly appearing at timely moments to help and support his children.
He becomes emotionally involved and begins to understand the beauty of parenthood, putting the needs of his kids ahead of his own – all 142 of them.
Based on Starbuck, a Canadian movie, and directed by the same director, the Delivery Man promises lots of laughs and many heartfelt moments. Unfortunately, it doesn’t deliver on its promise. A lot of the movie felt contrived, and instead of delivering on the feel-good front, it left the audience more bemused than anything.
With the exception of Psycho, Vaughn generally plays goofy, immature and unfocused characters who grow up in the last 10 minutes of the movie. So, it was a little refreshing to see David grow up in the first hour of Delivery Man.
That apart, it felt very much like Vince Vaughn playing Vince Vaughn. It’s a shame, really, because Vaughn has a lot of hidden depth, and this rarely shines through.
Smulders is lacklustre as David’s pregnant cop girlfriend, but this is because the role she has been given is minimal at best. The surprising star of the show is Chris Pratt’s Brett, who steals the focus in every scene he’s in. A stay-at-home-dad to four children, Brett is the only one who seems to see the big picture, and is by turns depressed, angry and hilarious.
The plot is also a little (OK, very!) far-fetched. Over the course of three years, David made over 633 deposits at the bank. Cue the many, many jokes about “wrestling the dragon”, and David’s nickname by the media was no fun either.
This slightly ludicrous setting aside, it seemed as though Vaughn’s transition from loafer to responsible father/guardian angel happened overnight, without anyone questioning its authenticity.
For example, he conveniently forgets to mention to Emma that he is, in fact, Starbuck throughout the course of her pregnancy. It’s only after her delivery and his proposal that he tells her. While her initial reaction is of hurt and anger, she quickly changes her mind when he delivers a less-than-stellar speech about his responsibilities as a father and his love for her.
Likewise, when his father is threatened because of his outstanding loans. While his father initially refused to speak to him, he later comes to David with the money to pay off his debt. This is a pattern over the course of the movie – things get better for him almost immediately, without him even trying. The only person who calls him out on his antics is Brett.
There are some rare moments in the movie that are absolute gems, such as David’s interaction with his sickly son Ryan. Other great scenes include the weekend he spends with his children (although they didn’t know his identity at the time), where David inadvertently stumbles on the “Finding Starbuck” meeting his children are having.
Delivery Man is one of those movies that tries very hard to please. But despite some good scenes, it’s a bland take on family, fatherhood and growing up.