In my This Week column, I used the word “inane” to describe Vince Vaughn’s latest comedy, and I stand by that language. But “Delivery Man” is also surprisingly entertaining, if you’re able to check logic at the door and just roll with the premise.
If you think too much about it, though, everything seems so unbelievable that it would make for a better fantasy than a fictional comedy. Here’s what we’re asked to swallow:
That an underachiever who drives a meat delivery truck somehow fathered 533 children through anonymous donations to a fertility clinic 20 years ago. So what responsible sperm bank would accept some 600 “donations” in the first place? Yes, you say, but what about that fertility doctor who got into trouble in the ‘80s for using his own sperm? True, Cecil Jacobson did the unthinkable and inseminated women with his own sperm rather than using what was provided by their husbands, and DNA testing proved that he was the father of at least 15 children. Authorities suspected 75 total, but that’s a far cry from 533. And let’s just assume that these sperm donations happened over a period of three months, which is generous given what we discover later in the film. That would mean Vaughn’s character, David Wozniak, would have had to masturbate seven times per day, and a man’s body takes 24 hours to replenish the sperm.
That a man with an $80,00 gambling debt would be roughed up by thugs demanding payment in the first act and forgotten about for the rest of the film. Maybe you don’t have first-hand experience, but everything you’ve seen on TV tells you that once loan sharks and bookies rough you up, the next step ISN’T amnesia.
That a delivery man can simply neglect his job and spend all his days tracking down some of the 142 offspring who have filed a class-action lawsuit to demand that the clinic reveal the identity of a donor known to them only as “Starbuck”—a great name for a guy with “super sperm,” I’ll grant you. But this single-faceted screenplay only offers one real side plot, and that’s the female cop that David has been dating and her announcement that she’s pregnant and will have the baby without him, because he’s too damned irresponsible. He spends a little time with her, a little time with family, and practically no time working. Most of the screen-time action is of him tracking down some of his twentysomething children to see what they’re lives are like and, finding some of them a mess (like his own), trying to help them.
That it would be up to the sperm donor to hire a lawyer for a class-action lawsuit directed against the fertility clinic. Really? And rather than hire a “real” lawyer he’s going to go with an underachieving friend who seems buffaloed by his own brood of children?
That the 142 class action participants would meet and then start hanging out together.Okay, it feels as good as those old-timey Coke commercials where people from all over the world gathered on a mountain top to smile and sway and sing about “perfect harmony,” but again, do none of these people have lives? And 20 years later do 142 of them still live in the New York City area?
That David, despite being their father, would get away with doing things like posing as a pizza deliveryman, for example. Did this young woman order a pizza? If so, how did he get in the position to deliver it? If not, then why isn’t she calling the police instantly, instead of letting him into her apartment? And in another instance, how is it that anyone working alone at a coffee shop would let a perfect stranger take over for him at a business he doesn’t own, while he goes off to audition for a part?
So many things about “Delivery Man” don’t make sense that it’s almost a surprise that the lightweight, warm-hearted comedy is still entertaining. Maybe it’s a nice break seeing Vaughn as a vulnerable, quiet guy rather than the brash, overly confident, fast-talking fellow we normally see him play on the big screen. Maybe it’s because Ken Scott—who retooled his 2011 Canadian comedy “Starbuck” to fit Vaughn and sidekick Chris Pratt—could direct this in his sleep, since there are very few changes other than the cast and setting. Whatever the reason, “Delivery Man” is a little like the main character: just good enough to make you care a little and smile a lot.
“Delivery Man” is rated PG-13 for thematic elements, sexual content, some drug material, brief violence and language, and it has a runtime of 105 minutes.
“Delivery Man” looks good in HD, with bright colors, sufficient black levels, and a little hint of 3-dimensionality, thanks to some strong edge delineation. The AVC/MPEG-4 transfer delivers a near-flawless visual presentation. I noticed only one or two minor instances of banding, and that’s it. “Delivery Man” is presented in 2.40:1 aspect ratio.
This is a dialogue-driven film, so the rear effects speakers will seem underutilized unless a song kicks in or the sounds of traffic get rolling. There’s not much bass, but then again there’s not much call for it. The featured audio is an English DTS-HD MA 5.1, with additional options in French and Spanish Dolby Digital 5.1 and English DVS Dolby Digital 2.0. Subtitles are in English SDH, French, and Spanish.
Bonus features are mostly token. There’s an improv clip-reel on Vince Vaughn: Off the Cuff, a blooper reel, a deleted scene, and a feel-good segment on the 142 actors who were cast as the D-Man’s offspring, and how they bonded during and after filming and production.
Given the premise, it’s a pleasant surprise that “Delivery Man” doesn’t stoop to raunchy humor. Although this remake isn’t as strong of a film as the 2011 Canadian comedy, “Delivery Man” is still a warm-hearted movie that has a few things to say about fatherhood. And a decent-enough script delivers not one, but two underdogs to root for.