You’ll often see men shudder at the thought of having kids in a movie. Whether or not it’s because they’re unprepared for fatherhood or just don’t want kids, they always act shocked. Over the years, family sizes have grown from one or two kids, to now three or more. The emotions that run through one’s mind when they’re told that they’re going to be a dad must be a thing of wonder. As the amount of kids increases, however, those emotions can turn to fear very quickly. Now, let’s say a man was to have a dozen kids. He’d be pretty freaked out, right? Well, just imagine being told that you’re the biological father of well over 100 kids…
David (Vince Vaughn) has never had much luck in the world. He works as a meat delivery man in his father (Andrzej Blumenfeld)’s store, with his brothers Victor (Simon Delaney) and Aleksy (Bobby Moynihan). Outside of the meat business, David is growing special plants at his house and is in massive debt to some shady characters. In his free time, David sees his girlfriend Emma (Cobie Smulders), who rightfully thinks that he has no life and nothing to drive him. However, the news that David will be the father of Emma’s baby makes him want to lead a better life.
One day, David is approached by a man from a fertility clinic that David had donated to when he was younger. The man informs David that, due to a mix-up, his donations were the only one’s used for a long period of time and that he is the biological father of 533 children. Currently, 142 are suing to discover who their father is. All they know is that he went by the name Starbuck and they’re very eager to meet him. As Brett (Chris Pratt), David’s best friend and lawyer, tries to help David win the lawsuit, David finds himself becoming a guardian angel to the kids he never knew he had. In the end, David is left conflicted on what to do and about whether or not he should reveal himself.
Having never seen Starbuck, I believe that I’m at more of an advantage than most critics. I’m not here to give you all a comparison to a foreign film that you likely haven’t seen. Instead, I’m going to focus on Delivery Man and the fact that it’s a separate, albeit the same, movie. However, it is very curious that director Ken Scott would film two versions of the same movie. It’s an interesting thought that, at least in the case of Delivery Man, works surprisingly well.
Vince Vaughn is more reserved in this performance than we’ve seen him in his last few movies. His improvisational comedy is still there, but he takes a more emotional approach to this new role. He carries the film as a man who struggles with the idea of being the father of one child, then later discovers that he technically has hundreds more. His guardian angel approach to helping his kids is very sweet and the film does a great job of exemplifying the bond a father has to his children. Vaughn offers laughs and emotional moments all the way through and this is certainly one of his better films as of late.
The other scene-stealer(s) is not Pratt (who is very funny and adds some charm to film), but the many kids that David is the father of. The one thing that brings all these kids together is that they want to know who their father is. We meet a few of them who Vaughn’s character reaches out to and even helps. Kristen (Britt Robertson) is a struggling addict. Josh (Jack Reynor) is a struggling actor. Adam (Dave Patten) is a struggling musician. Their struggles and want to succeed shine through as Vaughn comes along to help them. Their many talents and experiences all help to make this film a bit better.
I think what I liked most about this film is its originality (it’s the same story as Starbuck, so it’s an original). While it may be an unorthodox story, not many people would think to give a character over 500 kids. The film tightens that number down to the 142 that want to meet their father and things become better from there. With that many kids, the spectrum of how they turn out can range from anywhere. It’s really fun to see all the different kids in their different states. We see kids of all shapes, sizes, ethnicity, sexuality, religion, and even mental condition. These complex and different children all allow Vaughn the chance to get to know someone different each time.
As mentioned earlier, Vaughn’s character has some money issues. Issues might not be the best word, especially because owing the Mafia $80,000 is kind of a big deal. The Mafia do pop up here and there within the film, but then they vanish towards the end. Just like Vaughn’s almost-psychopathic son Viggo (Adam Chanler-Berat), who threatens to reveal his father’s identity, both Viggo and the Mafia disappear. While there is an explanation for both to go away, the film takes an out for both cases and the two side-stories just don’t blend well with the rest of the film. The other side-story involving Cobie Smulders is very minuscule and as an actress, Smulders seems highly underused. There was a lot that could have been added in with all that could have been taken out. You’d think that a second try at the same film would turn out better.
For what it is, Delivery Man is a much better film than it should have been. I found myself smiling often and really understanding where Vaughn’s character was coming from (not from personal experience or anything…). Vaughn steals the film and does a wonderful job with the material he’s given. The supporting cast aids the film in exploring the many types of people who are out there in the world and this absurd idea for a film ultimately triumphs. I could have done with less sappiness and no mafia or psycho kids, but the film is a good time regardless of those things. It’s nothing exceptional, but it never tries to be and that’s why I liked it.
Delivery Man Trailer