Starring: Vince Vaughn, Chris Pratt, Cobie Smulders
Directed by: Ken Scott (“Starbuck”)
Written by: Ken Scott (“Starbuck”) and Martin Petit (“Starbuck”)
In “Delivery Man,” manchild and meat company delivery truck driver Dave Wozniak (Vince Vaughn) faces parenthood in a way he couldn’t have imagined: as a sperm donor, he is the biological father of 533 kids. Through this process, Dave finds out that 142 of these children are pursuing a lawsuit against him in order to discover his identity after his privacy forms from the clinic are under the alias of “Starbuck.” As Dave seeks out his children and spends time trying to take care of them, he wrestles with the idea of revealing his identity.
To his credit, Vaughn bucks his conventional role of the fast-talking, neurotic jokester seen in most of his roles and turns in a more subdued performance. It’s a welcome change, especially since his role in this year’s “The Internship” further proved that his schtick is wearing thin, but it is perhaps too dialed back and at times a little lifeless. Most of the humor from the film comes from his lawyer friend Brett played by Chris Pratt (TV’s “Parks and Recreation”), who is knocking on the doorstep of stardom with roles in Marvel’s “Guardians of the Galaxy” and the long-awaited fourth installment of the “Jurassic Park” franchise. While Pratt’s full range of comedic abilities isn’t put to use, he is the funniest part of the film and is able to inject some energy into a picture that is surprisingly dour.
Tone is a big problem for “Delivery Man.” It’s almost difficult to call it a comedy, not just because it isn’t particularly funny, but there seems to be a lack of jokes being made at all. The film overshoots for far too many dramatic moments, many of which feel manufactured. There is also an issue with the conceivability of the story. While the narrative might be loosely based on real life situations of sperm donors fathering large amounts of kids, 533 is such a preposterous number to choose that it distracts from the movie itself.
As a comedy, the most humorous part of “Delivery Man” might be the irony that a movie containing a central plot line of a man who donated enough sperm to father a small army of children is being distributed by Walt Disney Pictures. It’s riddled with problems, but its main downfall is its lowkey tone that at times robs the film of any vibrancy. Some of the more sentimental moments are well-executed and it’s nice to see Vaughn branch out and try a new role, but ultimately, “Delivery Man” can’t get out of neutral.