Despite perhaps the most unrealistic premise imaginable and little deviation from what Vince Vaughn usually plays, Delivery Man was a pleasant surprise for someone expecting a few cheap jokes. Though the film is predictable and borderline sappy at times, the movie offers a hilarious yet feel-good response to a very strange dilemma.
David Wozniak (Vince Vaughn) drives a meat truck for his family business and creates his own misfortunes through a string of bad financial decisions. When introduced to Vaughn’s character, the opening credits take a tour through David’s apartment, a typical bachelor pad decked out in Knicks gear and a setup for growing weed. Soon to follow is news of a $100,000 debt to the mob, and the audience’s suspicions are confirmed — Vince Vaughn is certainly sticking with the underachiever archetype audiences so fondly know him for.
The story shows David progress into a marginally decent human being through the incentive of gaining custody of his and his pregnant girlfriend Emma’s (Cobie Smulders) child, as well as the welfare of 533 children that he unwittingly fathered through sperm donations. One hundred and forty-two of his children decide to file a lawsuit to overthrow the confidentiality agreement signed by David, under the alias “Starbuck,” at the sperm bank and expose the true identity of their father. With the help of his equally unaccomplished best friend Brett (Chris Pratt), who conveniently has a law degree, David battles with the decision between letting his kids know who he is or using the potential profit from the lawsuit to settle his debts.
In the meantime, the audience follows David as he searches for each of his children, dubbing himself their “Guardian Angel.” He completes tasks as mundane as cheering on his street musician of a son to saving the life of one of his daughters, a struggling drug addict. All the while, one can’t help but pity his family, who tolerate the most incompetent delivery man the world has ever seen as he slowly becomes even worse at his job while pursuing his mission to help his kids.
The whole premise of his 142 children coming together proves awkward at times, especially as David gets to know each of them. For example, after accidently attending a meeting hosted by his kids to discuss the lawsuit, David, in true Vince Vaughn fashion, goes on a rant at the reception as he introduces a few of his kids to each other, listing off brutally honest descriptors for each one without letting any of the kids actually speak for themselves. As more of his children join the conversation, David’s whole introduction repeats all over again, and the rant continues. Though funny, the scene is repetitive and lasts a little too long for comfort.
It is very refreshing, however, to see Vince Vaughn as a character who really does want to do something better with his life, rather than continue the streak of the underachieving has-been who stumbles from one scene to another. One almost expects a sick joke to surface when David visits one of his sons, a mentally disabled child, but thankfully nothing of the kind presents itself. In addition, David avoids the typical dire mistake along the way (probably because having more than 500 kids is enough of one in the first place), and seems to genuinely want to strengthen his relationship with his girlfriend for the sake of their child. This and other key aspects of the film urge the audience root for Vaughn to succeed. while pitying his children, who most likely think their father is an awful individual, when actually he is a decent guy.
And though there are definite hiccups along the way, such as poorly filled plot holes involving the mob, Delivery Man was thoroughly enjoyable and had its funny moments. The last half hour had the audience in hysterics, and the court scenes made the movie well worth sitting through.
The comedy oozed sappiness through David’s experiences with his children; but frankly, the movie would have been awful if it had lacked the emotional depth these scenes offered. For example, in response to the obvious question the audience asked before they even walked into the theater, “What could one person possibly need more than 100 sperm donations’ worth of profit for?” the screenwriters add in a typical backstory to evolve David into a respectable character. Though the extra plot was unnecessary, especially since it is never referred to again after its introduction, it was an endearing testimony to the fact that Vaughn’s character loves his family and his business.
Overall, Delivery Man was mediocre — enjoyable, but not exactly worth spending twenty bucks on a ticket and a bag of popcorn. If there is nothing else to do over Thanksgiving break, however, this movie will definitely provide an easy laugh.
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