2 out of 4 stars
If the reaction of the audience at the preview screening is any kind of indicator, most people who choose to see “Delivery Man” will like it a lot. It is a movie that covers all of the fast/comfort food cinematic bases (broad humor, wadding-pool-deep drama, mixed-company-level-safe sexual innuendo, faux-spiritual uplift) that tastes great going down and fills you up but provides next-to-no actual sustenance. Everyone will remember the plot but few will be able to recall the finer details on their return trip home.
In adapting his own screenplay, director Ken Scott takes his French-language “Starbuck” from earlier this year and recreates a virtual scene-for-scene American copy. The best thing that can be said about either film is that it would probably work a lot better as a TV series along the lines of “My Name is Earl.” The biggest (perhaps only) chance Scott and Disney took was casting Vince Vaughn as the lead.
A full 17 years removed from “Swingers” where he immediately established himself as the next great Rat pack-influenced bad boy, Vaughn (with the notable exception of “The Cell”) has more or less played a variation on the same character ever since. It worked well in “Wedding Crashers” but in every other film not so much.
For the first time in his career Vaughn (as David) plays the well-intended nice guy for the duration but — for better or worse — his past resume makes his character a tough sell. What helps a little is David’s connection to other Vaughn characters: a loveable ne’er-do-well loser. In debt up to here and seemingly unable to carry out even the most rudimentary tasks, David works as a delivery man for his family’s New York-based meat packing company and for everything one right thing he does, two wrongs follow.
Desperate for cash to pay off the mob for reasons never explained David decides growing marijuana in his cramped apartment is the solution to his money woes and goes as far as to ask one of his far-more-together brothers to join him as a part-time weed farmer. Seeing as he is involved in such nefarious activities, it’s odd that David’s girlfriend Emma (Cobie Smulders) works as a NYPD cop. Emma is so fed up with David’s failures, she would rather raise the baby she’s carrying alone than with him.
David hasn’t always been so cash-strapped. In the early ’90s while attending college, he made what most people would consider to be easy money by donating his sperm. As it turns out, David’s sperm was of extremely high quality and the clinic he sold it to over-sold it to their customers. As the result of a totally hair brain, only-in-the-movies scenario, David is informed that he is the biological father of 533 people and roughly 30 percent of these now young adults wish to know the identity of the mystery donor known only as “Starbuck” and as such filed a lawsuit.
Advised by unlicensed attorney friend Brett (Chris Platt) to lay low and say nothing David instead opens an envelope given to him by the same attorney who told him not to open it. After disposing of his indoor crops, David sets up his apartment much in the manner as a detective’s office and one by one “accidentally on purpose” style starts crossing paths with his unsuspecting children. Although the scenarios for each is different all the encounters come with a creepy, stalker-ish air and — with money he doesn’t have — David starts buying beaucoup goods and services for his children.
To say the plot is rife with holes would be gross understatement; nothing makes sense or would ever likely to take place in the real world. About the only thing Scott gets right is David’s spiritual transformation upon learning he has so many children and another on the way. Most people tend to straighten up and fly right when becoming a parent.
This might be new territory for Vaughn and some members of his still substantial fan base will embrace him in this new nice guy light but it’s likely the majority of them want him to start swinging again while inhabiting is dark side. (Disney/DreamWorks)