The tale of a man and his many, many offspring is one that writer/director Ken Scott knows a thing or two about.
Joining the small but significant cohort of filmmakers to remake their own work, Scott turns his French-Canadian hit comedy Starbuck into American effort Delivery Man. The story certainly has longevity; without Scott’s direct involvement, French offering Fonzy and Bollywood version Vicky Donor also retraced the same territory.
Sustained interest stems from an outlandish, but also empathetic, concept that comes complete with its own inbuilt source of hilarity: a sperm donor is confronted by the hundreds of lives stemming, literally, from his handiwork. Over months of youthful vigour, David Wozniak (Vince Vaughn, The Internship) gave more than his fair share to a fertility clinic, thinking of the cash over the consequences. In his defence, discovering decades later that his deposits provided the spice of life for 533 children couldn’t ever have been cause for contemplation.
The news that his issue have not only discovered their sibling bond, but now seek the identity of their progenitor, disrupts David’s state of arrested development. Though a dutiful delivery driver for the family butcher shop, he hasn’t quite mastered the accoutrements of an adult life; indeed, when his girlfriend (Cobie Smulders, Safe Haven) breaks the news that should cement his maturity, his reaction is far from fatherly. With the help of his friend-turned-lawyer (Chris Pratt, Zero Dark Thirty) he strives to protect his anonymity, but his stance weakens when he wonders what his children have become. Wandering through their days and engineering encounters by chance, David warms to his role as an unlikely patriarch.
Like the masses pursuing parental surety in the movie itself, Delivery Man suffers through the lurking shadow of its own predecessor, seeking but never quite securing its own place. Unlike its characters, however, there can be no neat resolution or warm reassurance as it ambles along its affable, innocuous, extremely faithful path – but neither does it inspire disdain. Scott’s repeat effort is inoffensive and earnest as it underscores its message with the obvious contrast of its central conceit, and has the best of intentions as its impetus. Alas, even when evoking a reaction, the emotions and amusement prove routine rather than resonant, a few smile-worthy moments and standout gags notwithstanding.
Whilst on paper, the leading role appears to be another standard man-child effort for the eternally adolescent on-screen persona of Vaughn, it is his work that proves the most pleasing. Swapping fast-talking sarcasm for quiet sincerity suits the hulking actor, and adds a much-needed extra dimension to his portrayal of an ordinary man in the most extraordinary of situations. The ever-comedic Pratt steals every scene he is in as the protagonist’s pal and parental antithesis, their odd-couple pairing well matched. Surrounding supports are given little to work with, but that’s almost the point; for them, as in the film itself, there’s safety in numbers.
Rating: 3 out of 5
Director: Ken Scott
US, 105, 146 mins
Release date: December 5