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Lovable Loser Nobly Attempts Fatherhood in Delivery Man

  • Christa Banister Crosswalk.com Contributing Writer
  • 2013 11 Nov
  • COMMENTS
Lovable Loser Nobly Attempts Fatherhood in <i>Delivery Man</i>

DVD Release Date: March 25, 2014
Theatrical Release Date: November 22, 2013
Rating: PG-13 (thematic elements, sexual content, some drug material, brief violence and language)
Genre: Comedy
Run Time: 103 min.
Director: Ken Scott
Cast: Vince Vaughn, Chris Pratt, Cobie Smulders, Simon Delaney, Bobby Moynihan, Dave Patten

Long before Judd Apatow cornered the market on male arrested development with everything from Knocked Up to Funny People to last year’s quasi-depressing ode to growing up, This is 40, Vince Vaughn had already been perfecting his onscreen "man-boy makes good" act since 1996 with his breakout role in Swingers.

With a knack for fast-talking his way out of anything and a goofy sense of humor that’s paired well with that of fellow Hollywood funny guys Owen Wilson, Will Ferrell, Ben Stiller and Kevin James, Vaughn has practically made a career out of being a lovable loser who, miracle of all miracles, manages to get the girl, too.

But now that Vaughn is 43, married, and a father of two young children himself, it’s not surprising that he might want to venture into art that’s a little closer to imitating life. In Delivery Man, Vaughn successfully sticks his toe into more serious waters, not that anyone would mistake it for a “serious” film. As a fable about, yes, an affable underachiever in serious need of a reality check, however, Vaughn showcases surprising warmth as David, a man who recently discovers that he’s fathered 533 children through anonymous donations to a fertility clinic nearly two decades ago.

Not surprisingly, the news of this many successful conceptions came as quite a shock. For one, David is anything but successful father material, something his best pal Brett (Chris Pratt, Zero Dark Thirty) and his own family, who happen to own the butcher shop he does deliveries for, constantly remind of him of. In addition to being a less than dependable employee and believing that growing marijuana in his apartment is the best way to pay off roughly $80,000 of debt, David’s newly pregnant girlfriend, Emma (Cobie Smulders, TV’s “How I Met Your Mother”) also decides it would be better to raise their baby alone than count on David for support.  

Adding another wrinkle to David’s increasingly complicated life is a random visit from a lawyer. Informing him that 142 of these 533 kids now want to file a lawsuit that would force “Starbuck,” the pseudonym David chose for his file, to reveal his identity, David has to decide whether or not to come forward. Seeking legal counsel from Brett, a disgruntled father of four himself, he strongly encourages David to keep quiet. Strangely enough, though, David is growing more and more curious about these people who shares his genes.

Officially kicking his legal counsel to the curb, David decides to crack open the files and see if he can track down some of his children—just to see where they’ve landed in life. As it turns out, one of David’s sons plays for the Knicks, while another is an aspiring actor who hates slinging espresso at the local coffee shop. But it’s when he meets his daughter who struggles with drug addiction when David has sort of an a-ha moment. Since he missed out on being these young adults’ father, maybe he can be sort of a “guardian angel” to help and encourage them along the way.

It’s this turn of events where Delivery Man finally begins to get interesting. While there are several moments where one must severely suspend his/her disbelief to roll with the plot, it’s still pretty fun seeing David do the best he can to make amends. Discovering the inherent difference between being a father and merely a sperm donor, we not only see David open up his heart but grow up tremendously as a result.

No doubt, Vaughn still makes the most of his go-to comedic gifts, particularly as the proud, decidedly overprotective dad who wants never wants his son to sit on the bench during a basketball game, but Vaughn also manages to connect on a deeper emotional level, too. Whether he’s weighing the best course of action for a daughter who recently overdosed (rehab versus signing the hospital release forms) and actually making sure she’s at work the next morning like she said she’d be or recruiting supporters for his son who’s a struggling street musician, you can’t help rooting for Vaughn’s character’s transition from an irresponsible, misguided boy to someone who is actively trying to be a better man.

Truth be told, like most movies along these lines, there’s never any question of where the story is headed—and Delivery Man is definitely no exception. But what is surprising is that the journey is still far more enjoyable and substantial than the film’s trailer suggested— a win for anyone hoping for more from a Vince Vaughn comedy.

CAUTIONS (may contain spoilers):

  • Drugs/Alcohol: Social drinking and occasional drunkenness depicted. One of David’s daughters overdoses on illegal drugs, but David makes sure she gets to the hospital. Before turning his life around, David used to grow pot in his home. After disposing of it, it’s a happy discovery for the local garbage men.
  • Language/Profanity: a handful of instances where God’s name is misused, an f-bomb and a smattering of other profanity including occasional uses of he--, bi--- and as-.
  • Sex/Nudity: Some crude discussion of how David “fathered” 533 children in a clinic. Several jokes and references to masturbation, marital infidelity and male sexual anatomy. David gets Emma pregnant before they’re married (they eventually get engaged). One of David’s 533 kids is gay, and the clear implication is that he “gets around.” We briefly see him being affectionate (hugs and kisses) with several men.
  • Violence: Mostly of a humorous nature (i.e. when David falls awkwardly while trying to dive into a pool), but there are a few bad guys who harass David because he owes quite a bit of money. They try to scare him into paying but dunking him repeatedly in his own bathtub. 

Publication date: November 22, 2013