REVIEW: 'Delivery Man' delivers when it needs to
“Delivery Man” is a Vince Vaughn comedy about an irresponsible oaf who discovers that his sperm-donations-for-money years resulted in 533 kids he never knew he had.
As he learns this news — that “his” kids are reaching out to break the anonymity of his donations, just as his “You're too immature for me” girlfriend (Cobie Smulders) tells him she's pregnant — we have the makings of a charming “Time to grow up and be responsible” comedy.
Which is exactly what “Delivery Man” manages to be.
To play David, the impulsive meat truck driver-son of a New York butcher, Vaughn tones down the manic patter and reaches for the heartstrings. David is the guy his dad (Andrzej Blumenfeld) and butcher siblings can never count on.
He's in debt up to his eyeballs when the scary lawyer from the fertility clinic shows up. Mistakes were made, his seed spread further than he ever imagined, and now the offspring are suing to find their “father.”
He needs a lawyer. Slovenly, overwhelmed father-of-four Brett (Chris Pratt of “The Five Year Engagement”) is his pal, and his last hope.
And then David makes the fateful decision to look at the profiles of the kids suing him, to look them up and stumble, anonymously, into their lives.
“Delivery Man,” based on the more charming French-Canadian comedy “Starbuck,” takes us on a roller-coaster ride through the lives of kids thriving (a pro basketball player) and struggling (a street musician, a bartender/actor). Writer-director Ken Scott, who also made the original film, deftly recycles the exultant highs and touching lows as David cheers on his Knicks-star son like a proud papa, and saves his distraught, overdosing daughter.
The story plays up David's innate good-heartedness, and happy accidents allow him to make a difference in their lives, even in a drop-in dad sense. But he also gets a taste of the tough side of parenting.
Vaughn is at his most appealing here, even if that robs the film of many potential laughs.
This story was always about growing up, compassion and learning to be someone people can depend on and love. Vaughn gives the scenes just enough heart to work, although the biggest moments were both bigger and better played by his Canadian predecessor, Patrick Huard, in “Starbuck.”
“Delivery Man” and the guy who plays him still deliver where it counts.
Roger Moore is a staff writer for McClatchy-Tribune News Service.