Starring: Vince Vaughn, Chris Pratt, Cobie Smulders
Genre: Comedy/ Drama
David Wozniak (Vaughn) is a man who is an extremely unreliable man and all round loser that discovers that his girlfriend Emma (Smulders) is pregnant, but after understandably dumping him is reluctant to let him get involved too much as the father. David then discovers that many years ago when after frequently donating sperm and a mix up at the clinic, he is now the biological father of 533 children, of which 142 now demand to know who their real father is. Deciding to finally take some responsibility in his life, he makes the effort to be a great father to his unborn son, and a secret guardian angel to the other 142, but can he do that without them figuring out the true identity of their biological father?
Every time I see that there is a new film with Vince Vaughn out I let out a deep sigh, as over the last few years he has not only been in some truly awful ‘comedies’, but his performances (though using that would implies that he actually made some effort) made only Adam Sandler a more consistently infuriating screen presence. Well, with Vince as the leading man putting on another one of his expressions on the poster that make his face so punchable I tried my hardest to enter Delivery Man with an open mind and genuinely thinking Vince could surprise me and produce a likeable protagonists for once. It is also worth noting I have not seen the French-Canadian original, so I cannot neither comment on that nor make any comparisons, though I am aware it is the same director.
Well, though Delivery Man is deeply flawed and contrived, by Vince’s painfully low standards it is a just about watchable. Though marketed as a comedy, Vince does not really do much of the apparent comedy, so instantly making him more likeable. Though he may lack the range to pull off the film’s seemingly heartfelt narrative, it means he is not as painstakingly infuriating to watch as he usually is.
It is this attempt at being predominantly heartfelt that makes Delivery Man incredibly predictable but just about watchable. All the usual messages are in there that I do not need to list, and the story contains very little surprises, never even wanting to take any risks. I would like to think these emotional messages are presented with integrity despite their clunky delivery, in particular I am giving Ken Scott the benefit of the doubt in saying that I hope that a plot strand in which one of David’s sons is severely disabled is a genuine examination of David’s character arc written with integrity and not a deeply cynical Hollywood style attempt at cheap emotion. I truly hope that.
Story-wise Delivery Man is not only quite narrow minded, but the film has countless plot-holes, flaws and embarrassingly contrived moments that almost feel quite reassuring, but make sure Delivery Man never ever rises above mediocre. The entire writing of Cobie Smulder’s character and the subsequent character development of David that this produces is very lazy and painfully clichéd. There is actually also comedy to be had; I found Chris Pratt’s character to be genuinely funny with some truly witty lines, and his character is the difference in my view of Delivery Man being a 5/10 and not a 4/10.
In not giving Vince Vaughn free reign, Delivery Man proves to be his best film for a long time and actually makes him a watchable leading man, but (Chris Pratt’s genuinely funny turn aside) the film’s deeply flawed and predictable story just prevents it from ever rising above predictable mediocre schmaltz.