- Vince Vaughn - you ARE the father!
I enjoyed Delivery Man. Lead actor Vince Vaughn's character is refreshingly sincere, supporting actor Chris Pratt — so wonderful as Andy Dwyer on Parks and Recreation — is in fine form, and the comedy-drama has a good heart. What works in the movie outweighs what doesn't and I hope you opt to see it.
You'll need to leave your cynicism at home, however. Those willing to meet the film halfway will find it funny, sweet and life affirming. Snarky viewers may roll their eyes over the unapologetic sentimental moments and the frayed edges of the storyline.
Delivery Man made me happy. No surprise, as I enjoyed the original, Canadian director and co-writer Ken Scott's French language Starbuck. That little movie was so well-received that Delivery Man was made for the English-speaking audience. Another remake, called Fonzy, was released in France early this year. And this review is a remake of my original Starbuck essay.
In real life Starbuck is the name of a Canadian Holstein sire famed for his exceptional genetics, which revolutionized Holstein breeding worldwide (thank you, Wikipedia). In the film versions, Starbuck is the nickname for David Wozniak (Vaughn), an affable fortysomething meat delivery truck driver in New York City who has mostly bumbled his way through life. His girlfriend, Emma, (Colbie Smulders of How I Met Your Mother) is pregnant and unhappy. David is $80,000 in debt and goons are threatening to start breaking body parts. Then we get to the interesting part.
In his youth, David earned money by making donations to a sperm bank. Turns out his deposits resulted in the birth of 533 babies. They're young adults now and 142 of them have organized a class action lawsuit to discover the identity of their father.
David's lawyer buddy, Brett, (Pratt) urges him to simply lay low and let the case run its course. But David has been provided with information on the litigants and curiosity gets the best of him, so he quietly starts checking out his children – electing to become the guardian angel for as many as possible.
Starbuck has sitcom moments. It gets lumpy and sentimental at times. Hell, there's even a group hug. But it works in large part because Scott and Martin Petit's screenplay is well-measured and the characters reasonable. So many times I've been pulled out of a story because the characters stopped acting like real people and turned into cartoonish constructs of show-off writers. There are moments in the original Starbuck that had me whispering, "Oh no, they're going to screw it up!" But Starbuck didn't and neither does Delivery Man. They never crossed the line of implausibility and good on them for that.
The other reason that Delivery Man satisfies is the lead casting. Pratt, one of my favorite actors, is funny but appropriately grounded as David's friend. Then there's Vaughn as David/Starbuck. The character could have gone wrong so easily in so many ways, but Vaughn manages to keep David likeable without minimizing his flaws or milking his plight for sympathy. Delivery Man is amusing, heartfelt and smart enough to keep from succumbing to its own premise.