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Review: Delivery Man

Nov. 20, 2013by: Eric Walkuski

PLOT: An affable loser prone to donating generously at the sperm bank discovers that he's fathered hundreds of children - who know want to get to know him.

REVIEW: Going into DELIVERY MAN, I was prepared for another sardonic Vince Vaughn comedy with another smirky "Everyone is an idiot but me" performance from the actor; seems as though you get exactly what you expect. But I was surprised (might be going too far to say I was pleasantly surprised) to find that the film, a remake of a popular French-Canadian movie titled STARBUCK, is more of a heartstring-tugger, the kind a younger Robin Williams might have found himself in. There's no doubt it's manipulative, sometimes shamefully so, but it's not so bad as far as these things go, and Vaughn turns out to be a rather sympathetic lead.

The pitch is pure sitcom: Struggling loser Dave Wozniak is the low man on the totem pole at his family butcher business (he's the delivery guy), is barely keeping his girlfriend (Cobie Smulders) interested in him and is perpetually in debt. He's evidently always had money problems: twenty years ago he made a minor fortune giving contributions to a sperm bank under the pseudonym "Starbuck"; over 500 contributions, in fact. Now, while he's being hunted by smalltime crooks for money owed and disappointing his family at every turn, Dave gets the news that almost all of those "donations" proved fruitful, and now he has about 500 kids.

Naturally, a movie about a man with 500 children would be stretching the credibility allowed by even the wackiest of comedies, so DELIVERY MAN pairs it down to a little over 100. That is to say, of all those donations, about 100+ of Dave's "children" are actually curious about the man who helped create them. They've hired a law firm to find this mysterious man, whose identity is protected thanks to a contract made with the sperm bank, so now it's up to Dave whether or not he wants to protect his many secrets, or confront them.

Dave's lawyer friend Brett (Chris Pratt) convinces him to fight the request (anonymously, of course), but Dave's curiosity gets the best of him: he starts peeking into the lives of his many kids. One is a basketball star, one is an actor working a coffee shop job, one is a suicidal mess, etc. Before he knows it, Dave is acting as something of a guardian angel to his offspring, all the while keeping his identity hidden from them But things get complicated when he discovers that the whole lot of them have banded together in a support group, which he inadvertently finds himself a part of.

Yes, DELIVERY MAN is filled with ironic conveniences of this kind, and writer-director Ken Scott (who directed the original film) has various degrees of success executing their believability. Of course, we're not here to buy this ludicrous story, but sometimes a movie strains your patience with just how far-fetched it's willing to go, and Scott goes above and beyond the rational limits. (C'mon, he starts hanging out with these dozens of teenagers and A) no one thinks it's even slightly weird, and B) not one of them even guesses that he's actually "Starbuck"?) The director is rather capable at maintaining an agreeable atmosphere; the film is never a slog or dull.

In addition to its implausibility, DELIVERY MAN lays on the sap thick and often. Much of it feels too forced and overly sentimental - especially when we get to the part where Dave learns one of his children is mentally handicapped and living in a foster home. I can take the schmaltzy stuff (and it must be admitted that Scott is not untalented at prodding you in the soft spot when he nails a genuine moment), but DELIVERY MAN is close to crossing a line here, using the unfortunate young man as nothing more than a plot device to help Dave mature and get us reaching for the hankies. Come on, movie, leave that poor kid out of it.

But there's an amiable tone to DELIVERY MAN that makes the proceedings bearable; most of that is thanks to Vaughn, who as mentioned shows off a kinder, gentler side here to positive effect. We get some of the snarky Vaughn that is simply natural to the actor's persona, but for the most part he's a gentle soul here, showing us some range as a man who struggles with his moral conundrum. As his friend, Chris Pratt is the more peevish of the two, cracking off one-liners and asides with humorous ease. They make a good team.

Do I recommend this movie? I recommend it for a certain segment of the audience; a family looking for a none-too-offensive, holiday-friendly comedy could do much worse, but someone seeking out a raunchy number, or something edgy or unpredictable, will likely be turned off by the film's treacly messages about responsibility and family. Yeah I know, who wants to see that stuff, but if you're seeking out something that forgoes the cynical and nasty tendencies Hollywood comedies are prone to these days, DELIVERY MAN might be a welcome respite.

Source: JoBlo.com

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6:28PM on 11/20/2013
Kinda sad how a movie will lose points for being heart warming or family friendly. Nevermind if it's a good movie or not...does it appeal to my R-rated, raunchy, sensibilities? No... 6/10. This sounds like an 7/10 or even an 8/10 and I'm looking forward to seeing it.
Kinda sad how a movie will lose points for being heart warming or family friendly. Nevermind if it's a good movie or not...does it appeal to my R-rated, raunchy, sensibilities? No... 6/10. This sounds like an 7/10 or even an 8/10 and I'm looking forward to seeing it.
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12:24PM on 11/20/2013
I don't understand your rating system!?!?!?!?!

How are you giving the movie a 6 when you state in your review that the movie is great as a family-friendly comedy or at least something on the more tame/less offensive comedy side oppose to the overly cynical and raunchy comedies put out by Hollywood. Given your statement, you're saying the movie is good, just for one type of audience (which most movies are made for) so why a 6? Why not a 7 or 8?
I don't understand your rating system!?!?!?!?!

How are you giving the movie a 6 when you state in your review that the movie is great as a family-friendly comedy or at least something on the more tame/less offensive comedy side oppose to the overly cynical and raunchy comedies put out by Hollywood. Given your statement, you're saying the movie is good, just for one type of audience (which most movies are made for) so why a 6? Why not a 7 or 8?
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5:33PM on 11/20/2013
I think it's because, I don't know, just a guess, I think it's because not everyone thinks alike...but maybe that's just me.
I think it's because, I don't know, just a guess, I think it's because not everyone thinks alike...but maybe that's just me.
+5
3:40PM on 11/20/2013
I saw it last night, and this site is definitely being harsh with its rating. I'd give Delivery Man a 7.5 or an 8 out of 10. It has a lot of heart and really tries to be a great film, it comes up a little short, but it's still a very good movie.
I saw it last night, and this site is definitely being harsh with its rating. I'd give Delivery Man a 7.5 or an 8 out of 10. It has a lot of heart and really tries to be a great film, it comes up a little short, but it's still a very good movie.
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2:58PM on 11/20/2013

Why be so harsh?

Seriously, of course it is a sappy holiday-ish comedy, nothing wrong with that. Given what I read, it doesn't sound 6/10 bad.
Seriously, of course it is a sappy holiday-ish comedy, nothing wrong with that. Given what I read, it doesn't sound 6/10 bad.
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11:28AM on 11/20/2013
I actually really looking forward to this Vince Vaughn is always solid and Chris Pratt is a rising star in my eyes. Also, Cobie Smulders is solid as well.
I actually really looking forward to this Vince Vaughn is always solid and Chris Pratt is a rising star in my eyes. Also, Cobie Smulders is solid as well.
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10:46AM on 11/20/2013
I'm really looking forward to this. I'm a huge Vince Vaughn fan and the concept sounds funny. And it's nice to know that Vaughn is stretching his acting chops in this one.
I'm really looking forward to this. I'm a huge Vince Vaughn fan and the concept sounds funny. And it's nice to know that Vaughn is stretching his acting chops in this one.
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+0
12:59AM on 11/21/2013
So this is actually a Starbuck remake? I didn't think it was, despite the very similar plots. Didn't Starbuck just come out? Wanted to see that one. This looked mediocre to me. I like Vince Vaughn, but his shtick is old now. This film looked boring. When a trailer can't make me laugh and it's soft spots are obvious, then it's usually a pass. But then again, it's rare a comedy can get me to come out to the theater these days. It has to be something outrageous, surprising, smart in order for me
So this is actually a Starbuck remake? I didn't think it was, despite the very similar plots. Didn't Starbuck just come out? Wanted to see that one. This looked mediocre to me. I like Vince Vaughn, but his shtick is old now. This film looked boring. When a trailer can't make me laugh and it's soft spots are obvious, then it's usually a pass. But then again, it's rare a comedy can get me to come out to the theater these days. It has to be something outrageous, surprising, smart in order for me to care.
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5:32PM on 11/20/2013

I have never seen the word "treacly" before.

I had to look up the definition of it to see if it even existed because I thought you maybe made a typo. ;-)
I had to look up the definition of it to see if it even existed because I thought you maybe made a typo. ;-)
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12:57PM on 11/20/2013
I watched the trailer and it looks fun, but I'm a little hesitant as well. Vince Vahn can be hit or miss for me. I couldn't help but wish (while watching the trailer) that we would find out he has a black, or an asian child as well. I could imagine him trying to get into an all black sorority, or college. I can imagine the funny dialogue that would come come from that. Uhhh? Why are you pledging an all black sorority? Your white, and your like fifty years old. LOL!
I watched the trailer and it looks fun, but I'm a little hesitant as well. Vince Vahn can be hit or miss for me. I couldn't help but wish (while watching the trailer) that we would find out he has a black, or an asian child as well. I could imagine him trying to get into an all black sorority, or college. I can imagine the funny dialogue that would come come from that. Uhhh? Why are you pledging an all black sorority? Your white, and your like fifty years old. LOL!
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