With Vince Vaughn, Chris Pratt, Cobie Smulders, Andrzej Blumenfeld, Simon Delaney. Written and directed by Ken Scott. Rated PG-13 for thematic elements, sexual content, some drug material, brief violence and language. 103 minutes.
Someday, on a rainy afternoon with nothing to do, you’re going to be flipping around the channels on your cable box and come across DELIVERY MAN. It will probably be on Lifetime. And you’ll find yourself moderately entertained by this slight, sweet film. You may wonder why you never heard of it. It’s because it’s opening the same weekend as “Catching Fire” and no one really cared what else was new. It’s the sacrificial lamb.
Based on a Québécois film called “Starbuck” and written and directed by Ken Scott, who co-wrote the original, it’s a comedy about a lovable loser named David (Vince Vaughn) who finds himself in extraordinary circumstances and somehow––eventually––makes it all right. He drives the delivery truck for the family butcher shop and is a bit of a screw-up. When we first meet him he is deeply in debt to some unsavory types and desperate for money. His girlfriend Emma (Cobie Smulders) announces she’s pregnant and doesn’t think he’d make a very responsible father. The truck with the uniforms for the butcher shop’s basketball team has just been towed for unpaid parking tickets. In short, David’s life is a mess.
That’s when he’s notified that David’s not the only one who has screwed up. It seems that back in his twenties, he made a lot of money as a very frequent depositor at a sperm bank. They seem to have gone through a period where they were using his seed exclusively, and now he is the biological father of 533 children. Worse, 142 of them have filed a class action lawsuit to break the confidentiality agreements the sperm bank signed with him and make his identity public so they can know their father.
Yes, it’s a big contrivance, although the late revelation as to why he did it is handled so subtly you may miss it. The focus of the story is how David––and his lawyer Brett (Chris Pratt)––fight the lawsuit. While the lawyer sees this as the opportunity to vindicate a failing legal career, David becomes curious about his adult “children” and starts seeking them out one by one. Without revealing himself, he helps them in different ways, discovering something to live for beyond himself.
See? It’s sweet and mildly amusing with Vaughn playing the opposite of his usual motormouth hustler characters. Pratt is also funny, particularly in practicing his legal arguments before his own brood of four youngsters. David’s various offspring are sketched in quickly. Some are more troubled than others but all prove deserving of his love and support, which makes you wonder if all the misfits were among the 391 who decided not to sue.
“Delivery Man” is slight but feel-good entertainment. It probably should have gone right to Lifetime in the first place, because it’s not going to be finding much of a home in movie theaters this weekend•••
Daniel M. Kimmel is a veteran movie critic and author of a host of film-related books. His first novel, Shh! It’s A Secret: A Novel About Aliens, Hollywood and the Bartender’s Guide has just been released. He lives in Somerville, Massachusetts.