Based on the French-Canadian hit, Starbuck, writer/director Ken Scott’s Delivery Man is a heartwarming film that packs more drama than comedy it in its brisk 105 minutes. Vince Vaughn reminds us that he’s more than the smartass wiseguy who can kill with the one-liners. In Delivery Man, the actor shows a tender side that’s been absent in many of his recent comedies. The film’s moderate success last November got lost Catching Fire hysteria; the two films opened on the same weekend. Now on Blu-ray and digital, Delivery Man has a chance to be discovered by audiences that overlooked it. I hope so, because I found it to be thoughtful and full of charm.
Vaughn plays David, a big-hearted underachiever who squeaks out a living as a meat delivery truck driver working for his father and two brothers. He has a girlfriend, Emma (Cobie Smulders), who’s carrying his child, and a best friend, Brett (a wonderful Chris Pratt), who is also his lawyer. David is also in debt to some local goons for $80K, which puts him on edge whenever people knock on his apartment door.
Compounding everything, David is informed that his numerous sperm donations in the early 1990s proved to be such strong samples, the doctors used his sperm in over 600 Women. The result: 533 children. Now, those 533 have come together and want to know the identity of their biological father. Just like that, David the man-child must grow up. Faced with the choice of revealing that he’s “Starbuck,” the pseudonym he used for all of those donations, David decides to meet some of his children.
There isn’t enough time to show David meet all of the kids (wouldn’t this make a compelling TV series though? Guy finds out he has 533 kids and spends each episode getting to know one of them) but we do see him meet and interact with several, including: Adam (Dave Patten) a street musician, Kristen (Britt Robertston) a troubled young woman trying to gain control of her life, Taylor (Amos VanderPoel) a lifeguard, and Josh (Jack Reynor) a struggling actor. The most compelling of these “lost children” storylines is Ryan, a disabled young man confined to a wheelchair and being raised in an institution for mentally handicapped adults. Vaughn is particularly effective during these scenes. His scene-stealing co-star is Sebastien Rene, who is so convincing, the cast and crew though he was actually disabled. It should be noted that Rene played this same role in Starbuck.
The story builds to a legal confrontation between David, represented by an out-of-his- league Brett, and the 533. As you would hope/expect, all of the story lines converge by the film’s end and everyone crowds around in a hospotal waiting room, hoping to get a glimpse of Emma and David’s newborn, their new baby brother. Director Scott (who also co-wrote and directed Starbuck-a film barely acknowledged in Delivery Man’s bonus features) emphasizes the humanity of the characters. He impressed me with his light touch and desire to create honest portrayals out of this outrageous plot. Vaughn and Pratt are both excellent, each walking the line between comedy and pathos with ease. The rest of the film’s supporting cast is excellent, too. Andrzej Blumenfeld, as David’s father, brings much needed heart and gravitas to his role, while SNL vet, Bobby Moynihan really impressed me with a mostly dramatic turn as one of David’s brothers.
When I was watching Delivery Man, I kept thinking of Hal Ashby’s movies, humanistic stories that placed his characters in unique and sometimes incredible situations. Delivery Man is not quite on the same level as Ashby’s, but if you long for films that manage to blend comedy with quiet, thoughtful moments, I recommend it.