Vince Vaughn goes for warm & fuzzy as a fantastically fertile father
Starring Vince Vaughn, Chris Pratt and Cobie Smulders
Directed by Ken Scott
PG-13, 105 min.
When Brooklyn meat delivery-truck driver David Wozniak (Vince Vaughn) discovers that anonymous sperm donations he made to a fertility clinic some decades ago have resulted in more than 500 now-adult children, he decides to check them out. Not all of them—just the 142 New Yorkers who are suing to find out the true identity of their dad.
So the deliveryman who’s sewn his seeds over the Big Apple goes off to see how they’ve sprouted—without letting any of them know who he really is.
This remake—by the same director—of a 2011 French-Canadian flick called Starbuck (after a champion stud breeding bull) follows Wozniak as he interacts with his offspring. He encourages the street musician, cheers for the historical reenactor, gets a manicure from the salon worker, and subs for the barista at a coffee shop so the aspiring actor can skip work and go to an audition.
He even saves the heroin addict from an overdose.
There’s also a subplot about how Wozniak’s latest get-rich scheme has resulted in a massive debt to some sleazy loan sharks, and about his girlfriend (Cobie Smulders of How I Met Your Mother), who’s pregnant with his baby but not really expecting her screw-up of a partner to be much of a co-parent.
Can “Starbuck” turn his life around and become the man he needs to be—and the father he already is, 500 times over?
Vaughn, whose acting career has generally been defined by playing slouchy, raunchy man-child slackers, takes a decided turn toward the warm and fuzzy here, but still retains enough of his trademark comedic brand to not totally surprise anyone expecting to see a “Vince Vaughn movie.” It’s Chris Pratt, however, a supporting player on TV’s Parks and Recreation, who snatches most of the laughs right out from under him as his best friend and lawyer buddy.
There’s something creepy about a grown man sneaking around, spying on dozens of barely 20-somethings, sneakily tweaking their lives. There’s something implausible about just how swell, well adjusted and full of sunshine all these kids are, even the heroin addict. And the scenes in which Vaughn interacts with his severely disabled son (Sébastien René, reprising his role from the original movie), meant to show Wozniak’s love for all his kids, instead come off as manipulative and mawkish.
Ultimately, this tall tale of a fantastically fertile lug and his epic leap into the nether-reaches of fatherhood has a message about family, connectivity and belonging that wraps around its comic center like one giant group hug. But Delivery Man makes you slog down a long road of soppy, artificially sweet goop to get to it.
—Neil Pond, American Profile Magazine