In director Ken Scott’s newest film “Delivery Man,” excessive sperm donation drives the plot of this season’s biggest family film in more ways than one.
In this feel-good family flick, Scott gives an Americanized spin on his original French-Canadian film “Starbuck.” The narrative starts with meat deliveryman David Wozniak (Vince Vaughn), who is always tied up in some form of questionable get-rich-fast scheme.
His plans, however, usually backfire, and he bites the big one when he ends up in the middle of a huge lawsuit regarding 533 children he accidentally fathered through excessive sperm donation during college under the alias “Starbuck.”
David, whose identity is hidden through an anonymity clause, opts to intervene in a number of his children’s lives and acts as an unorthodox guardian angel. As he anonymously gets to know each one (the basketball star, the actor, the intellect, the drug addict), he faces the difficult decision to announce himself or to stay silent.
Instead of going in the obvious direction of a slapstick, raunchy comedy with excessive below-the-belt commentary on sperm donation, “Delivery Man” turns out to be a touching film about family.
This is not to say, however, that the film is without humor. Witty and relatable jokes, mainly taking jabs at David and the general struggles of family life, keep the audience laughing. The characters themselves bring on the most laughs. The comedy is expertly interwoven with moments of surprising tenderness as the film explores the meaning and importance of family.
Vaughn is right on the money in his role as David. Straying from his usual “cool guy” role, he successfully grasps the concept of the character. He’s unexpectedly charming as he glides from clueless bachelor to proud father, and sometimes a mixture of both. Additionally, Vaughn’s timing brings both humor and vulnerability to the screen as the family comedy’s bread and butter.
While the film poses little in the way of visual spectacle, it makes up for it by concisely and poignantly unraveling the touching stories of David’s children in a number of vignettes. In one particularly powerful sequence, David comes face-to-face with a difficult situation when he learns one of his children has grown up with a developmental disease. Even in moments without dialogue, David’s mixed emotions while meeting one of his sons jump off the screen.
Likewise, David’s friends and family help bind the vignettes together and move the narrative along smoothly. More importantly, they ground the film in relatable terms such that the film takes on a surprisingly personal tone. These supporting characters also bring a lot of the humor with some of the choicest lines. David’s best friend (Chris Pratt), a deadbeat lawyer and family man, provides some particularly nice sarcasm as a perpetually exhausted father with three kids constantly climbing all over him.
Without the personality the film acquires through character development, the plot, though admittedly feel-good, would have been left too predictable. Although it lacks the depth more serious films bring to the table, it’s hard not to chuckle through this warmhearted comedy. Given the genre, however, this is not entirely unexpected.
Anyone looking for a life-changing movie will ultimately be disappointed. For people looking for a warm family film and a few good post-turkey laughs during the holiday season, “Delivery Man” is definitely a great consideration.