Beyond being humorless and unintentionally offensive, Ken Scott’s Delivery Man fails due to a premise that simply doesn’t make sense. No, not the initial concept of 142 children suing a fertility clinic to learn the identity of their biological father, code-named “Starbuck.” That idea mostly adds up. The problem is the next step, in which David Wozniak (Vince Vaughn), the donor in question, is given a packet with all of the plaintiffs’ information by his lawyer friend Brett (a sadly reserved Chris Pratt).
Other than being a complete imbecile, which he only somewhat proves to be, it’s ridiculous for Brett to take such action on multiple levels. Why he would point out the envelope’s existence is a mystery, but why he himself doesn’t keep it safe is downright incredulous. On top of that, whatever responsible stewardship he apparently expects upon sending it home with David and demanding that he not look at, the outlandish choice nullifies what does happen when David (*surprise*) takes a peek.
Delivery Man being a “heartwarming” comedy, the discovery of these offspring and David’s deadbeat, primed-for-a-change status means the rest of the film involves him making anonymous contact with his children and trying to make a difference however he can. Far from his predictable yet dependable rapid-fire self, this tranquilized version of Vaughn often catches these young folks at convenient crossroads moments, such as actor Josh (Jack Reynor), who just happens to have the audition of a lifetime, or the overdose of drug addict Kristen (Britt Robertson).
Through these interactions, the film tries and fails at humor and drama, often stretching for cheap laughs and the occasional tissue moment on sight alone. Such tasteless antics include David discovering he has a black daughter, a gay son, or, in perhaps the film’s most blatant overreaching, a mentally disabled son. Trying to cover the gamut of birth possibilities, these diverse humans and the distinct audience responses they intend to produce backfire, revealing the film as far less open and loving than it assumes.
Surrounding Delivery Man’s miserable quest are a score of other narrative misfires as well. A strange dark component of mafia-type bruisers torturing debt-owing David in one scene and allusions of them roughing up their father (Andrzej Blumenfeld) in another doesn’t fit and neither does David’s ambiguous relationship with his girlfriend Emma (Cobie Smulders). Cold to David in one scene and suddenly chummy the next, her character shows little agency and, once “Starbuck” becomes a media sensation, turns blockhead with criticism that having 533 children “isn’t normal,” not taking into account that it was the fertility clinic who used his samples so many times. Her mental image of a giant stroller for this unusual family is but one sign of the film’s brainless nature. Offering weak representations of both the child-free argument and the moronically-reached pro-child one, Delivery Man proves itself inept at each and of basic cinematic storytelling.
Rated PG-13 for thematic elements, sexual content, some drug material, brief violence and language.
Delivery Man is currently playing at the Carolina Cinemas on Hendersonville Rd.