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‘Delivery Man’: Vince Vaughn’s fertility comedy shoots blanks

‘DELIVERY MAN’ ★★

David Wozniak | Vince Vaughn

Brett | Chris Pratt

Emma | Cobie Smulders

Dreamworks Pictures and Reliance Entertainment present a film written and directed by Ken Scott, based on his screenplay “Starbuck.” Running time: 105 minutes. Rated PG-13 (for thematic elements, sexual content, some drug material, brief violence and language). Opens Nov. 22 at local theaters.

Updated: December 23, 2013 2:37PM



Whether he’s a “Wedding Crasher” or taking an “Internship,” going on a “Couples Retreat,” taking it “Old School,” spending “Four Christmases” with family members or trying to figure out how to handle “The Dilemma,” Vince Vaughn always seems to be playing overgrown good-time guys who never fail to get the laughs — and never fail to disappoint the wife or girlfriend who’s looking for real commitment and maturity.

Until, of course, he learns the real meaning of commitment and maturity.

In the remake of the French-Canadian hit comedy “Starbuck,” now titled “Delivery Man” because who doesn’t love a punny title, Vaughn plays a fast-talking, underachieving, irresponsible lout who learns he’s the biological father of some 533 children.

Weird concept. Weird movie.

Reprising his writing and directing chores from the original, Ken Scott gives us an uneven mishmash that alternates between easy gags, shameless sentimentality and some just plain bizarre choices.

Vaughn, of course, is in his comfort zone playing David Wozniak, an inept deliveryman for the family’s meat business, Wozniak & Sons. When David’s not accumulating parking tickets, letting down the company basketball team or dodging generic thugs to whom he owes 80 grand, he’s screwing things up with girlfriend Emma (Cobie Smulders).

Like a hundred other beautiful, too-good-for-the-likes-of-him girlfriends in a hundred other movies, Emma reaches that moment in her life when she answers the door in the middle of the night and tells David she can’t take it anymore. It’s time for him to go home, and it’s time for her to get on with her life.

This is around the same time that David learns there was a massive screwup at the fertility clinic where he made more than 600 deposits in the early 1990s. For reasons never fully (or really even partially) explained, the clinic used only David’s sperm over a three-year period, resulting in more than 500 children, all of them now teenagers or in their early 20s.

Confidentiality agreements notwithstanding, 142 of the kids have filed a lawsuit to learn the identity of the donor known only as Starbuck.

David’s best friend Brett (Chris Pratt, doing that open-faced goofball thing he does extremely well) hands David an envelope containing the files on all the kids, with the warning, “Don’t open that!” Uh-uh.

A few notes about David’s biological progeny. Apparently they’re all fans of the TV show “Glee” and they had great-looking mothers who did pretty terrific work raising them because you’ve never seen a more attractive, more enthusiastic bunch of fresh-faced kids in your life. Even the girl with the drug problem looks like a junior model and seems capable of kicking the habit in about a week. Plus, she’s stylish and peppy! These kids don’t look and act as if they grew up in New York; they act as if they were raised on a giant soundstage.

Where are the moms? We never hear a single reference to the moms. We never see any moms. We just tag along as David barges into the lives of some of the kids, all of whom blissfully accept the kindness of this hulking stranger.

Scott isn’t afraid to turn on the mawkish faucet full force especially when David visits his special-needs son. He spends a couple of hours with the kid, and the nurse keeps telling him what a hero he is instead of saying, “Where the hell you been all these years, a------?”

There’s also an insanely upbeat picnic scene that makes no sense in the context of where we’re at in the story. None.

The good stuff: Vaughn, doing this Vince Vaughn thing. Pratt, who deserves the lead in his own romantic comedy. Smulders, doing what she can with the girlfriend role.

When the Starbuck case goes to court, there’s some perfunctory talk about how huge it is on Twitter and how everyone has an opinion about the rights of the children vs. the confidentiality agreement the parents signed some two decades ago — but “Delivery Man” never delves into anything approaching a serious, or even a sharply satirical debate, about that subject. If anything, the story gets more ludicrous and sentimental with each passing development, leaving us right where we expected (and kinda feared) we’d end up.

Email: rroeper@suntimes.com

Twitter: @richardroeper



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