Delivery Man is an English-language remake of the 2011 French-Canadian film Starbuck (which was also remade in France this year as Fonzy); written and directed by Ken Scott, who also made the original, this version stars Vince Vaughn and Cobie Smulders, with Chris Pratt, Bobby Moynihan and Polish actor Andrzej Blumenfeld rounding out the main cast.
1. What’s it about?
Vaughn plays David Wozniak, an underachieving slacker who learns that not only is his girlfriend pregnant, but he is also the biological father of 533 children due to anonymous donations made for pay at a fertility clinic 20 years earlier. 142 of his new-found offspring wish to meet him and are preparing a class-action lawsuit. Chris Pratt (Parks & Recreation, Guardians of the Galaxy) plays his buddy/lawyer.
2. Will I like it?
I went in with very low expectations and was very pleasantly surprised. I’m not a huge fan of the sort of movies Vaughn usually makes (Wedding Crashers, The Break-Up, Couples Therapy, etc.), and the premise of Delivery Man sounds like it would be a lowbrow collection of outtakes from There’s Something About Mary. Don’t let the trailers fool you; surprisingly free of both vulgarity and sentimental slop, Delivery Man is a very good film. It’s positive and genuine, with a real humanity to it. The characters act like real people. I won’t say it’s “heartwarming,” because to me that connotes a manipulative and insincere attempt to provoke emotion; Delivery Man is better than that.
3. Will my kids like it?
Have you had “the talk” yet? If not, taking them to see Delivery Man is pretty much a guarantee that you’re going to discuss where babies come from. Beyond the subject matter, though, the film isn’t likely to interest them much. Older kids may enjoy it, but since it deals primarily in the struggle for maturity and responsibility on the part of a guy who has never exercised either, with not a car crash or slapstick moment to be found, I’d categorize it as more a film for date night without the kids, unless your kids are the type who take to quieter and more introspective entertainment and don’t need the occasional fart joke to stay interested.
4. Is it funny?
It is frequently funny, but the comedy is quieter and more character-driven than most kid movies go for. Very little is overtly played for laughs at the expense of believability; most of Vaughn’s comedy is rooted in David getting himself into situations he can’t get out of, while the rest of the actors are just funny because they’re funny. Bobby Moynihan plays David’s brother, whose wife is expecting their first child when the film opens; his panicked and stressed-out dad-to-be, and later, proud father who brags about the quality of his child’s diapers, is very familiar to all dads. We can relate. Blumenfeld’s performance as David’s father is nuanced and completely real, showing us a man who loves his sons while nonetheless being exasperated by their actions. Cobie Smulders gets only a few scenes, serving primarily to observe David’s growing maturity, but her performance gives David a reason to try to change. Chris Pratt is much smarter and more interesting here than on Parks & Recreation, though there are echoes of Andy in bumbling lawyer/hapless dad Brett.
5. Could it really happen?
While the premise may sound a little far-fetched, it actually has some basis in reality. For a long time, the artificial insemination industry was under-regulated, and there are several donors with more than 100 children; the Donor Sibling Registry, which helps children locate their biological siblings, includes several donors with 70 or more offspring. In 2012, a British doctor was found to have fathered somewhere between 600 and 1,000 children by using his own sperm at the clinic he operated with his wife.
6. Will I want to see it again?
Possibly, though you may choose instead to find the prior versions from Montreal and France to compare and contrast. I haven’t seen either of them yet, but I’m intrigued. You may also find yourself looking up articles online like the ones I linked to earlier; the questions about artificial insemination and its impact on society and genetics is an interesting one; how will the human race be affected by the sudden introduction of hundreds of children all with the same father? By hundreds of such fathers? How will the legal system balance the donor’s right to privacy with the child’s right to know his or her origins? There are dozens of such questions raised by both Delivery Man and the real-life examples, and those questions aren’t going to go away or be resolved any time soon, though the film may help to calm some fears a bit. It’s a rational and humanistic exploration of the issues.