Thursday, 17 April, 2014

Published January 03, 2014
From zero to sperm-bank hero
Delivery Man is a whimsical dramedy about sowing wild oats and reaping the comeuppance, writes GEOFFREY EU
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Luck of the draw: Vince Vaughn swims against the tide to imbue the film with some semblance of box-office sparkle. - PHOTO: DREAMWORKS II

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DELIVERY Man has its heart in the right place, but a dramedy that lacks an essential ingredient - humour - will find it difficult to impress. Not that there aren't a few laughs to be had but this Vince Vaughn vehicle, about a nice guy who has made bad decisions throughout his life and is then compelled by events to take an unconventional look at parenthood, can't make up its mind about which route to take. In the end, it is neither serious nor funny enough to pass muster.

Delivery Man, directed by Ken Scott, is a remake of his French-Canadian film Starbuck, but something seems to have been lost in translation. By Hollywood standards, the storyline is sufficiently ludicrous - and therefore quite promising: the past catches up with David Wozniak (Vaughn) when the sperm bank where he made multiple donations in his youth (under the name Starbuck) informs him that he has fathered 533 children, some 142 of whom are now suing to find out the identity of their biological father.

He may have championship-calibre sperm but in real life Wozniak is a world-class failure, a disappointment to everyone including his long-suffering father (Andrzej Blumenfeld). He drives a van for his family's meat business but is totally unreliable and can't seem to run simple errands or make deliveries on time. On top of that he owes money to the mob, and his erstwhile girlfriend Emma (Cobie Smulders) is pregnant. He implores his lawyer friend Brett (Chris Pratt) to help keep his identity secret.

David's skills as a dad may be wanting, but curiosity gets the better of him and he decides to find out more about the kids, who are all in their late teens or early 20s.

Naturally, parental pride kicks in and he serves as a guardian angel-cum-supporter to the kids, who range from a pro basketball player and lifeguard at a public pool to street musician, drug addict and quadriplegic.

Meanwhile, Emma - unaware of his previous profligacy - puts him on probation as a dad-to-be. It's no surprise that David - a good-hearted man to begin with - finds his purpose in life. It's not normal to go from zero to 533 kids but the change in parental status hardly seems to faze him.

Delivery Man shamelessly creates a variety of cringe-worthy situations and never shies from manipulating the audience to its point of view. Vaughn and Pratt are irritatingly likeable and provide a buffer that obscures many of the film's deficiencies but Delivery Man is woefully short on subtlety - in the end, it simply fails to deliver.

Rating: C