By Bill Wine
KYW Newsradio 1060
PHILADELPHIA (CBS) — The original was called Starbuck. This remake, Delivery Man, switches the setting from Quebec to New York City, but otherwise tells the same tale in the same way.
Both give birth to warmhearted and amusing entertainment, featuring a pregnant premise if ever there were one.
Vince Vaughn stars as David Wozniak, a good-natured slacker who drives a meat truck for the family’s butcher shop.
He owes money to some dangerous loansharks, and his pregnant policewoman girlfriend (Cobie Smulders) has informed him that she doesn’t trust him to be a suitable father for their child and will therefore raise her child herself.
Then he’s informed by a sperm-donor clinic that his numerous deposits two decades ago were overused and have resulted in the fathering of 533 children, 142 of whom have now filed a class-action lawsuit challenging the legality of the signed confidentiality forms and aimed at discovering the identity of their biological dad.
When his lawyer and friend, played by Chris Pratt, obtains files on the 142 kids suing him, David’s fatherly instinct kicks in and he decides to look in on some of his young-adult children without identifying himself, interacting with them individually in secret and seeing himself as a guardian angel who might be able to contribute something useful or even critical to each of their lives.
And, in the process, perhaps he can demonstrate to his girlfriend that he might make a good father after all.
Canadian Ken Scott, who directed the original French-Canadian comedy as well as Sticky Fingers, has written and directed this redo and, like its predecessor, it’s warmly engaging, naturalistically funny, and frequently touching.
Vaughn dials down his usual motormouth-smartaleck persona (not, as they say, that there’s anything wrong with that) and turns in a thoughtful, low-keyed performance that matches the material smartly.
My only complaint about the premise remains the same as it was for the original: that 533 number is so extravagant, so extreme, so unwieldy, it makes the film feel much more cartoonlike and clumsy than it actually is. Not that the film has to be realistic, but wouldn’t it have made more sense to keep the number of children to a manageable single digit? Or at least double?
That said, viewers who missed or passed up the original should be pleasantly entertained.
So we’ll father 3 stars out of 4 for a charming and poignant dramedy about parenthood. The conception may beg a question or two, but Delivery Man delivers.