Delivery Man review: return to sender

Delivery Man red light Vince Vaughn

What is supposed to be funny and heartwarming is instead creepy and stalkerish. There’s no charm or emotional plausibility in a tale that cannot work without it.
I’m “biast” (pro): nothing

I’m “biast” (con): hated the Canadian original

(what is this about? see my critic’s minifesto)

It’s meant to be hilarious, it would seem. Brooklynite David Wozniak (Vince Vaughn: The Internship) unknowingly fathered 533 children by anonymous artificial insemination decades back, and now 142 of his young-adult biological offspring have filed a class-action lawsuit to learn his identity. Comedy ensues, until David learns the true meaning of fatherhood and the basic expectations that come with being an adult human being, which he’s never had to bother with before, because his boyish doofiness has been tolerated by all around him. All the charm of Starbuck, the Canadian film this is a near scene-by-scene, beat-by-beat remake of, remains intact here… which is to say, none at all. What is supposed to be funny and heartwarming is instead creepy and stalkerish, as David injects himself into the lives of some of the 142 to become a sort of guardian angel, and the kids are so dumb, apparently, that when they discover they’ve all met him in various random suspicious circumstances, no one catches on that he’s the guy they’re all looking for. The new title makes less sense than the original, which referred to David’s fertility-clinic pseudonym — David delivers meat for his family’s butcher business, but he’s not anything like a midwife to these kids, so it doesn’t work as wordplay — but this new version does at least address some of the legal and ethical issues involved, which the first film ignored even as it used the lawsuit as the rationale for its plot. But writer-director Ken Scott, remaking his own film, doesn’t address them in any meaningful or involving way. The kids are barely characters here, and simply having someone tell David that “wherever you go, people love you” isn’t enough to make us believe it, unless we’re meant to accept that forcing sketches of humans together into situations that could only exist in a movie that doesn’t care about emotional plausibility constitutes a well-told story.

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