David Wozniak is an underachieving meat delivery man, who’s going green inside of his apartment and evading hit men seeking him to pay his $80,000 in debt. His best friend is a hapless father and out-of-practice lawyer, his family doesn’t trust him to pick up the shop’s rec league jerseys, and his pregnant girlfriend wants him to be a probationary dad. In “Delivery Man,” David just found out that he indirectly fathered more than 500 kids through anonymous donations to a fertility clinic, in his 20s, under the pseudonym Starbuck and, now, 142 of them want to meet their biological father.
Does this sound like a stretched out Vince Vaughn comedy? It is. Only, this isn’t a new experiment from writer and director Ken Scott, who adapted his three-year-old New Zealand film, “Starbuck,” which is the same movie without the popular comedian lead. However, Vaughn doesn’t do enough to Scott’s Starbuck 2.0 to make it any better of a film. Even the bright addition of Chris Pratt as the hapless lawyer goes mostly unheralded. Scott’s “Starbuck” (2011) was better received.
Against his better judgement, Wozniak dives into a thick manila envelop filled with profiles of his biological children. Like a rabbit out of a hat, the first name he pulls is that of a New York Knicks basketball player and from that point on Starbuck can’t stop stalking his children, some of which include a drug addict, barista, grocer, street musician and lifeguard. Not all of them can be rich and famous, which becomes no more clear than when David meets Ryan, a boy in a wheelchair.
Scott’s script, like its older brother in New Zealand, is filled with holes. The envelope of profiles is merely an unrealistic device. It wouldn’t exist nor would a lawyer provide him with it and suggest he not open it. Scott wants Wozniak to come off as a do-gooder, but it’s hard to ignore that he’s stalking these people and he’s really good at it too. He follows one straight into a meeting of Starbuck Children, where the hundred of them meet to discuss furthering the lawsuit to strip Wozniak of his anonymity. Scott makes interesting choices though. One of the kids, Viggo, follows David home from the meeting and forces his way into a squatter situation, showing how handcuffed Wozniak is by the situation. It’s also an interesting story choice to protect the law. Chris Pratt’s Brett, the lawyer, argues for the anonymity clause and wins, earning David a pretty $200K. Only later does David decide to admit who he is, indirectly through the Starbuck Children’s Facebook group.
Like many of Vaughn’s films, it gets huge laughs early but limps to the finish. “Delivery Man” is a solid Vaughn comedy. There’s a bundle of funny moments, but Vaughn struggles to fill up the scenes during which he isn’t stumbling off of a bike. That’s to be expect because that’s his track record. The film isn’t his best or worst, it’s in the middle. He gets help from Pratt, who only gets more adorable the more kids we find out he has. Emma, played by Cobie Smulders, isn’t doing anyone any favors. She comes off as dull as usual. Scott cut away the comedy too early and “Delivery Man” drags on through uninteresting hospital drama and reunion.
“Delivery Man”: ★★