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Article by Teddy Durgin

Delivery Man Ultimately Delivers... Just Not a Lot of Laughs

You would think that a movie with Vince Vaughn starring as a man who made over 600 deposits to a sperm bank in the early 1990s that ended up fathering 533 children, 142 of whom now want to meet him, would be one of the funniest movies of the year. At the same time, Vaughn is threatened with worldwide exposure when the media gets a hold of the story; is labeled across social networks as "The Masturbateur" (so much for another possible title of Durgin's eventual autobiography); and, to top it off, he gets his girlfriend (Cobie Smulders) pregnant "for real." This should all be hilarious, right? This is like Jack Tripper hijinks times 1,000, yes? Eh, no not really. "Delivery Man" goes for more of a touchy-feely, feely-goody story. Its best parts are actually its dramatic moments involving young people legitimately searching for a parent to complete their identities. Some of the supporting turns by the fresh faces -- most notably Adam Chanler-Berat as the one offspring who actually finds Vaughn out and Britt Robertson as a damaged young woman who really needs a father figure -- are very affecting. But I can't help thinking this flick should have been absolutely hilarious. It's based on another film called "Starbuck," and it definitely took its dramatic cues from that original screenplay. And while there are definitely funny bits throughout, the filmmakers can't seem to get past the dramatic implications of their story set-up to go for the bigger laughs that I think audiences are going to be wanting out of this. You know a comedy is lacking when Jay Leno in a cameo gets the best line! But, ultimately, that's OK. The film works in the moment, and I enjoyed my time with it and its characters. Vaughn's David here is being touted as a 40-something slacker in trailers and commercials. But I was pleasantly surprised that that wasn't the case. He's more a big-hearted guy who has made terrible decisions in his life, especially with regards to money and relationships. He's just not as stable as his two family-man brothers and not as ambitious as his immigrant father who has built a successful meat-packing business in Manhattan. The family dynamic they create is one of the strengths of the picture. The main reason to see "Delivery Man," though, is the very funny supporting turn by Chris Pratt as David's buddy and lawyer that he hires when the dozens and dozens of kids come a-callin'. Pratt proves he is more than ready to carry his own film, playing the disheveled dad of four who, at first, begs his friend not to ever become a parent and then tries to help him get some money out of the fertility clinic that screwed up so royally years earlier. He is thwarted at nearly every turn, though, by a client whose curiosity gets the better of him and starts meeting his various "kids." David doesn't tell them who he is. And that, of course, leads to some funny encounters such as the one where he follows one son into what he thinks is a motivational seminar in a hotel ballroom ... that ends up being a meeting of the 100+ kids who want to meet him. What doesn't work so well is some middle-act scenes in which the various offspring really should be questioning why David is the only 40-something showing up at their events. David also owes some money to some really bad guys, and "Delivery Man" comes close to skewing into some dark territory in which he and his family's lives are threatened. But director Ken Scott wisely pulls back from that thread and actually resolves it before it can become too much of an off-tune distraction. "Delivery Man" ultimately does deliver. It's as schmaltzy as "The Best Man Holiday." Sigh. 'Tis the season, dear readers.

"Delivery Man" is rated PG-13 for thematic elements, sexual content, some brief violence, drug material, and language.

 

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