Nothing's going right for Vince Vaughn these days. Since his career zenith from 2003 to 2006, when he starred in Old School, Dodgeball, Anchorman, Wedding Crashers and The Break-Up, the affable giant has coasted on the strength of his own likability, choosing projects that allowed him to banter instead of choosing ones that forced him to banter well.
So kudos to him for at least trying something different with Delivery Man, a remake of the 2011 French-Canadian film Starbuck (Ken Scott directed both versions). He plays David Wozniak, a lazy loser deep in debt who finds out that he unwittingly fathered 533 children under the sperm bank pseudonym "Starbuck." The kids band together to learn the identity of their father, but David can't bring himself to reveal his identity.
Instead, he becomes a guardian angel for each and every one of them.
What could have been an ingenious comedy instead becomes a repetitive mush of atta-boys and "tough life decision-making." David saves one daughter from a drug overdose -- and that's just his first trick. During one four-minute montage, David improves the lives of about 50 of his offspring with back-slaps and words of encouragement, and yet not one of these seemingly smart kids (one of them wears a fedora, so yeah, they're smart) even considers that David could be the legendary Starbuck.
The only tension in the movie is the "will he/won't he" decision derived from David's dangerous mob debt, which feels like a conflict that's there more for convenience's sake than anything else. Chris Pratt's slovenly lawyer character isn't written funny enough for him (though he does have cute moments with his kids), but Polish veteran Andrzej Blumenfeld is solid as David's thoughtful father.
Vaughn, a six-foot five-inch doughy motor-mouth, isn't a classic Hollywood leading man -- but his distinctive look, character and style make him so appealing as one. Delivery Man is more drama than comedy (and the "comedy" parts aren't particularly funny) yet Vaughn doesn't seem out-of-place. He's working towards his second wind as an actor. This isn't it yet, though.
Rated PG-13 for thematic elements, sexual content, some drug material, brief violence and language.
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