DIRECTOR: Ken Scott
CAST: Vince Vaughn, Chris Pratt, Cobie Smulders, Andrzej Blumenfeld, Simon Delaney, Dave Patten, Adam Chanler-Berat
CLASSIFICATION: 7-9PG LP
RUNNING TIME: 104 minutes
It seems like only eight months ago I was reviewing Starbuck, a charming little feel-good film by Ken Scott based on the true story of a sperm donor who wakes up to discover he has fathered 533 adorable kids.
And now, here I am again, a mere 238 days later (but who’s counting?), reviewing Delivery Man, a charming little feel-good film by Ken Scott based on the true story of a sperm donor who wakes up to discover he has fathered 533 adorable kids.
The plot is set in motion when the sperm donor learns that 142 of his offspring have filed a class-action lawsuit seeking to lift his veil of anonymity.
What’s the difference between the two films? Other than that Scott – yes, remaking his own perfectly good French-Canadian movie in English – has replaced actor Patrick Huard with Vaughn, not much.
Starbuck was a funny and warm-hearted trifle. So is Delivery Man. If anything, Delivery Man boasts a more clever and less confusing title. Starbuck took its name not from the coffee company, but from the pseudonym used by sperm donor David Wozniak (Huard/Vaughn) – an obscure inside joke referencing the name of a famously fertile Holstein bull.
There are some other minor changes. All of the soccer references in the first movie, which is set in Quebec, have been changed to basketball references in the new film, set in Brooklyn.
And Pratt, who plays David’s genially incompetent lawyer, Brett, is a bit funnier than Antoine Bertrand, who played the part in the first film. That’s nice, because Vaughn is actually a teensy bit less lovable than Huard. Let’s call it a draw.
Not that Vaughn is miscast. He nails David’s Peter Pan syndrome, for one thing, but is equally fine at evoking the character’s unexpected paternalism.
David becomes surprisingly protective after he starts stalking some of the kids, all of whom are in their late teens and early 20s.
Chanler-Berat shines as Viggo, a “Starbuck” progeny who discovers his biological father’s identity early on but protects David’s anonymity so he can have him all to himself. In the process, David also discovers that it takes more than sperm to be a dad.
And that, after all, is what Delivery Man is about: not just children searching for a father, but a father searching for the meaning of the term itself. It’s especially lovely to see David interact, silently, with his profoundly disabled son. The wordless performance by Sebastien Rene, who played that character in both movies, is a guaranteed tearjerker.
One other weird thing hasn’t changed: the only major female characters are David’s pregnant girlfriend (Smulders) and one of his daughters (Britt Robertson).
David’s mother? Deceased. The wives of Brett and David’s two brothers (Bobby Moynihan and Simon Delaney)? They’re never seen or heard from. Nor are the 533 women who actually used David’s sperm and who gave birth to and raised his children.
For Scott, motherhood seems a less critical component of parenting, at least from a narrative standpoint. I get it. Turnabout is fair play. So many movies treat fathers as invisible, expendable or irrelevant. It’s only to be expected for a movie to come along that does the same thing with mothers.
Yet all this does is to place Delivery Man, despite its roots in a true story, squarely in the realm of male fantasy. – Washington Post
If you liked Starbuck you will like this.