Run From This “Delivery Man”
Delivery Man, the newest comedy starring Vince Vaughn, commits the greatest of comedy crimes: It isn’t funny. Not in the least. During the showing I attended, you could literally hear a pin drop for stretches as long as fifteen minutes. I smiled a few times, but I don’t know that I ever actually laughed.
Vaughn plays David, a man-child who seems unable to find a way to grow up and become a responsible adult. He has hit his career glass ceiling attempting to deliver meat for the family business. (You’ll be rolling in the aisles when you see him get three parking tickets in a single day. Not one! Three!) In his 20s, under the pseudonym “Starbuck”, David made hundreds of donations to a sperm bank, and due to a mix-up within the clinic, he has managed to father 533 children. Now, twenty years later, 142 of those children have filed a petition to set aside David’s anonymity agreement with the clinic so they can learn the true identity of their biological father.
To complicate matters further (and make them more clichéd), David learns that his girlfriend, Emma (Cobie Smulders) is pregnant with their child. She doesn’t think that he’s up to the challenges of fatherhood and intends to rear their child as a single parent. But, like it or not, David is about to become the father of his 534th child, and he’s still a child himself.
While David wrestles with the decision to reveal his true identity to his offspring and his family, he decides to get to know a few of them by dropping in on their lives and helping them in some way. He becomes their “guardian angel” helping them with their careers and giving them relationship advice, all under the guise of being their new friend. Meanwhile, Brett (Chris Pratt), an attorney pal of David’s, fights the children’s petition in court to buy David time to decide how he’s going to deal with this dilemma.
The premise sounds promising, but nothing comedic or dramatic develops in Delivery Man. The potential for a mistaken-identity farce involving David’s surreptitious interaction with dozens of his children is completely ignored. The problem with the film is not that numerous attempts at humor fall flat. It’s simply that no real attempts at humor are ever made. Instead, we get sappy montage sequences where David stands at a distance and beams like a cherub at the successes of his unclaimed brood. These schmaltzy sentimental moments are intended to pluck at your heartstrings. Instead, they play like an hour-long scroll through cute puppy pictures on Facebook. These moments are so contrived and sappy sweet that you can almost feel your teeth rotting.
The shelf life on Vince Vaughn’s ability to play the schlub who can’t seem to become an adult has reached its end. He’s going to need to find a new schtick for the remainder of his career because no one wants to see a 50-year-old frat boy hanging out with the cool kids instead of going to work. It’s a lot like watching Jim Parsons play Sheldon Cooper on this seventh season of The Big Bang Theory. At some point, sitting around in comic book t-shirts, having a platonic relationship with your girlfriend and being unable to relate to your friends ceases to be funny and eccentric and starts to make you look like a serial killer.
I couldn’t help but feel sympathy for Chris Pratt and Cobie Smulders, two stars who show their comedy chops each week on Parks & Recreation and How I Met Your Mother, respectively. Pratt’s wisecracks about rearing four kids by himself are the only laughs in the entire film. Girlfriends in these movies are required to be disapproving or pregnant, thus forcing the schlub character to grow up. In this instance, Smulders gets to be disapproving and pregnant for the ten minutes she’s on screen.
In a world of so much available content, the avid moviegoer will never be able to see everything he or she wants to see. As major studios and independent filmmakers crank out dozens of new releases each week, there simply aren’t enough hours in the day or enough years in a lifetime to see everything that merits your attention. Use the time you might spend renting Delivery Man or watching it on HBO a year from now and see something else. You don’t have to see this film to believe how bad it is. Take my word for it.
The term “paycheck movie” has become ubiquitous in the film industry. When it comes to Delivery Man, Vaughn probably laughed all the way to the bank. Unfortunately, those are the only laughs to be found here.
The Movie Isle
Scott Phillips holds a degree in print journalism from the University of Georgia and is currently a member of the Georgia Film Critics Association (GAFCA). In addition to his role as a correspondent for Timed Edition, Scott serves as the Executive Editor and Senior Writer for themovieisle.com. From 2013 through 2017, he reviewed films for filmdispenser.com. Along with his duties as a critic, Scott serves as the Content Programmer for the Way Down Film Festival held in Columbus, Georgia every fall.