Film Review: Delivery Man

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Plot: When David (Vince Vaughn), a slacker meat truck driver in debt finds out he has 533 kids after anonymously donating at a fertility clinic back in the early nineties, the kids file a lawsuit demanding to know his true identity. At the chagrin of his lawyer (Chris Pratt), David starts meeting them one by one, but doesn’t reveal who he is.

There’s nothing I hate more then a poorly made dramedy. It’s not an easy genre to pull off. While Delivery Man isn’t horrible, it’s a tonally confused film that isn’t funny when it’s supposed to be, and passably dramatic when it needs to be. The worst sin a dramedy can commit though is when it tries to be both at the same time, and this happens in spades throughout the very forgettable Delivery Man.

There are so many scenes in this movie that come off as awkward, pointless, and just down right confusing. So Chris Pratt’s character Brett has four kids. They constantly annoy and ignore him, so why not have a “hilarious” scene where he talks about abortion with David right in front of his kids. That will be funny. If this type of scene was written well, then I guess it could work, but the dialogue is so bad, it just makes you feel uncomfortable. This is supposed to be funny? Speaking of Brett, we get a scene later in the movie where he almost exposes his anonymous client, and he has to cover it up with a lame unfunny excuse. Then in the next scene he talks about it with David, and it gets all serious. Wait, I’m confused? Am I suppose to feel bad for Brett? I thought this was just a throw away joke? This type of bad writing is present all throughout the film.

The most egregious example of “we don’t know what emotion to get across” syndrome happens after David meets one of his daughters (Britt Robertson) for the first time. She almost overdoses on drugs, and David has to decide whether to send her to rehab, or sign a lease so she can go home. It’s a totally serious situation, but they play it up for laughs with David walking back and forth between the daughter and hospital administrator not knowing what to do, while a gimmicky generic score plays in the background. It’s just completely inconsistent filmmaking. The constant genre hopping is the single worst part of the movie.

Vince Vaughn is an actor who’s struggling right now, and in watching this performance, he’s in a no win situation. If he talks too fast, people will say, “Oh, he’s just talking fast again. I’m so sick of that.” But if he slows down, you’ll get the “why isn’t he talking fast” complaints. You can tell from the very first scene, he’s making a huge effort not to talk fast. While he isn’t bad, the film could have greatly benefited from a vintage Vaughn performance. Vaughn’s character is severely underwritten, and even though this is one of his most unfunny performances, he was still likable. It was hard for me to all out hate this movie as Vaughn makes it really easy to root for his character. He’s still a talented guy, but just isn’t getting good scripts right now.

Chris Pratt has become a bit of a darling lately, and one of those guys you see in practically every movie. He does a good job here, elevating absolutely atrocious material. If there was another actor in place of Pratt, this character had potential to be really detestable, but Pratt nails it. I’m a little worried about Pratt getting over exposed, but I’m excited to see him in more films. These are the only two characters of note. Cobie Smulders is completely wasted as David’s girlfriend, a handful of David’s 533 kids get more screen time and subplots then others, but those performances are totally forgettable. There’s also David’s two brothers (Simon Delaney and Bobby Moynihan), and his dad, played by Andrzej Blumenfeld. These relationships are completely paint by numbers and formulaic, no funny or compelling dialogue whatsoever.

When the film isn’t focused on David and Brett, or David and his kids, it’s cluttered with clunky storylines. There’s this whole David is in debt plot that is beyond flimsy. There’s one sequence where David is getting assaulted in his apartment by…debt collectors? The mob? Seriously, what the hell is this? The movie just completely sweeps this under the rug.

To the film’s credit though, I did feel an emotional connection to Vaughn’s everyman trying to form a bond with all these kids, so it’s not a total loss. The movie just has no clue what genre it wants to be, and I didn’t get one good laugh other then maybe a couple chuckles courtesy of Chris Pratt.

This is simply just a lazy script that feels like it was written by an 8th grader who’s barely holding down a C average in English class. The laziness of the script isn’t surprising though as Ken Scott who co-wrote and directed this, also helmed Starbuck, which Delivery Man is a remake of. That film came out in 2011. So the same guy wrote and directed his own remake two years later? Wow…I wish I could be paid for doing the exact same thing. Maybe Ken Scott saw The Hangover Part II and said, “Hey, I can do that!”

Rating: 5 out of 10 (Barely Passable Entertainment)

Daniel Cohen is the hard-boiled Film Editor for the Pop Break. Besides reviews, Daniel writes box office predictions, Gotham reviews and Oscar coverage. He can also be found on the Breakcast. If Daniel was sprayed by Scarecrow's fear toxin, it would be watching Transformers: Revenge of the Fallen on a non-stop loop.

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