Monday, November 25, 2013

An Olympic Sized Gene Pool

Year: 2013
Director: Ken Scott
Cast: Vince Vaughn, Chris Pratt, Cobie Smulders
Run Time: 1 hour 43 minutes
MPAA Rating: PG-13

On a whim last night, my friend Henry and I caught a late night showing of the new Vince Vaughn comedy Delivery Man. It was cheap and we had nothing else to do so we figured why not. The state of cinema this year is so dreary that this was our best option behind seeing Catching Fire again.

Much to my surprise, the film was actually pretty decent! I know, right? It's by no means the best comedy of the year (that title goes to Texas Chainsaw 3D), but I actually laughed - something I wasn't expecting at all.

Then again this guy was in it.

David Wozniak (Vince Vaughn) is a schlubby everyman (an interesting change of pace for him) who learns that through a clerical mistake at a sperm bank that he donated to in his 20's, he is the father of 533 children, many of which want to contact him but can't due to the company's anonymity clause.

With a pregnant girlfriend of his own (Emma, played by How I Met Your Mother's Cobie Smulders) and a life he needs to get back on track - he's a meat deliveryman who isn't particularly good at his job and also hey, he has $80,000 in gambling debts - he's understandably a little skittish about taking responsibility for hundreds of his offspring.

But when his lawyer friend Brett (Chris Pratt), who is defending him under his pseudonym "Starbuck," gives him the profiles of the children who are filing the lawsuit, his curiosity is piqued and he begins to visit his children without letting them know he's their biological father. Basically he acts as a guardian angel, helping them out when they need it without revealing his identity because that's a lot of pressure, man.

Also Aunt Robin is a cop, which is just too sexy to handle.

The opening scenes are, to be honest, an unmitigated train wreck. Jokes are bashed into the ground and beaten senseless like they pissed off the LAPD. As this was exactly what I was expecting, I was lulled into a false sense of superiority before the sweetness infiltrated the film and turned it into a charming if fumbling effort.

The moment the film makes its turning point is during David's first child visitation - it turns out one of his many little goblins is now in the NBA and he cheers that boy on like the proudest father this side of Harvard. It's perhaps not sweet enough or funny enough to really recommend, but it's definitely worth catching it on Netflix when it inevitably shows up on Streaming.

There are some laugh out loud moments, but the film mostly simmers in a charming register, content not to push the envelope but merely be pleasant.

Family dinners are more like a mosh pit than anything else.

Directed by Ken Scott, the director of the original French Canadian film, Starbuck, Delivery Man is by all accounts a watered down interpretation of its themes. However, it was good enough that watching it made me more interested in seeing Starbuck, so it at least does it enough justice to make it more enticing.

And then inexplicably, sh*t gets real. David bonds with a mentally handicapped son, one of his daughters overdoses on heroin, and the gambling bosses stop by to give David a quick drowning in the bathtub. In a sweet family comedy. What just happened? The gambling subplot is especially intriguing because it spends so much time on the sidelines that it comes as a shock anytime it returns.

Some real quick SPOILERS, if you care about such for Vince Vaughn family comedies. The momentous announcement in which David decides to admit to his paternity, the crux of the entire film in which he's learning to put his life together and take responsibility, the apex of the thematic through line of the entire film, the moment the entire film has been leading up to, takes place on Facebook. He tells the kids he's their father on Facebook. Talk about anticlimactic. If you want to see my angry face, pop this scene on, you will be appeased. SPOILERS

But Aunt Robin.

Postscipt: I would have spent a lot of time making fun of how so many of Vince Vaughn's kids turned out to be sexy beasts with sparkling blue eyes but I was too busy Googling shirtless photos of them. 

Say, that gives me an idea!

(NEW FEATURE! Every film I review now will be scanned by the Stud Finder to find the hottest person onscreen so we can all partake in the handsomest of the handsome. You know, to help build community. Or whatever.)

Stud Finder: David's Biological Children (Dave Patten, Jack Reynor, Amos Vanderpoel, Matthew Daddario)

Don't you dare try to tell me a single one of these kids could in any way be biologically related to Mr. Vaughn.

TL;DR: Delivery Man is more charming than it possibly seemed it could have been.
Rating: 6/10
Word Count: 855

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