Review: Vince Vaughn’s latest project fails to deliver big laughs

“Delivery Man”

Starring: Vince Vaughn, Chris Pratt, Cobie Smulders

Director: Ken Scott

Running Time: 104 Minutes


Let’s talk about the biggest premiere of this past weekend, “Delivery Man.”

You were probably expecting “The Hunger Games: Catching Fire” right then, but that’s small potatoes compared to this.

The premise: Vince Vaughn plays lovable loser David Wozniak who discovers that because of an error on the part of the fertility clinic he regularly donated sperm to, he has anonymously sired 533 children.

Before you make some crack about it being an autobiography of former “Swingers” star Vaughn, “Delivery Man” is a remake of “Starbuck,” a 2011 Canadian film that also received mixed reviews. And “Starbuck” was likely based on any number of real life cases in which the genetic material regularly donated by a sperm donor was used to beget an inordinate number of children.

Some examples of such cases include Kirk Maxey, father of approximately 400; Ben, a former sperm donor in the Washington, D.C., area and father of more than 70; and a group of 500 British sperm donors who collectively have fathered more than 6,000.

Having established the plausibility of such an event and taken into consideration the status of “Delivery Man” as a remake, to determine what sets it apart one ought to keep in mind the volume of documentaries, films, and television shows that address artificial insemination. So what does “Delivery Man” bring to the table?

Seeing as how it’s a remake with very few plot alterations … not a lot.

Compared to its source material, “Delivery Man” boasts the same director, producer and writers, a whole new cast led by an A-list actor, a shift in setting from Quebec to New York, a less confusing title (“Starbuck” is the sperm donor alias used by David Wozniak in both films) and all instances of soccer are replaced with basketball. In short, “Delivery Man” is an Americanized version of “Starbuck.”

This fact trivializes the remake somewhat insomuch as the ethical concerns of “Starbuck” are still present in “Delivery Man.” The questions posed by both as to whether the children of sperm donors have a right to meet their estranged fathers and whether sperm donors who have signed privacy agreements have a right to inviolable privacy in spite of the repercussions of anonymous fatherhood are still very much intact.

The hypothetical scenario proposed in “Delivery Man,” albeit one that mirrors real events, is undeniably thought-provoking. However, there is a small problem in the representation.

“Delivery Man” is essentially a coming-of-age story for a fully grown manchild who uses the realization that he is a father many times over as motivation to become a mature and responsible adult. In focusing so intently on David’s growth as a character, sufficient development of Emma, David’s pregnant girlfriend, the solitary lead female character, is substantially neglected. Though Emma and David will both be parents to a “real family,” as David puts it, the tremendous amount of work Emma completes to ready herself for the child’s arrival is not shown. Further upsetting the equality of representation is the fact that David does not inform Emma that he has fathered 533 children until after she gives birth and agrees to marry him, which completely disregards her opinion on the matter.

On a side note, in my review of “Surfing Strange” by Swearin’ in the Nov. 11 issue of the “Valley Vanguard,” I said that neither the Saginaw 12 nor the Fashion Square 10 would be dedicating a theater to airing “12 Years a Slave.” I was wrong. When I wrote the review, I was basing my claim on what films would be available according to both websites’ calendars of upcoming premieres and showtimes. “12 Years a Slave” was present on neither of the calendars, hence my assumption.

Fortunately for the viewing public though, the Saginaw 12 is currently playing “12 Years a Slave” and I would urge you to go check it out while it is still there.

This entry was posted on Monday, December 2nd, 2013 and is filed under A&E. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0 feed. Responses are currently closed, but you can trackback from your own site.

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