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Movie Review: Delivery Man

November 22, 2013

Delivery Man PosterDelivery Man – A Touchstone Pictures Release

https://www.facebook.com/DeliveryManMovie

Release Date: November 22nd, 2013

Rated PG for mature themes and language

Running time: 103 minutes

Ken Scott (dir.)

Ken Scott (screenplay)

Jon Brion (music)

Vince Vaughn as David

Chris Pratt as Brett

Cobie Smulders as Emma

Andrzej Blumenfeld as Mikolaj

Simon Delaney as Victor

Bobby Moynihan as Aleksy

Dave Patten as Adam

Adam Chanler-Berat as Viggo

Britt Robertson as Kristen

Jack Reynor as Josh

Delivery Man

©Touchstone Pictures.  All Rights Reserved.

Brett (Chris Pratt) and David Wozniak (Vince Vaughn) in Delivery Man.

Our reviews below:

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Delivery Man Review By John C.

*** (out of 4)

Back in 2011, the small Quebec film Starbuck became a surprise hit with audiences, emerging as the runner up for the People’s Choice Award at TIFF.  Now director Ken Scott has remade his own film under the name Delivery Man, updating the setting to New York but keeping all of the original charm intact.

David Wozniak (Vince Vaughn) is a well meaning employee at the butcher shop run by his father (Andrzej Blumenfeld), but he is also a constant underachiever who is struggling to pay off his escalating amounts of debt.  But things change when he finds out that his anonymous donations to a sperm bank twenty years ago resulted in the birth of 533 children, 142 of whom are suing to find out his identity.  This shocker comes after his girlfriend Emma (Cobie Smulders) breaks the news that she is pregnant.  With the help of his best friend Brett (Chris Pratt) working as his lawyer, David sets out to make a case for his privacy, but then he starts reading the profiles of his biological offspring and becoming somewhat of a guardian angel to them.

Just like in the first one, these scenes provide some of the best and most touching moments in Delivery Man, as David reaches out to his young adult children while struggling to keep his true identity a secret from them.  Although the original felt more like a festival favourite and this new edition more has the feel of a mainstream hit, both work as well told versions of the same story.  The French Canadian comedian Patrick Huard made for a likeable lead the first time around, and Vince Vaughn is equally charming as the American counterpart of this same character.  Chris Pratt also gets some good moments, slipping into his role quite nicely.

Because Starbuck worked so well as a crowdpleaser, by virtue of comparison Delivery Man also works as a bighearted and likeable dramedy, fronted by another charming performance from the perfectly cast Vince Vaughn.  The beats of the story are pretty much the same, but this means that all of the humour and heart are still intact, evoking similar reactions in both films.

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Delivery Man Review by Erin V.

*** (out of 4)

Based on the French-Canadian film Starbuck from 2011, Delivery Man is a funny and entertaining film about a man who finds out he has 533 biological children.  When David Wozniak (Vince Vaughan) was 20, he donated hundreds of times to a sperm bank in exchange for cash, and then promptly forgot about it – until now.  Turns out, due to a mix-up at the bank, they used his donation for almost every woman who came in during a period of a couple years, and now 142 of his children are suing to nullify his confidentiality agreement and find out who their father is.  Known to them only by the name ‘Starbuck,’ David enlists the help of his friend and lawyer Brett (Chris Pratt) to help him win the right to keep his anonymity.  But when he is given the profiles of the children wishing to know him, he can’t help but want to start to get to know them as well.

Delivery Man is light entertainment, and pretty much a scene-for-scene remake of the French language version.  Still, like the original, the film works.  It is funny, sweet at times, and Vince Vaughan is very likeable in the role.  Overall, Delivery Man is worth checking out, as is the original Starbuck.

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Delivery Man Review by Nicole

*** (out of 4)

Two years ago, a French-Canadian film called Starbuck came out.  Loosely inspired by a true story, the film centred around a middle age man, David Wozniak, who finds out he is the biological father of 533 kids.  I quite enjoyed Starbuck and Delivery Man, the mostly scene for scene and line for line American remake, really holds up.  Delivery Man takes place in New York, instead of Montreal, but is otherwise the same.

David (Vince Vaugn) is a meat delivery man who is struggling to make ends meet.  His life is turned upside down when he receives news that, as a result of being a sperm donor around 20 years ago, he is the father of 533 biological children.  Over 100 want to know who their birth father is, and are suing to find out his identity.  His best friend and (almost) lawyer Brett (Chris Pratt) suggests a countersuit, in order to raise David some money.  He hands David an envelope containing his children’s identities, but warns him not to open it.  He opens it anyway, deciding to discover his children one by one.  David decides not to reveal who he is, instead acting as a guardian angel to his children.

He saves Kristen (Britt Robertson) from a drug overdose, visits Ryan (Sébastien René) who has cerebral palsy and lives in a group home, helps Josh (Jack Reynor) get an acting career, and generally helps in other ways too.  But one son, Viggo (Adam Chanler-Berat), accidentally finds out that David is his birth father.  While Viggo has a some major differences from David, (Viggo is vegetarian and doesn’t like that David drives a meat truck), he still wants time with his birth dad.  Things get really complicated now.  David cares about his kids, but doesn’t know how to tell them.  And how is he supposed to tell the family he grew up with?  David hasn’t even told his girlfriend Emma (Cobie Smulders) yet, who is pregnant with his 534th child.  Can he do the right thing and bring his family together?

Delivery Man is an important film that raises many ethical questions about sperm donation.  When David donated his sperm, he never really thought about the children he would give up in closed adoptions.  Many of these children grew up wishing to know their biological father.  No amount of reproductive technologies can trump nature, and this is apparent when his paternal instinct kicks in.  Once David realizes he is a father, he quits his “gardening” project, and decides to live a clean life.

The paternal instinct factor brings up Brett’s argument for closed adoption agreements, since a biological father may otherwise try to make decisions in his birth child’s life.  But this raises an important ethical issue.  Most adoptions occur because the adoptive parents cannot, for various reasons, care for their child.  In sperm or egg donations, a biological parent could in may cases, manage to care for a child.  And, since a donor can have numerous children, many people could grow up without knowing they are siblings.

But Delivery Man is more than a film about ethics.  It is a film about family, in its various shapes and sizes.  This is where the heart lies.  Vince Vaughn and the rest of the cast bring a genuine warmth and compassion to their characters.  One gets a real sense of love, and sometimes pain, between the various and varied family members.  The one thing other than blood that does bind them together is love.

Delivery Man is a genuine, heartwarming film about love and family.  A great film to go to during the upcoming holidays.

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Delivery Man Review by Maureen

*** (out of 4)

David Wozniak (Vince Vaughn) is not very good at delivering meat.  What he can deliver is quality sperm.  Over 600 donations later, he’s father to over 500 kids and over 140 of them are filing a class action suit to have his identity revealed.

Delivery Man is an almost scene for scene remake of a popular Quebec film called Starbuck that premiered at TIFF in 2011.  I really liked Starbuck.  Fortunately, Delivery Man remains true to the original and Vince Vaughn is wonderful as the lead character David, aka Starbuck.

Around the same time that David finds out his DNA has been shared hundreds of times, he also learns that his longtime girlfriend Emma (Cobie Smulders) is pregnant.  Against the advice of his best friend and second-rate lawyer Brett (Chris Pratt), David looks through the envelope containing the profiles of the offspring filing the lawsuit.  He decides to seek out some of them, helping them out whatever way he can without them knowing who he really is.  The results are touching at times and amusing.  The offspring include a professional basketball player (Kevin Hopkins), an aspiring actor (Jack Raynor), a substance abusing young woman (Britt Robertson) and a disabled young man, Ryan (Sébastien René).

Delivery Man celebrates what it means to be a family, whether that means biological ties, adoption or circumstances that bring people together.  Sometimes that means acting as a guardian angel as David tells his lawyer and friend.  The final scene of the film is kind of a Hallmark moment, but somehow it all makes sense and feels believable.  Much of Delivery Man‘s success is thanks to Vince Vaughn who gives us a completely likeable David/Starbuck.  This is a remake that works.

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Delivery Man Review by Tony

*** (out of 4)

David Wozniak (Vince Vaughn) is the hapless but loveable Delivery Man for the Brooklyn butcher shop he shares with his two brothers and Polish immigrant widower father (Andrzej Blumenfeld) who founded the business. Seriously indebted to loan sharks and having just been told by his girlfriend (Cobie Smulders) that she is pregnant, he is informed that his over 600 contributions made twenty years prior to a sperm bank had mistakenly resulted in over 500 children.

Though his anonymity (under the pseudonym “Starbuck” after a prolific Holstein stud bull) had been assured, 142 of his young adult offspring are launching a class action suit to disclose his identity, providing him with an envelope of photos and profiles of themselves. Against the advice of his friend and near-lawyer advocate Brett (Chris Pratt), David can’t help looking out for some of the people he has sired, which ultimately enriches his life and theirs in ways they could never have imagined.

If this sounds like déjà vu, it is. Delivery Man is the American remake of the 2011 Québec hit Starbuck from the same Montreal writer/director Ken Scott. Aside from language, location, one son being a star basketball rather than soccer player, and cast (with only Sébastien René in common as the nonverbal handicapped son), the movies are pretty much interchangeable. Since Québec films are generally not well seen even in the rest of Canada let alone in the States, Delivery Man is a good way for this charming if offbeat comedy to reach a much wider audience. Vince Vaughn, like his Québec counterpart Patrick Huard, is perfectly cast in this kind of sweet working class role, and as a bonus, the veteran Polish actor Blumenfeld is very touching in his brief scenes.

By the way, Delivery Man is not the only Starbuck clone. There is a Bollywood version called Vicky Donor that (from the trailer) seems to concentrate much more on the donation end of the story. More interestingly, just three weeks ago a closer adaptation called Fonzy was released in France, directed by Isabelle Doval as a vehicle for her spouse José Garcia, who occupies a niche equivalent to Huard and Vaughn in French films. From what I can gather, much of the French audience and critics familiar with the Québec original didn’t appreciate this apparent intention to unnecessarily translate essentially the same film from the colourful if sometimes difficult to follow Québec dialect to what some French snobs still regard as “vrai [real] français.”

In summary, having seen both Starbuck (borrowed from the public library) and Delivery Man, I liked both, slightly preferring the original but the latter being a good and more accessible alternative.

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Consensus: A faithful remake of his equally charming Quebec film Starbuck, director Ken Scott’s Delivery Man is a bighearted dramedy that touches on the meaning of family, carried by a likeable performance from Vince Vaughn.  *** (Out of 4)

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