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Wednesday, Nov. 27, 2013 12:01 am

Man fails to deliver

 

I was sucked in by the advertisements for Delivery Man. This comedy about a man who, through the negligence of a sperm bank, finds out that he’s the biological father of over 500 children appeared to be a sweet, heartfelt comedy that would warm the cockles of my heart (I looked up “cockles” after writing this. It means “heart-shaped shell,” but I digress ….). However, I am sad to report that my cockles remain cold, much like its title character. This film continually let me down, despite the fact that by all appearances, it would be an entertainment I could depend upon to lift my spirits. Alas, duped again.

Vince Vaughn is David, a man-child still firmly stuck in his teenage years, living alone in his ratty apartment that’s cluttered with old toys, autographed baseballs, stacks of unpaid parking tickets and unrealized potential. The only reason he has a job is because he works for the family business and the only reason he has a girlfriend as beautiful and mature as Emma (a wasted Cobie Smulders) is that writer/director Ken Scott thinks his audience is dumb enough to believe that a woman like this would hang out with a loser like David.

Despite being advised by his equally daft lawyer and best friend Brett (Chris Pratt) not to contact any of his offspring, who are suing the sperm bank in order to discover the identity of their father, this wingnut decides to randomly choose one of the 142 profiles of his children who are involved in this class action suit and track them down, being careful never to reveal his identity. The first child he meets is a member of the New York Knicks. This fills him with displaced pride so David chooses another profile and helps another son of his get an acting gig. And so it goes – he becomes a stalker of the daddy variety and affords himself the pleasure of swooping in like a guardian angel to help these young men and women through trying times in their lives.

I don’t have a problem with the premise – though I do question how David’s sperm, though classified as “high-end,” is able to produce so many kids – but I do have a problem with the main character. Our “hero” is nothing more than a deadbeat dad, the sort who’s never around to change diapers, discipline the kids or help with mundane household chores but shows up when his kids are getting an award, playing in a baseball game or doing a good deed so that he can bask in their glory and proclaim himself as the proud papa. David has not invested in his children so his feelings of pride are not earned and his responses to their successes are self-centered. He is witnessing these events not to support these kids but to stoke his own ego. Bad enough that Delivery’s plot is needlessly complicated, takes the easy way out again and again by offering simple solutions to complex problems, moves far too slowly and fails to develop important subplots, but asking us to sympathize with an immature loser is just too much to ask.

Contact Chuck Koplinski at ckoplinski@usd116.org.

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