The surprisingly warm and funny Delivery Man shows us Vince Vaughn can actually act.
Among my favorite performances of Actor Vince Vaughn's is 1996's Swingers - his portrayal of the party animal Trent introduced an entire culture obsessed with swing music and partying, as if the Roaring 20's had been suddenly resurrected. That was a long time ago, and what might have been a dynamic career has seen Vaughn pigeonholed into simple comedies, where his silly loser status overwhelms any dramatic acumen he once had. I'm not saying I want to see him read Shakespeare, but it's too bad he hasn't extended his wings a bit. Thankfully, his newest dramedy Delivery Man actually shows a side of Vaughn we haven't seen in awhile, and that's good news for us.
The underachiever David (Vaughn) can't seem to get his life together, running deeply in debt and frustrating his family and girlfriend Emma (Cobie Smulders). She sees potential under his ratty t-shirts and playboy smile; but soon even she has to cut ties with him, but not before telling him that she's pregnant. Soon, more bad news falls into David's lap, when an attorney from a sperm bank David 'frequented' tells him that he's fathered 533 children, 142 of which have filed a lawsuit demanding to know their father's identity. David turns to his best friend and washed-out attorney Brett (Chris Pratt) for legal and personal help, who warns him to stay away from the kids. Of course, David doesn't listen and soon begins to help them. Coming off as a kind of guardian angel, David soon finds solace in the acts, eventually hanging out at giant barbecues with all of them, while the legal battle to maintain David's identity rages in the courts.
Director/Writer Ken Scott just doesn't let Vaughn be Vaughn, something that plagued him and Owen Wilson in The Internship, as the two seemed to ad-lib their way through a script that could have been so much better. Instead, Scott keeps this penchant for rambling to a minimum, focusing Vaughn and others on the well-written script. It also helps that Scott's screenplay actually features so many likable characters, including the kids and Vaughn himself. While David is a loser and a horrible decision maker, he does have everyone's interests at heart, demonstrating his love for his new children in sometimes bizarre ways. Scott doesn't overdo the emotion here, striking a nice balance between David's dark past and a hopeful future, while allowing Vaughn and Pratt a few hilarious moments. Smulders is servicable here, as are David's family. We could imagine almost anyone assuming those roles, which does somewhat diminish the movie's effect. But, the comedy's never too silly and the drama never too gushy to derail things; by film's end, we've seen real growth in both David and Brett, who throws in a terrific sexual faux paw that kept the audience laughing for awhile.
We can't believe we're admitting this, but Delivery Man is one of Vaughn's best non-troupe comedies in awhile. He and Pratt have good chemistry, and Ken Scott keeps things moving with a script that screams enough warmth and love to make anyone smile. On the other hand, Smulders and the supporting cast are flat and interchangeable, so decide if this is enough to keep you away. With so many good Fall movies out there, this one might get forgotten pretty quick. But if a decent comedy is in your blood, see Delivery Man in a matinee - you'll look like a king i suggesting it, and that massages our egos just enough. Delivery Man is rated PG-13 for sexual content, some drug material, brief violence and language and has a runtime of 103 minutes.
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