Gather round children, and I’ll tell you of a time when it seemed like Vince Vaughn was cool. A time when you’d see that Vince Vaughn was in a movie and you’d be intrigued. Not necessarily excited, but interested. But that was a long time ago, back when you were but a glint in your pappy’s eye and the young people were deeply invested in a swing dancing craze. It was a different world, and the world we have today is one where the lumbering form of Vince Vaughn appears on screens every year or so to scare little children and remind us all of our mortality and the dangers of bloating.
He’s back again in Delivery Man, a movie about a guy who donated a whole lot of sperm a long time ago (so long ago that it was during the time when people actually wanted to see Vince Vaughn movies) and, through a mistake in screenwriting, all of his sperm got used, leaving him with 500 children (that is not a comedic exaggeration on my part). He discovers his brood later in life, when he’s a total fuck up at age 45 (he delivers meat for his father’s butcher shop, thus one of the entendres of the movie’s forgettable title); at first he wants nothing to do with them but then eventually he learns a lesson and changes and becomes a good man and oh Christ please no more.
I wish the movie was worse, because it would have been more fun to watch. As it stands, Delivery Man is a plodding bore, a movie that thinks it’s sweet and moving and funny and yet is never any of those things, not even for a moment. I’m an easy lay when it comes to cheap jokes and I clocked in absolutely zero laughs while watching the film. All of the emotional stuff is eye-rollingly obvious and schlocky, marbled with fatty sentiment like one of the hocks of meat Vaughn never manages to deliver (he’s a fuck up, you see. Until he learns his lessons).
Wait, I lied. I laughed once. There’s this sequence where Vaughn begins investigating all these kids he sired, to see who they are. He does it secretly, so they don’t know who he is (they’re suing him. I believe this motion picture’s legal plotline might be on shaky ground), and he is delighted to discover that one is a Knicks player, one is a talented musician, one is an up and coming actor, etc. But then he begins to meet the kids who are screwed up, and the movie equates a daughter who ODs on heroin with a son who is profoundly mentally handicapped and a kid who is gay. There’s a gay son in the ‘broken children’ montage! I laughed a lot at that, and also because the gay son is, of course, a total tramp, running around town making out with many, many boys in the course of one afternoon.
There are a lot of problems with Delivery Man. The movie is based on a French-Canadian film called Starbuck (that’s the fake name the main character of both films gives when donating sperm), and the director of that movie, Ken Scott, wrote and directed this version. It’s basically the exact same film, and the boredom Scott must have felt making the same movie twice is palpable. You can all but hear him yawning back at video village in half the shots of the movie. You’d think that making the same movie twice would give you an opportunity to tighten it up, to make it better, but Scott has no time for that.
The other problem is that Vince Vaughn just isn’t likable anymore. His thing always was that he was smarmy and yet, against all odds, likable. He’s lost that piece of it, and now he’s just smarmy and kind of irritating; he has the vibe of a guy who is going to corner you at a party and try to sell you something and then, when you won’t buy it, ask you to lend him some money. Forget that I don’t buy Vaughn learning a lesson, I don’t care that he’s learning a lesson.
Perhaps the most interesting part of Delivery Man (other than the handicapped kid, who gets shuffled out of the movie halfway through) is at the very end, when Vaughn gives an impassioned speech to his on/off girlfriend Cobie Smulders, who has just birthed his latest child. She is wary of having Vaughn’s character (I can’t even be bothered to look his name up) as the father to this baby, and you sort of feel her. But in this speech Vaughn goes on about how nobody gets to decide if he’s the father of this child… except him. I would think a geneticist might have a say in this, as well as the mother and even, at a certain age, the child, but that’s beside the point - this is a Men’s Rights point of view, a vision of the world where paternity is the most important thing ever and something that is constantly under fire. If only Delivery Man committed more to this odious point of view I’d have something to write about.
Delivery Man is a lot like the sperm that sets its plot in motion: it’s mostly white, moves with a viscous sluggishness and is made up largely of glucose. You also would rather not get it in your eyes.