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Stale Vince Vaughn fires blanks in ‘Delivery Man’

While not as abhorrent as the objectively dreadful Couples Retreat, Four Christmases, or The Watch, Delivery Man is by no means a return to the Vince Vaughn we once thought was money.

Delivery Man
Rating: PG-13
Running time: 105 min.
Stars: Vince Vaughn, Cobie Smulders

In Delivery Man, Vaughn plays David, a man in utter disarray.

He owes $80,000 to some very bad people after making some awful investments. He’s been dodging his pregnant girlfriend (played by Cobie Smulders). He’s unmotivated at work (a family-owned meat shop), and to pay off the debt, he’s decided to grow and sell high-octane cannabis from his Brooklyn home.

Oh, and as of a couple days ago, David (Vince Vaughn) has been informed that he’s the biological father to 533 children, 142 of whom are filing a lawsuit to reveal his identity.

How did this happen?

Twenty years ago, under the alias “Starbuck” (which also happens to be the title of the 2011 Canadian film this is adapted from) he anonymously donated large quantities of sperm to a fertility clinic – one that decided (without his permission or knowledge) to use an unprecedented amount of his incredibly healthy and effective sperm.

The aging affable slacker is left with two choices. He can either reveal his identity to a group of Millennials who grew up without knowing who their true father was, or he can file a lawsuit against the clinic for jeopardizing his anonymity.

Delivery Man offers a mixture of both. Before making a decision David decides to assume the role of guardian angel.

This entails David scampering around New York City aiding his kids – who range from an NBA basketball player to a heroin junkie to a lifeguard to a barista/aspiring actor – in any way he can.

To the fatherless adults David is merely a kind and helpful stranger graciously getting them out of predicaments.

For the first time in his life, David believes he’s doing the right thing. There’s something admirable about a man who sincerely wishes to finally contribute joy to the world.

And for a short period of time, watching David traverse the city and perform random acts of kindness is pleasant. Altruism is so rarely seen in reality that watching it unfold on the silver screen puts a smile on your face.

Unfortunately, the smiles subside once Vaughn’s performance grows tiring.

There’s no denying that Vaughn has created a marketable formula for himself: the likable, identifiably schlocky and juvenile middle-aged man who often acts selfishly and idiotically but deep down means well.

While that shtick worked like clockwork in Swingers, The Break-Up, Dodgeball: A True Underdog Story and Wedding Crashers, it’s become tragically archaic and enervating.

Vaughn appears to have lost all vitality here. In fact, I no longer believe him (or his character) when he delivers his customary long-winded, sentiment-dripping monologues designed to absolve him of all wrongdoings.

What were once endearing mannerisms and idiosyncrasies are now aggravating affectations. Delivery Man does not star Vince Vaughn – it stars a shell of the actor whose descended into caricature.

Occasionally the old Vaughn makes an appearance in some of the film’s highlights, which consists of David bonding with his children. These sweet sequences suggest a broken man who has never quite felt connected to anyone before.

By and large though, there’s a calamitous paucity of wit and charm — which gentle giant Vaughn once offered in spades.

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