The toughest challenge for any actor is to play against type.
Vince Vaughn, in keeping with his imposing physicality, is usually cast in roles that are big, brash and loud. But even while lumbering around like a bull in a china shop, he has always given the impression that deep down there is a softie wanting to get out (notably in The Internship and The Dilemma).
I like him, and I loved this movie – Delivery Man.
Another of its contrary aspects is that, apart from Emma (Cobie Smulders), David’s love interest, there are no women in principal parts, which is virtually unheard of in a touchy-feely comedy.
David has brothers but no sister, his father (Andrzej Blumenfeld) is widowed and his lawyer Brett (Chris Pratt) appears to be bringing up four kids on his own (the mother is neither seen nor spoken of).
Writer/director Ken Scott’s film, if unexceptional in execution – the structure is formal, the imagery textbook – is engaging emotionally and intellectually because it strikes at our core human urge to know who we are. It is also original, a trait as rare as hens’ teeth.
A delivery driver for the family’s New York deli and in serious debt to the Russian mob, David learns that his sperm donations from twenty years earlier have produced 533 offspring, and that 149 of those children whom he has never met are going to court demanding to learn the identity of their biological father.
Wishing to protect the anonymity that he signed up for, David is aghast and matters are made more complicated for him when Emma announces that she is pregnant.
It’s a rare conundrum in cinema that does not allow the viewer to easily determine which side is right, to allocate and share the high moral ground with one character over another.
The script is occasionally contrived, but Paul’s journey to self-realisation is everyman’s and Scott deserves the highest praise for having him meet a son who is severely handicapped without pushing the episode into cheap mawkishness.
~ John Campbell