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Saturday, June 14, 2014

Monthly Movie Review - Delivery Man

 Once again, Vince Vaughn stole my heart with his latest flick, Delivery Man. Several years ago, I publicly confessed I had never been a fan of his until he won me over in The Dilemma. I am convinced he is a genius of an actor who has more than comedy up his acting sleeve. I wouldn’t be surprised if we see him in character dramas as he matures—just a prediction. And in addition to his acting chops, he is a great screenwriter (The Internship).

Delivery Man is another one of those movies that I breezed past on the Redbox list, thinking it was nothing but banal froth. The subject matter is a little dicey for Christians, but it does make for an interesting storyline. Basically, it is about a down-and-out delivery man, David (Vaughn), who works for his father’s NY deli, struggling to pay off his debts to the local loan shark. He can’t seem to do anything right, including deliver the deli meat on time or fulfill his commitment to his pregnant girlfriend, Emma (Cobie Smulders), who is convinced he will make a horrible father. Just when things can’t seem to get any worse, David is visited by a representative from a sperm bank who informs him that his generous donations years ago were inadvertently used to father over five hundred children! And as can only happen in Hollywood, 150 of those children wish to legally set aside a confidentiality agreement to discover his identity. Wow! Call that a crisis!

At first, David shuns the idea of being found out but eventually warms to the idea of discovering who his “kids” are. This is where the hilarity begins. Ignoring the warnings from his attorney friend, Brett (Chris Pratt), David gives in to the temptation to peek inside a mysterious manila envelope that reveals the identity of his biological children. As is every father’s dream, the first kid is an NBA basketball star which sends David and Brett straight to a basketball game to cheer on his son. Thinking this newfound fatherhood might be fun, David pulls out another sheet from the envelope and discovers that life as a parent isn’t always as glorious as basking in the glow of a celebrity child. Some of the children are hooked on drugs, some struggling to jump start a career, some struggling with bullying and abandonment, and others just wanting to be loved.

Soon, David papers his living room wall with the identities of all of his kids and sets out to be a father to them. Shirking his responsibilities at the deli and time with Emma, he spends all of his free time playing a superhero father-figure. For example, he rescues one daughter from a drug overdose, stands in for a son’s coffee shop shift so that he can attend an acting audition, encourages another son who is a street musician struggling to make ends meet—and my favorite—attends his nerd son’s boring tour guides of historical sites. Oh, and one more—loves on a lonely son who lives in an institution due to mental and physical challenges. While Emma and his family are convinced David is an irresponsible loser, these 150 young people are being blessed with the loving kindness of stranger who they do not realize is their biological father.

The drama increases when the kids come together and launch a high-profile court hearing to pressure the sperm bank to reveal David’s true identity. David employs Brett as his attorney who vows to help keep his name a secret, referring to him as “Starbuck.” But by then, David’s love for his kids has taken hold of his heart, and he can’t resist being a part of their lives. He surreptitiously attends one of their group meetings and has to do some serious Vince Vaughn tap dancing to explain how and why he knows so many of them. Nobody puts two and two together until a conversation between David and Brett is overheard by one of the sons, and the cat is out of the bag. From this point on, David does his best to keep his identity a secret for as long as possible, which only makes him appear more irresponsible to Emma and his family. The story builds to a climax between the loan sharks demanding their money, the world discovering the true identity of Starbuck, and Emma giving birth to their baby. It was all very well done!

** SPOILER ALERT **

There were a couple of very tender scenes I’d like to mention. First, there was a very heart-felt conversation between Emma and David early on in the pregnancy, where he convinces her to NOT have an abortion. Even though they got pregnant out of wedlock, a great case was made to bask in the joy of life with a child instead of succumbing to the fear of being a bad parent. Also, there was a nice dinner table scene where Emma learns from David’s family that David is a hopeless romantic, and then finally a very touching scene with his father toward the end of the movie. In this scene, David learns that his dad used his life savings to pay off the loan sharks and his dad learns that David is actually Starbuck. It was very moving—repentance and forgiveness on both sides and an acknowledgement from David’s father that David isn't a loser, that his efforts to be a good father have touched countless lives and that people love him. A real clincher of a scene! Isn’t that the most wonderful thing any of us would want for our children – that wherever they go in life, they treat others with love and, in turn, are loved?

Even though Delivery Man is a secular film, it does a very good job of showing (not preaching) the importance of being a present and loving father, despite the impracticality of such a notion. And it effectively advocates and promotes marriage and family. While the setting and circumstances are somewhat far-fetched and messy, they are more true to life and relatable to the world than the squeaky clean stories that are common in Christian films. I was very impressed and applaud the filmmakers for an excellent movie! Make sure you see this one and share it with others!

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