Oftentimes movies contain kernels of great ideas that for one reason or another get waylaid or misused due to the filmmakers’ different objectives for their projects. Ken Scott’s Delivery Man is one such film: a promising dramedy with terrific elements and with some great payoffs but which stubbornly refuses to fire on all cylinders. There are laughs to be had and tears to be shed in this story of a man pushing middle age finally growing up and accepting some responsibility, but it’s only approaching the greatness it might have achieved with a different focus.
Distributed By: N/A
Video Resolution and Encode: 1080P/AVC
Aspect Ratio: 2.40:1
Audio: English 5.1 DTS-HDMA, Spanish 5.1 DD, French 5.1 DD
Subtitles: English SDH, Spanish, French
Run Time: 1 Hr. 45 Min.
Package Includes: Blu-raykeep case
Disc Type: BD50 (dual layer)
Release Date: 03/25/2014
David Wozniak (Vince Vaughn) has a plate full of problems: he owes the mob $80,000, he has a pregnant girl friend (Cobie Smulders), he’s by far the worst worker in his family’s meat business, and he learns that his frequent sperm donations in the early 1990s have resulted in 533 children, 142 of whom are actively seeking the disclosure of their real father’s identity. Though his identity is being protected by the sperm bank due to non-disclosure agreements he dutifully signed back in the day, he’s still very curious as to what kind of children he has spawned, so after receiving an envelope filled with the identities of his children, he begins selecting information sheets randomly and then going to see these children anonymously.Director-writer Ken Scott based this script on his original screenplay Starbuck which he had already made into a French-Canadian film some years ago. The central idea of the anonymous father going to see and casually getting to know his offspring is quite a lovely premise for a film with each of the children’s stories veering between exciting (a pro basketball player) and dramatic (a barista who wants to be an actor; a troubled young salesgirl struggling with drug addiction) to heartrending (an autistic lad). Scott provides fun-filled montages with his interactions with some of the other children (a lifeguard at an indoor pool, a street musician, a tour guide) and later on a picnic with the entire group of them, all of which make for interesting and involving viewing. It grows in involvement when we learn that these 142 young people have joined a Starbuck collective (“Starbuck” was the anonymous name David used for his sperm donations) with regular meetings to discuss what can be done about learning the identity of this unknown donor and bonding over their common goal even though it’s curious that there is no mention at all of the mothers (or families) of these children as if they’re all orphans. The $80,000 debt David owes comes and goes in the scenario as it’s needed to spur on the plot, but there doesn’t appear to be the kind of desperation such a debt would logically incur constantly burning within him (and he certainly seems to have money whenever he needs it to carry on his day-to-day existence). The film balances on two central decisions that David must make: (1) to reveal himself to his children, and (2) to reveal to girl friend Emma that the child she’s carrying isn’t the only child he has produced. Despite the film’s best efforts, these aren’t really the difficult decisions they’re made out to be, and the film’s most entertaining moments involve his getting to know some of the great kids who though brought up by others want to be a part of his life and which, in the end, gives the movie its big emotional payoff.Vince Vaughn is getting a little long in the tooth now to continue to play this kind of irresponsible man-child. His interactions with the kids are genuinely involving and often touching even when the kids are eccentric (a vegetarian Viggo played by Adam Chanler-Berat vexes him playfully), and he can carry on the dry comic byplay with the best of them. Chris Pratt as his best friend Brett has some hilarious early scenes with his four children, none of whom listen to a thing he says and who actively defy him to his amusing poker-faced consternation. Andrzej Blumenfeld is very moving as David’s tolerant-to-the-breaking point father, and Dave Patten, Adam Chanler-Berat, Britt Robertson, Jack Reynor, and Sebastien Rene all excel as the sensitive children curious to know the identity of their unknown father. Cobie Smulders is basically wasted as the policewoman/girl friend, but her character’s down-to-earth professionalism makes an attractive counterpoint to Vaughn’s doltish slacker.
The Production Rating: 3.5/5
The theatrical 2.40:1 aspect ratio has been faithfully retained in this 1080p transfer using the AVC codec. Apart from some momentary aliasing in some tight line structures, this is a pristine image with excellent sharpness, outstanding color control, and consistently maintained contrast resulting in pleasing, believable flesh tones. Black levels are fine throughout. The film has been divided into 18 chapters.
Video Rating: 4.5/5 3D Rating: NA
The DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1 sound mix is more than adequate to the task though ambiance of New York City is not exactly plentiful. There are occasional split surround effects, and Jon Brion’s background music and a succession of song hits get nice forward and rear placements. There’s a bit of directionalized dialogue though most of the well-recorded speech has been placed in the center channel.
Audio Rating: 4/5
Building Family (15:43, HD): the EPK featurette for the film presents director Ken Scott, producer Andre Rouleau, and stars Vince Vaughn, Chris Pratt, Cobie Smulders, and several of the more prominent young actors who play the children and who discuss the bonding that took place during the shoot.Vince Vaughn: Off the Cuff (4:33, HD): outtakes are shown of three different scenes where improviser Vince Vaughn was allowed to go off script and riff thoughts, some of which found their way into the finished film.Bloopers (4:35, HD): shown in montage and occasionally introduced by the actors.Deleted Scene (1:36, HD)Promo Trailers (HD): Need for Speed, Thor: The Lost World.
Special Features Rating: 3/5
Delivery Man is an entertaining if not quite first-rate comedy-drama with laughs and tears for the adults in the family. The Blu-ray offers excellent picture and very good sound with a smattering of bonus features to complete the package.
Overall Rating: 3.5/5
Reviewed By: Matt Hough
Support HTF when you buy this title: