DeliveryMancoverGrade: B-/C+
Entire family: No
2013, 105 min., Color
DreamWorks/Touchstone
Rated PG-13 for thematic elements, sexual content, some drug material, brief violence and language
Aspect ratio: 2.40:1
Featured audio: DTS-HD MA 5.1
Bonus features: C
Trailer

Now is a good time to remind readers that this site is devoted to TV shows and films that are rated PG-13, PG, or G—and amazingly, this Vince Vaughn comedy qualifies.

You’d expect a film about an underachiever who learns that some 600 “donations” he made to a sperm bank 20 years ago produced 533 children, 142 of which have filed a class-action lawsuit to learn his identity, would go the direction of R-rated raunchy comedies. But with Delivery Man, writer-director Ken Scott gives us a surprisingly sweet PG-13 film that has some language, some drug content, and brief violence, with Vaughn playing a nice guy with a darned good reason for doing what he did 20 years ago.

If you have children in sixth grade or older who aren’t being home schooled, I hate to say it but they’re already familiar with how babies are made, and they know what sperm is. What’s more, they probably won’t even ask about the “banking” aspect, because this isn’t the kind of movie that’s driven by logic. Heck, the premise itself is beyond belief, just as it’s hard to swallow that our hapless hero would be dogged by loan sharks in the first act and then ignored for basically the rest of the movie, or that this man who works as a meat truck deliveryman for the family business could just take off work every day to try to find out more about the children he’s fathered. 

But when he’s given an envelope containing profiles of those 142 children of his, he can’t resist following up . . . especially since his girlfriend has recently gotten pregnant and isn’t sure she wants him to be involved, because he’s just not father material. So it’s more than curiosity for him. He has something to prove, both to her and to himself. And, as it turns out, to those kids. Some of them are in trouble. Others he gets in trouble. One is an NBA basketball player; another is confined to a wheelchair. As he builds whatever makeshift relationships he can while keeping his identity secret, the focus of the film is on those children and the concept of fatherhood—not on logic.

DeliveryManscreenIf you think about it, none of it makes much sense. How is it possible for one man to create that many “donations” over the course of only a few months? Why is his girlfriend with him in the first place, if he’s so immature? And why would it be up to the sperm donor to hire a lawyer (Chris Pratt) to defend his right to privacy? Wouldn’t that be the responsibility of the clinic? As our Delivery Man inserts himself into the lives of a handful of his adult children, why do they so readily accept this stranger into their lives, not knowing, as we do, that he’s their father?

So many things about Delivery Man don’t make sense that it’s almost a surprise that this lightweight, warm-hearted comedy is still entertaining.  Maybe it’s a nice break seeing Vaughn as a vulnerable, quiet guy rather than the brash, overly confident, fast-talking fellow we normally see him play on the big screen. Maybe it’s because writer-director Scott—who retooled his 2011 Canadian comedy Starbuck to fit Vaughn and sidekick Pratt—could direct this in his sleep, since there are very few changes other than the cast and setting.

Whatever the reason, Delivery Man is a little like the main character:  just good enough to make you smile a little, and care a lot. Or maybe it’s the other way around. All I know is that you watch realizing that it’s not a great film but still appreciating Vaughn’s character and the efforts he makes to connect with children he’s meeting for the first time. And you don’t bother to question the logic. That’s why many parents will actually be okay with their children watching this one. Given the subject matter, it’s relatively and surprisingly innocent.

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