Film review: Delivery man (12A, 104 min)

Delivery a little lost in translation

Thursday, 9th January 2014, 6:00 am
Chris Pratt and Vince Vaughn  in the Delivery Man
Chris Pratt and Vince Vaughn in the Delivery Man

When Hollywood remakes a critically acclaimed foreign film the original director, more often than not, stands by as their work is re-interpreted beyond recognition by another filmmaker.

Occasionally though, the same creative force takes the helm for both versions.

In 1993 Dutch director George Sluizer adapted his 1988 thriller Spoorloos for English-speaking audiences and delivered The Vanishing starring Kiefer Sutherland and Sandra Bullock.

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Japanese director Takashi Shimizu cast Sarah Michelle Gellar in a reworking of his supernatural horror Ju-on: The Grudge while Oscar-winning Austrian director Michael Haneke revisited Funny Games with Michael Pitt and Brady Corbet as psychopathic youths who wreak havoc during a home invasion.

Two years ago French-Canadian Ken Scott charmed critics and audiences alike with his bittersweet comedy Starbuck, and he remains in the director’s chair for this brasher remake, which transplants the action from Montreal to the mean streets of Manhattan.

In most respects Delivery Man is the twin of its predecessor, repeating some scenes virtually word for word in an effort to recreate the winning formula.

Vince Vaughn plays David Wozniak, a delivery driver for the family meat business run by his Polish father, Mikolaj (Andrzej Blumenfeld).

Deep in debt, he repeatedly lets down his brothers Victor (Simon Delaney) and Aleksy (Bobby Moynihan), as well as his girlfriend Emma (Cobie Smulders), who is expecting their first child.

Out of the blue David hears that donations to a sperm bank in his student days resulted in 533 children. Of those, 142 have launched a class action to force the fertility clinic to reveal the identity of a man they know as Starbuck.

David turns to lawyer pal Brett (Chris Pratt) to keep the records sealed, but then complicates matters by visiting some of his children, including busker Adam (Dave Patten), aspiring actor Josh (Jack Reynor) and down on her luck salesgirl Kristen (Britt Robertson).

Delivery Man is a touching second helping that remains true to the heartfelt intentions of the original. Vaughn is likeable throughout but there’s a lack of on-screen chemistry with Smulders.

Pratt is hysterical as a single father stumbling through legal loopholes while Patten, Robertson, Reynor and co deliver spirited performances as youngsters searching for the man who gave them life.

“It may be a bit strange and a bit oversized, but it’s my life,” David says towards the end of the film. He can add haphazard and slightly mawkish to that fair summation.

Comedy/Drama/Romance. Vince Vaughn, Chris Pratt, Cobie Smulders, Andrzej Blumenfeld, Simon Delaney, Bobby Moynihan, Dave Patten, Britt Robertson, Jack Reynor, Adam Chanler-Berat. Director: Ken Scott.