FILM: Delivery Man (12A)

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

Friday, 10th January 2014, 4:00 pm
Delivery Man.
Delivery Man.

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

In 1993, Dutch director George Sluizer adapted his gripping 1988 thriller Spoorloos for American audiences and delivered The Vanishing starring Kiefer Sutherland and Sandra Bullock.

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 the psychopathic youths, who wreak havoc during a home invasion.

Delivery Man.

Two years ago, French-Canadian filmmaker Ken Scott charmed critics and audiences with his bittersweet comedy Starbuck. 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 other respects, Delivery Man is the identical twin of its predecessor, repeating scenes virtually word for word in an effort to recreate the winning formula.

A romantic subplot feels underpowered second time around but does thankfully find leading man Vince Vaughn in restrained form. He plays David Wozniak, a delivery truck driver for the family meat business run by his Polish immigrant father, Mikolaj (Andrzej Blumenfeld).

David is deep in debt and 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 learns that frequent donations to a sperm bank in his student days have resulted in 533 children. Of those, 142 have launched a class action to force the fertility clinic to reveal the identity of the man they know as Starbuck.

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

“I could be their guardian angel,” David tells Brett forlornly.

Delivery Man is a surprisingly touching second helping that remains true to the heartfelt intentions of the original film.

Vaughn is likeable throughout but there’s a lack of on-screen chemistry with Smulders so the emotional waters of their relationship never break.

Pratt is hysterical as a single father stumbling blindly 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 comments towards the end of the film.

He can add haphazard and slightly mawkish to that fair summation.


Released: January 10 (UK & Ireland), 104 mins