Is there a statute of limitations on being a man-child? Vince Vaughn, now 43, his brow wrinkled and his torso thickened with age, has his “Swingers” days far behind him. Yet in “Delivery Man,” he plays an eternal adolescent unprepared for adult responsibilities, shocked to learn that a long-ago stint as a sperm donor has made him the unwitting father of some 500 full-grown offspring.
The introductory shot of his slob apartment, littered with toy soldiers, overdue bills and paper airplanes, could be amusing if it belonged to a younger man. But for a man in middle age, whose hairline is in full retreat, it’s just sad.
“Delivery Man,” a comedy in theory, is a remake of a sweet French-Canadian feature titled “Starbuck,” with the charm lost in translation. The low-key appeal of the original is replaced here by aggressive mugging, a rinky-dink “funny” score, fake uplift and an overall air of feeble banality.
Vaughn’s character, Dave Wozniak, is a truck driver for his family’s wholesale meat company. But he’s really the same immature bachelor he played in “The Internship” and “The Watch” and pretty much all the rest of his films. I think he actually wears the identical wardrobe of old T-shirts and zip-up hoodies in every role.
Cobie Smulders plays Vaughn’s love interest, whom he has impregnated the old-fashioned way. She rightly sees little potential in this schlub and wants to raise the child solo.
Dave promises to become a worthy parent. He learns the basics of the job through fly-by interactions with some of his many kids. He’s able to do this unrecognized because confidentiality agreements keep his identity as a fertility clinic contributor under wraps, a secret status many of his children are challenging in a class-action suit.
His best friend and semi-competent attorney Chris Pratt defends his anonymity, practicing his big summation speech at home in suit coat and undershorts. By the standards of “Delivery Man,” this is a knee-slapping laugh.
Overnight Dave becomes an inspiring father figure — the brood’s self-proclaimed “guardian angel” — with advice and hugs for every kid he encounters. So healing is his influence that he turns one daughter from a heroin addict to a clean, perky career gal in a blink. Those are some powerful hugs. Cue the montage of bonding breakthroughs.
Writer/director Ken Scott is responsible for both the agreeable original “Starbuck” and this watered-down do-over. One can only wonder what loss of creative control was imposed on him for this opportunity to play in the big leagues. Let’s hope it was worth dishonoring the memory of his own film. There’s a lot more artificial here than the insemination.