On a list of pointless remakes over the last year you’d probably be hard pressed to top the likes of Let Me In and Carrie. However with original director Ken Scott transporting his Montreal-set tale Starbuck just a little further south in New York for an English-speaking audience, surely Delivery Man tops the lot.
Perhaps it doesn’t help either that he’s cast Vince Vaughn in the lead, himself no stranger to an unwelcome re-working thanks to Gus Van Sant’s 1998 Psycho remake. A little more balanced here, Vaughn plays David Wozniak who, on discovering his sperm donation has led to over 500 offspring who’re keen to discover his identity, must decide whether to reveal himself and face the paternal consequences.
So while Starbuck was a genuinely touching and surprisingly warm-hearted little gem it’s no surprise that this near shot-for-shot remake is actually so as well.
It doesn’t hurt that Chris Pratt makes for a good go-to buddy as Dave’s best friend and lawyer or that Marvel’s Cobie Smulders engages as his on/off girlfriend and – key to the storyline – mother of his first naturally conceived child. The scenes between each pair add enough warmth, heart and humour to keep things moving along nicely.
Central to the plot though is David’s trawl through the profiles and identities of those who are seeking his; stepping in as some kind of good Samaritan in their lives to come out the other end as a less-selfish and more generous everyman. While some of those provide some comic relief (an early coffee shop encounter among the highlights) others involving drug addiction and disability add enough edge to stop this from becoming schmaltzy fare.
Given that Vaughn’s cinematic output has been varied to say the least in the last decade (let’s hope Dodgeball 2 remedies that) it’s refreshing that he’s on form here and well-suited to the character played so well by Patrick Huard in the original. Let’s hope the frat-boy antics take a back seat from now on and these warmer roles take a more prominent driving seat.