After years of playing out-of-control, loudmouthed boobs, Ken Scott’s Delivery Man claims to introduce us to a more mature Vince Vaughn. Where was he in my screening? For most of the film, Vaughn’s hapless David Wozniak is so incompetent, aimless, debt-ridden, and lacking in anything approaching good judgment that you want to drive his beautiful NYPD girlfriend, Emma (Cobie Smulders), straight to a Codependents Anonymous meeting. Oh, sure, David has a heart of gold and he would never hurt a fly, but it’s easy to see why Emma is worried about how her boyfriend is going to cope with her unexpected pregnancy.

It gets worse: What Emma doesn’t know is that a few decades earlier, David found a pretty easy way to make some much-needed cash. He was a frequent donor at his local sperm bank, using the code name “Starbuck.” No biggie, right? Except that because his sperm was of such a high quality (really?), the facility ended up giving it to ALL of their clients that year. David had no idea, of course, until a lawyer arrives at his apartment to tell him that he is the biological father of — get ready for it — 533 children. The lawyer also reveals that a bunch of them are in the process of suing the sperm bank to force them to disclose the identity of their bio-dad, despite the confidentiality agreements David signed before every donation. Holy patrimony!

David’s best buddy, Brett (Chris Pratt), a lawyer of questionable status, agrees to counter-sue on David’s behalf to try to protect his privacy and steer clear of his unexpected progeny. But Wozniak can’t resist peeking into the thick envelope of information sheets filled out by his children for the lawsuit. He arranges “accidental” meetings with a bunch of them, keeping his identity a secret. Will the irresponsible Vaughn develop a new outlook on what really matters in life? Will he come to have feelings for the multiple fruits of his loin?

Delivery-Man-PosterDelivery Man is a remake of Ken Scott’s own 2011 French Canadian film Starbuck. I enjoyed that film very much and talked to Scott and actor Patrick Huard who played David Wozniak when the film was released here last spring. Scott was already  shooting the remake and I asked him what it was like to make the same film in another language and with a big budget and star. “It’s been a bit bizarre,” he admitted. “The only thing I can compare it to is putting on a wet bathing suit. At first you’re like, ‘Whoa, that feels very weird!’ But then it warms up and it’s okay.’” The usual concern regarding studio remakes of  foreign films is that the original will get completely lost in translation. The odd thing about Delivery Man is that it’s almost a shot-by-shot remake. So little was changed from the original script that you almost want to say, “Why bother?” I know the answer, of course — Starbuck ended up making only $340,000 in its limited release in this country while Delivery Man will surely bring in millions.

I’m not saying people should stay away, either. The film has its share of funny moments as well as moving ones. To be honest, the biggest issue I had with Delivery Man is one that I also had after seeing Starbuck — and that is the story’s tacit message about fatherhood. I can think of plenty of reasons why these products of artificial insemination would be interested in finding out the identity of their sperm donor, but that’s just what he is: their sperm donor, NOT their father. However these kids grew up — with a mom and dad, two moms, two dads or with a single parent — aren’t those folks their “real” parents? The biological connection may not be there, but haven’t we learned by now that parenthood is about more than DNA? It bothered me that Delivery Man never once touched on this issue or mentioned any of the people who raised this petulant group of twentysomethings — you’d almost think every member of Vaughn’s brood grew up in a Dickensian orphanage. If I were an adoptive parent out for a fun movie night with my kids, I can imagine feeling increasingly uncomfortable from the underlying messages in this film.

Am I overthinking it? Perhaps, and the actors do their best to create an engaging story. In addition to the likable Vaughn, Pratt, and Smulders, Andrzej Blumenfeld, Simon Delaney, and SNL’s Bobby Moynihan are good as Wozniak’s meat-packing father and brothers, and the diverse group of actors who play Vaughn’s offspring are, for the most part, appealing. But in trying to create a heartfelt story about the importance of family, I fear that Delivery Man’s skewed message fails to deliver.