November 21, 2013

the delivery man vince vaughn

When possible, I like to prepare for movies by reading or watching the source material because they can provide a better understanding of their adaptation or remake.  On Monday night, I watched Ken Scott’s Starbuck on Netflix Instant.  It was pleasant and undemanding.  The following night, I went to go see the remake, Delivery Man (also directed by Scott), and discovered I had seen almost the exact same movie in less than 24 hours.  The original didn’t warrant a second viewing, and yet there I was, watching it again except this time it was in English and had actors I’d seen in other movies.  It was one of the most pointless moviegoing experiences I’ve ever had.

David Wozniak (Vince Vaughn) is a bland guy (we’re told he’s nice but “inoffensive” would be a more accurate description) who can’t get his act together.  He owes bad people $80,000, he’s the black sheep of his family, his pregnant girlfriend Emma (Cobie Smulders) doesn’t want him in her life, and he can’t even manage something as simple as delivering his basketball team’s jerseys.  Then he gets a bombshell when he learns the sperm he donated twenty years ago was used to father 533 children and 142 of them are suing to find out his identity.  Against the advice of his friend and lawyer, Brett (Chris Pratt), David begins anonymously helping out his biological children and becoming a more mature individual as a result.


I have also just related to you the plot of Starbuck with the following exceptions: Emma and Brett are called Valérie (Julie LeBreton) and Avocat (Antoine Bertrand), respectively, and David fails to delivery soccer jerseys instead of basketball jerseys.  It’s not uncommon for remakes to share plot points with the original movie, but Delivery Man clings to the original for dear life.  There is not a moment in Delivery Man that isn’t in Starbuck.  The dialogue has been passed through a translator, and new actors are playing the parts, and not as well as their French-Canadian counterparts.

Smulders and Pratt are both comically gifted actors, and neither one can figure out what to do with their roles.  Emma is less interesting than Valérie because LeBreton brought some fire and anger to the role where Smulders seems tired and beleaguered.  Bertrand conveys just enough sleaze and cynicism playing David’s friend and lawyer, but Pratt is too adorable and endearing to play the scold.  And as for Vaughn, his attempt at a restrained performance makes it look like he’s sleepwalking through the role.  In Psycho, Vaughn at least tried to bring something new to the Norman Bates role (although it was a fool’s errand trying to step out of the shadow of Anthony Perkins‘ iconic performance), but in Delivery Man he’s dryly reciting the same lines but wearing better t-shirts (like this sold-out Threadless one).


The problem extends beyond the actors because it really comes back to Scott.  He isn’t directing the movie.  He’s repackaged it.  The dialogue and the jokes aren’t just the same.  Scott even reuses some of the same shots.  Perhaps he could have used Delivery Man as a rare opportunity to say, “What if I had made my movie another way?” but it seems like he’s scared of contradicting himself.  To change anything would raise the question, “Did you do it wrong the first time?”  Rather than let a new vision stand for itself, Scott gives into the worst desires of America’s laziest viewers.  He’s not serving an artistic vision; he’s serving people who don’t like to read subtitles or watch unfamiliar actors.

One could make the argument that Starbuck didn’t reach enough people and Delivery Man is an opportunity to bring the story to a wider audience.  This would be excusable if Starbuck was hard to track down and the story was on the other side of some vast cultural divide.  But it’s available on multiple VOD services and it’s from freaking Canada.  Remakes of easily accessible foreign films are always a bummer, but none of those remakes are as scared and hollow as Delivery Man.


I used to think that all art has a right to exist. Delivery Man made me realize there’s a limit.  Scott hasn’t reimagined or provided a new angle on Starbuck.  He’s created a replica designed to be palatable on the most superficial level.  Delivery Man is a movie designed for people who would find a light comedy enjoyable if only it weren’t in a foreign language with foreign actors.  That may be a reason to exist.  It’s just not a good one.

Rating: F


  • Hari

    The review of the film should have been about the merits of the film. Not exclusively a comparison of the new version to the original. If Goldberg hadn’t seen the original, this “F” grade wouldn’t have been given. Most viewers have not seen the original, and want to know if the film is enjoyable or worthy. The review doesn’t help with that at all.

    But giving an “F” garners attention… which is pretty much all Goldberg’s reviews are ever going for.

    • Matt Goldberg

      Films don’t exist in a vacuum. Also, this isn’t Consumer Reports.

      • Guest

        What an asshole, your the reason for the comment and you still condescend. Unbelievable.

      • Sweet Pea

        Neither of your responses address Hari’s very valid point, this isn’t a review of Delivery Man, it’s a review of how a remake compares to the original… And what a shocker, it’s strikingly similar! Your responses aren’t even witty or sharp either. A wannabe funny man who can’t even make himself seem quick witted with time to think about it before responding.

      • Guest

        You are a cunt, Matt

    • Fiz

      I think Collider needs to post a review of Starbuck, so we can learn whether Delivery Man is actually any good.

    • RiddleThemThis

      I see your point, but at the same time you can say the same thing about remakes in general. Sure, if the original “Movie X” didn’t exist people would think the new one is better, but the problem is that it does exist.

  • Daniel Ronczkowski

    I don’t remember the last time I laughed at a vince vaughn movie.
    I recently saw Clay Pigeons for the first time and I LOVED his performance, It is of my opinion that he should do a staight up drama or two.

    • JBug

      He did thriller in Domestic Disturbance, but I can’t remember if it was good or not. I saw it a long time ago.

    • Clay

      Not to mention the Psycho remake.

      • Giovanni Luis Jiminez

        The Cell

  • junierizzle

    If it’s the same movie than shouldn’t it be okay as well? Why the F?

    I think your approach about wanting to know more about a film before hand is inherently robbing you of genuine surprise. Especially if we are talking about a remake. Why would you watch the original the night before you were going to see the remake? That makes absolutely no sense to me. It would be different if you saw the original when it was first released, and now are watching the remake.

    I want to also talk about distinguishing between the movie and it’s source material. The two are pretty much mutually exclusive. A movie is it’s own thing and one shouldn’t have to read up on the source material to fill in blanks. Those blanks were left out for a reason. Myself, for example has chosen not to watch the original Old Boy. I always meant to watch it but I decided not to when it was announced Spike Lee would be doing the remake. I’d rather watch the “new” Spike Lee movie than the original. I want to go in fresh.

    • Lex Walker

      I can understand not wanting to watch the original Oldboy to maybe keep the film’s twist a surprise, but how can you know if you’d “rather” watch a remake than the original if you’ve seen neither? How can you really have a preference at all unless you’re discounting the original for being in a foreign language? Your logic doesn’t really make sense, but since it’s just how you want to do it I guess it doesn’t have to. You really should watch the original Oldboy first though, it’s excellent, and it’d be a shame for the remake to sour you to the story if it happens to be another Spike Lee misfire. Isn’t it better to start with the film people can assure you is well done rather than the remake which has as good a chance as not of being horrible?

      • junierizzle

        My logic makes perfect sense. Spike Lee is one of my favorite directors and I always look forward to his stuff. I see your point and it still applies to me in this situation. You say the remake might “sour” the story for me. The reverse is also true here. I don’t want the original–as good as it might be–to “sour” Lee’s “new” movie for me. Like I said I always wanted to watch it but the remake came up. If it were a director that I wasn’t a fan of then I would certainly watch the original over the remake. But that is not the case and I am willing to take the risk.

  • Kronos

    It’s almost as if the target audience is people who haven’t seen the original film… Imagine that…

    • Nemesis11

      nailed it

  • Jay

    You mean this remake…is a remake? Sweet crap, someone call the press!

  • JBug

    Matt, can you review Hook?

  • elizer

    what an insane review, only comparing the remake to the original. so for anyone that hasn’t seen the original film (which is most people) this review is completely useless.

  • Stefan Bonomo

    Okay, so if I’ve seen Starbuck and I see this film, it is as pointless as the remake to Psycho.
    But what if I haven’t seen Starbuck and want to see this? You said Starbuck is good, so that means this must be good.
    And, what if I saw Starbuck after this, would Starbuck now be the unnecissary film?

  • winston16s

    Well, I do not agree on how you based this review. Let the Right One In and Let Me In were the same exact movie, literally shot for shot (minus a few added elements in the American version). Both of these movies were fantastic, but had their own merits. Had the American version really sucked, then sure, one could say “it’s not as good as the original”, but the thing is, they are two separate movies. Different directors and actors. The average Joe (who is dumb enough to see this movie) would have no idea about it’s “history”, so it’s one thing if you want to mention it is a remake or talk about how it differs, but in reality, you cannot grade a movie depending on how the original one was. It’s like comparing a movie to the book; pointless.

    That being said, I haven’t seen either of these movies. I wouldn’t spend one cent to see Vince Vaughn in a movie nowadays. Anyone who sees this is an idiot.

  • Joseph M

    I wonder if Vince Vaughn ever gets sick of the fact that he’s the same character in every film he appears in. He’s the male equivalent of Jennifer Aniston.

    • themoviedoc

      So The Break-Up had a good casting?

  • RiddleThemThis

    It’s odd that if a review compares the remake of total recall to the original people are okay with it, but if its a foreign language film that gets remade its all of a sudden a bad thing to compare it with the original.