There was a time when Vaughn could glide into a movie and rip it up, either as comic blabbermouth or edgily unpredictable straight actor.
He still talks a lot in movies, but like Nicolas Cage, he's let go of the scary originality and been absorbed by a tame industry that burps out the likes of "Fred Claus" and "The Dilemma."
Case in point: "Delivery Man," a comedy of the heartwarming variety, in which Vaughn labors hard to etch a few signature moments around a far-fetched sitcom plot.
Said plot comes from writer-director Ken Scott, remaking his 2011 French-Canadian film "Starbuck." Vaughn plays an irresponsible schlub, David Wozniak, who drives the truck for his family's butcher shop.
Somehow (this part remains fuzzy and forced throughout the story) David has gotten 80 grand in debt with some loansharks; his distant past is about to catch up with him, too. In his 20s, he was a frequent donor at a fertility clinic, and now 142 or so of his biological offspring are suing the clinic to find out the identity of the donor.
This set-up is rife with easy solutions to the central problem, all of which are ignored as David enlists his buddy (funny Chris Pratt, a Lake Stevens native) as his legal representative and tries to keep his estranged and pregnant girlfriend (Cobie Smulders, from "How I Met Your Mother") from learning the truth about his potency.
The movie's failure to ignite is especially annoying because it blithely ignores the authentic issues involved with uncertain parentage while pretending to address them. Yeesh.
Vaughn is a natural fit for the manchild character, and he's an established master at the art of conversational backpedaling. He has at least one classic line delivery -- "Congratulations, darling" -- which comes at the end of a long pause and is delivered in a superbly Vaughnian deadpan.
And there's the irony of "Delivery Man": Vince Vaughn actually is a guy who can deliver, as "Swingers" spectacularly proved at the beginning of his career. Gus Van Sant was not wrong to cast Vaughn in the remake of "Psycho," either.
Let's get that dangerous person loose again.
"Delivery Man" (2 stars)
A tepid remake of a 2011 French-Canadian film, "Starbuck," retooled only slightly as a vehicle for Vince Vaughn. And the actor does get a few laughs, but the storyline is forced; he plays an irresponsible schlub whose youthful donations to a fertility clinic are now coming back to haunt him. With Chris Pratt and Cobie Smulders.
Rated: PG-13 for subject matter, language.
Showing: Alderwood Mall, Cinebarre, Everett Stadium, Galaxy Monroe, Marysville, Stanwood, Pacific Place, Woodinville, Cascade Mall, Oak Harbor.
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