There's high concept. And then there's high conception.
Delivery Man is a high-concept comedy about exactly that: a guy who donated sperm anonymously to a fertility clinic in his stoned-out, cash-starved youth, and who now, decades on, discovers he's the biological dad to a horde. He has 533 children. And 143 of them have filed suit in an effort to find out who their progenitor is.
A somewhat less-snappy redo of Starbuck, a charming French-Canadian farce released here this year, Delivery Man stars Vince Vaughn in the titular role. It's a play on words, because Vaughn's David Wozniak is genetically responsible for this massive brood, of course, and because he drives a truck for his father's butcher shop. He's not very good at the latter, or at much else - his girlfriend, Emma (Cobie Smulders), is losing patience with his flaky, noncommittal ways.
Delivery Man was directed by Ken Scott, who also directed Starbuck (not a reference to Moby Dick or coffee, but to a famously prolific Canadian bull), and who relocates the action to Brooklyn, but who has otherwise left most of the plot twists and cornball sentiments intact. What happens is this: As news of the lawsuit hits the tabloids and TV, David has to decide whether to fight for his anonymity or give it up.
His goofy buddy Brett (Chris Pratt), a sleep-deprived single parent and lawyer of dubious merit, takes the case - and hands David a stack of files revealing who his offspring are. Curious, David skulks and stalks and sidles up to these young men and women, a roster that includes an NBA star, a junkie, a street musician, a lifeguard, an aspiring actor, a seriously disabled guy. David does good deeds, offers good counsel, and realizes he's not such a hapless shlub after all.
Now, if only he could convice Emma, who happens to be, um, pregnant. Impotence is not one of David's problems.
Vaughn does his Vaughn thing, pursing his lips and popping his eyes, but mostly shambling from one scene to the next, effortlessly, but hardly electric. Delivery Man, with its democratic band of half-siblings and its feel-good view of humankind, is what it is: a reproductive remake that will make you laugh. More than once or twice.
*** (Out of four stars)
Directed by Ken Scott. With Vince Vaughn, Chris Pratt, and Cobie Smulders. Distributed by Touchstone/Walt Disney Pictures.
Running time: 1 hour, 43 mins.
Parent’s guide: PG-13 (sex, profanity, drugs, adult themes)
Playing at: area theaters