Delivery Man

Delivery Man has a premise which could either be pushed into sitcom goofiness or serious drama: it's about a man who suddenly finds out that the clinic he donated sperm to twenty years ago was over-generous in giving out his samples and now he's the biological father of over 500 children. The most obvious path to take with that set up would be to have him meet the children, each of whom would be more wacky than the next; it's a plot that naturally lends itself to wandering from skit to skit, and the excessive number of children leads itself to broad comedy.

But there's also a dark quality implicit in that premise that could be explored. Human beings have a primal fear of dying and so we have children so that part of us can live on. Here's a guy who has had a ton of children - enough children that his genetic line is basically immortal - but it would be very easy to imagine that discovering all of them would make him question his mortality, because children are very good at making you realize how old you are. Furthermore, realizing that he's been a part of so many lives indirectly would naturally cause him to wonder what all he's missed out on in life. Of course we pass people on the street every day that we never think about again, but here's a man who would suddenly realize that he's been passing people everyday that he could have (or should have) had a real connection to.

Delivery Man doesn't really go into either of those paths. Instead, it turns into a courtroom drama where a little over a hundred of his kids sue the clinic to find out his identity. It's an inexplicable plot development in a lot of ways. The lawsuit is inexplicable from a logical perspective - there's absolutely no way that he is personally liable for the clinic's mismanagement, and the kid's lawyers would have to know that the laws protecting his right to privacy are fairly well established. (He lived up to his side of his contract with the clinic even if they didn't live up to theirs.) Even worse, it's an inexplicable choice from a story telling perspective because it pushes the movie towards being a legal drama instead of a broad comedy or a character study. Pushing the story into a courtroom undercuts the two things it could be doing well in favor of something it manifestly isn't capable of doing well.

This movie set up some scales, and on the one tray were five hundred children and on the opposing tray was one man. If the script had tilted towards the five hundred children it would have had to tilt towards the absurd; the connection between them all is too incredible to be taken too seriously. If the script had tilted towards the dad, it would have logically tipped towards being existential; he just discovered how ignorant he was about the world he lived in, and surely that would have real consequences on how he looked at life. But instead of revealing which of those scales was heavier than the other, Delivery Man switches topics entirely to ask a legal question that isn't even a question. Still, I suppose I should count my blessings that although this movie gave me two or three more genres than I signed up for, at least it didn't surprise me by giving me 500 more genres.

Winner: The Cat

Delivery Man on IMDB