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'Delivery Man': Oh a Lovable Loser, I Don't Suppose We'll Get a Montage With That?

By Steven Lloyd Wilson | Film Reviews | November 22, 2013 | Comments ()


delivery-man-vince-vaughn-chris-pratt.jpg

Vince Vaughn plays a lovable loser. Because of course he does. He’s acted exactly twice in his life, once telling Jon Favreau he was money, and once the plagiarized version of a serial killer. I hope that Vaughn is a lovable loser in real life and that showing up to these jobs is no work at all, because if he’s actually acting in this endless cavalcade of films, that would make for a very unsatisfying bit of eternal typecasting for an actor.

Vaughn plays a guy who due to an error at a sperm bank has ended up being the father of five hundred kids. There’s also a subplot involving him owing a hundred grand to criminals, just to make sure that he’s completely impossible to relate to, sympathize with, or frankly give a damn about in any way. Montages happen, he learns very special lessons, and in the end all his problems are solved without him actually changing as a person at all.

There are some nice touches to it: one of his children is a severely disabled kid apparently abandoned in a care facility. His character’s father is an interesting and distinct character without being a caricature. The story of the children suing to find out the identity of their father, while bonding as a sort of extended family is interesting, if undeveloped. It’s a strangely unfunny movie, focusing a lot more on the drama of the situation than playing for laughs, and Vaughn himself shows a surprising amount of range. But the movie never rises above the premise anymore than Vaughn’s characters rises above being just a lovable loser.

It’s not precisely a bad movie, but it’s frustrating because it’s just well enough done to see that it could have been a much more substantial and interesting movie. But it just ends up being a sort of nothing of frippery that is trying really hard to be cute. It’s successful. It’s cute. Have a fucking gold star.

Here’s the problem. And we’re going to spin this out into a wider net. I hate the lovable loser. I don’t want him on my movie screens anymore. I certainly don’t want to see the seventeenth movie of the year featuring a fuck up of a man child whose problems are all caused by his own incompetence and laziness, while never suffering real consequences for it because he’s got charm. Take your charm and shove it up your ass.

Vaughn’s character works as a delivery man for his father’s meat delivery company. At one point his father informs him that he’s a terrible delivery man, that he takes four times as long to do the work as anyone else would, but that it’s okay because everyone who meets him loves him. Fuck off, you’re fired. I want my damned meat delivered on time.

We don’t live in a meritocracy. We never have. We live in a charismacracy. Those with more charm get ahead, regardless of whether they have the slightest talent to back it up, whether they even bother putting forth any effort at all. I doubt that will ever change, but that makes the story of people like Vaughn’s character tragic commentaries on the human condition rather than cute looks at quirky lovable losers.

There are four types of peoples in the world, the permutations of two dimensions: competence and niceness. Competent nice guys are wonderful, the best sort to have around. Incompetent assholes are also wonderful, because you just cut them out of your life with no qualms. But those other two sectors are the interesting ones. I’d much rather deal with a competent asshole day-in and day-out than an incompetent nice guy. Because the latter breaks your heart if you cut them out, and breaks the rest of your life if you don’t.

Let me split a hair here. The lovable schlub is different than the lovable loser. The schlub tries, he works his soul off trying and trying. Andy of “Parks and Rec” is a schlub. The lovable loser doesn’t try, or at least not until he gets bored and wanders off. He fucks himself over and then wants a cookie because he’s nice.

I’m being overly hard on the film I suppose. I don’t hate it. To quote one of the wisest women to ever grace television: I nothing it. I mean, it skates by making a nominal effort at saying Important Serious Things, and then not really following through at all, while being more entertaining than it deserves to be by the sheer talent of the cast involved. And then you feel bad for not giving the movie the medal it clearly wants for not actively shitting itself, because it is so charming.

I guess that means that on a meta-level the film’s quality is in itself a direct commentary on the protagonist. Whoa.

Steven Lloyd Wilson is a hopeless romantic and the last scion of Norse warriors and the forbidden elder gods. His novel, ramblings, and assorted fictions coalesce at www.burningviolin.com. You can email him here and order his novel here.



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Comments Are Welcome, Jerks Will Be Banned


  • Mark Maloney

    Thanks for confirming what I suspected - more of the same, by-the-numbers stuff for the masses. I've enjoyed Vaughn in precisely one of his movies, but he's effectively inert in everything else he's in. I can develop no reaction to him or those like him; he's cast in movies and scripted so predictably it feels like I can guess almost every word of dialog in his movies. But I guess the jokes on me because he works a lot less and makes a lot more than me. How did we get to the point where this art form is driven by a formula that essentially says, "Recognizable commodity+Provocative Sounding but underdeveloped Premise=Guaranteed Profit and likely sequel". My biggest problem is likely that I cannot identify with lazy, lovable loser type who consistently makes poor choices and consciously requires others make adjustments to accomodate (and further encourage) his lifestyle. I've made PLENTY of poor choices btw....

  • Mrs. Julien

    This review is why you're Steven Lloyd Wilson and I'm not. I just read and exclaim, "EXACTLY!".

  • Kenshiro70

    Props for the Scrubs reference by the way.

  • Aaron Schulz

    Loveable losers need to disappear the way most manic pixie dream girls have.

  • John G.

    If you didn't want me to see this movie, all you had to say was Vince Vaughn

  • Finance_Nerd

    I was able to see this at a free screening in the last week of Oct. I though we were going to need to fill out surveys on what we liked/disliked at the end, have little 3 second "I loved it" segments filmed or that they would want something from us for seeing the movie for free, but it was just a free screening. That in itself was odd to me. Maybe we were supposed to start a buzz about it in social media, but they never indicated us to do so. Regardless, I'm glad I didn't pay to see it.

    It seemed like there were two directors cutting the film - one making it a comedy with the other wanting it to be a drama and neither one really won out. I also felt like the movie wasn't paced right. Everything seemed to just wrap up way too quickly and neatly in the last 15 min after some significant set up. Because of that, I just walked away with a "meh" feeling. As he mentions above, it's not a bad movie, it's just not great either.

  • Vaughn is either the fast-talking asshole who's not as smart as he thinks he is or he's the normal-speed-talking asshole who's smarter than everyone gives him credit for.

    The question to be asked: "Why the hell does he keep getting leads?"

    It's one thing for him to have settled into a career of ensemble movies or supporting roles to big stars that like him. But every fall season, he's got another major release out. And you know that they're forgettable, mediocre pablum. Yet they get a major release date with a major marketing push.

    Only thing I can figure is that there's a whole population of "lovable assholes" out there that relate to him.

  • eveeve

    I feel the same way about Adam Sandler. These movies make money... it makes no sense.

  • Sarah Weissman

    I do love me some Wedding Singer but I suppose he's more of a schlub? At least Robbie's doing what he enjoys/

  • St

    "fuck up of a man child whose problems are all caused by his own incompetence and laziness, while never suffering real consequences for it because he’s got charm" - yep, I’m tired of it too. It’s like every man is Hollywood is man-child. There are only few REAL MEN out there. Like Clooney. And then there are all those man-childs like LaBeauf, RDJ, Jesse Eisenberg, every single comic like Sandler, Vaughn and other.

  • Sarah Weissman

    How are you defining real man? Eisenberg looks young but he's a fantastic actor. I don't see the break-down.

  • Stu Rat

    Hence the rise of all those anorexic looking women who can totally kick guys' asses after their training montage.

  • e jerry powell

    "It’s not precisely a bad movie, but it’s frustrating because it’s just well enough done to see that it could have been a much more substantial and interesting movie."

    I hate it when that happens. I'd rather things just be bad outright.

  • spuffy

    The original film was called Star Buck and was only released 2 years ago. It apparently is a much film better despite being very similar. After watching the trailer for it I have decided not to even bother with Vaughn's version and hunt it out.

    http://www.imdb.com/title/tt17...

  • esazee

    It's on Netflix Instant...so pretty easy to hunt out :)

  • spuffy

    Teaches me to post before looking ;) Thanks :)

  • idiosynchronic

    But that was French, or at least Canadian, and didn't star some asshole we didn't already recognize, so . .

  • Stephen Mercer

    Not that it matters ... this was originally a film set/filmed in Quebec, Canada and reworked into this current version by the original writer/director (Ken Scott) !

  • Bob Genghis Khan

    "There’s also a subplot involving him owing a hundred grand to criminals"

    /End Reading of Review

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