Genre: Comedy-Drama
Premise: When an aging irresponsible meat truck driver learns he’s fathered over 500 children via artificial insemination, he does everything in his power to help them, as long as they don’t find out who he is.
About: Well this is a bit of a rags to riches story. Writer-Director Ken Scott was making small indie movies in Canada for a decade when he conceived of “Starbuck.” The small-budgeted film made all of 1.6 million dollars at the global box office. Then Vince Vaughn saw the movie and wanted to make an American version of it. Instead of going the typical Hollywood route of hiring a flashy big-name screenwriter to adapt the film, he hired Scott himself. Not only to write the film, but to DIRECT it. Talk about getting your shot. Apparently, Vaughn liked Scott so much, he’s having him direct his next film, the Walter-Mitty-like “Business Trip,” as well (which I’ve read and thought was quite good). So I guess there ya go. You stick with it long enough and good things come to you.
Writer: Ken Scott (adapted from the film “Starbuck” written by Ken Scott and Martin Petit)
Details: 103 pages – February 2012 – First Draft

delivery-man-trailer-0722013-145639

As long as we’re laying our cards on the table, I gotta be true to you.

I kinda liked the Google movie. The one with Vince Vaughn and Owen Wilson? You have to keep this between us because I don’t want anyone else to find out.

I don’t even remember what it was called. Google Guys? Google, The Film? Don’t Loogle On My Google? Whatever the case, I assumed it was going to be horrible because it was so clearly an ad for Google. Yet it was fascinating to watch in the oddest way. You’d have these situations – like this evil villainous Indian character who worked at Google – and you’re wondering, how bad are they going to make him? Because if they make him too bad, they’re basically saying, “If you come work at Google, really angry Indian men are going to yell at you all day and make your life a living hell.” Which isn’t the best endorsement for the company. At the same time, the story requires a villain to work. So the writer wants Angry Indian Man yelling at all these poor interns.  You, then, get to watch this push-pull battle between Google and the writers in real time, desperate to find out who wins! Okay, maybe that’s not as fascinating as I originally thought it was, but for someone obsessed with screenwriting, this is prime entertainment.

What does this have to do with today’s script? Everything!!!! Actually nothing. But being dramatic always sounds better. I didn’t know a whole lot about Delivery Man going into it. I just knew that this was supposed to be the beginning of Vaughn’s resurgence as an actor. He’d been making these really terrible goofy movies for a decade now (with the exception of a couple) and I guess he just got sick of it. Call it Matthew Mcconaughey Syndrome. Let’s see if he’s indeed changed his ways.

David Wozniak never quite grew up. He’s 42 years old. He works as a delivery man for his family business (a “Meat Store”) and he’s the low man on the totem pole. If somebody needs something done, they DON’T call David.

But David’s not a bad guy. He sort of wants to be better. But it’s hard to change your habits when you’ve been doing them for 42 years. Take the fact that his girlfriend, Emma, is pregnant. David KIND OF wants the baby. He just isn’t confident he’ll be able to handle it when the shit hits the… diapers.

Well David’s about to get a crash course in fatherhood. A lawyer breaks into his loft and informs him that twenty years ago, when David donated his sperm to a fertility clinic, “complications” resulted in that sperm being given out to 700 women. Which has translated, today, into 533 children, 342 of whom have put together a class-action suit to find out who their father is.

While at first, David can barely handle this burden, he eventually becomes obsessed with all his children, doing what anyone who’s been told they have 500 children would do – he stalks them (no word yet on whether Scott is applying the Rian Johnson Looper approach of digitally super-imposing Vince Vaughn’s features on all the kids’ faces). He finds out one is a professional basketball player, another is a wannabe actor, another a drug addict, another an emo goth, another black, another gay, and yet another developmentally challenged. David does his best to touch and guide these childrens’ lives, but there are so many that he can only do so much.

Eventually, the class action suit starts heating up and David must do everything in his power to protect his identify, even as the story about the “mystery donor of 500 children” goes global and everyone in the world wonders who this man is. In the end, David will have to decide whether to disclose his identity or not, a decision that will go to the very core of whether or not he’s finally ready to grow up.

Starbuck (aka Delivery Man) was pretty good. I mean this is definitely not your typical Vince Vaughn flick. The scene where David finds out that one of his kids is developmentally challenged alone has more emotional layers than Fred Clause, Dodgeball, Couples Retreat, and The Watch combined.

I think the big takeaway here, though, is the notion of turning an idea into a story. This particular idea (of someone fathering tons of kids via artificial insemination) has been all over Hollywood for the past 15 years. But nobody was able to get it right in movie form. And the reason for that is, they weren’t able to take the IDEA of a man who fathered a bunch of children through artificial insemination and figure out how to build a STORY around it.

Think about it. Let’s say you’re starting to spitball this idea into an outline. A guy has fathered 500 kids. That sounds funny, right! Yeah! Err, but what happens after the scene where the lawyer tells your protagonist he’s fathered 500 kids? Uhhhhh… Have you thought that far? Because most writers don’t. You can’t have your character go meet every single one of his kids because you don’t have enough time. So then where’s the story? Does he only meet a few kids? Then what about all the others? You can see how it starts to get complicated.

Delivery Man uses an offbeat cobbled-together approach to create its story, but manages to make it work. David sees and helps five of his children, then Scott amps up the class action suit against him, so that David must hire a lawyer (his friend – who’s the worst lawyer in the world) to protect his identity. In the meantime, David continues to see his children (anonymously) and even attend the meetings for the class action suit (anonymously).

Everything is building up towards the judge’s decision, and so that becomes the engine that drives the story. Without Scott discovering the class action suit, I’m not sure this ever becomes more than an idea. Because with the suit, we have a destination. And once you have a destination, you have a story.

While I believe the script on the whole is good, I don’t think it fulfills its promise (at least not in this draft). (spoilers). That’s because we’re supposed to be worried about David being exposed as the father, and I’m not sure we do. Scott does his best. He shows articles and talk shows discuss how horrible this anonymous donor is for doing this, in hopes that we’ll say, “Oh my God! David will be roasted on national TV if he’s found out!” The problem is David hasn’t done anything wrong. It was the clinic that fucked up. David was just a stupid 20 year old desperate for cash. I guess I just didn’t see how it was bad if he was exposed.

Despite that, Delivery Man was packed with enough heart, charm and earnestness to make up for its faults. It really is a step up for Vaughn. And I’m curious to see it. I know Business Trip (Vaughn and Scott’s next collaboration) is a very visual director-y type script. So I’m curious to see how Scott is as a director as well. Can’t wait.

[ ] what the hell did I just read?
[ ] wasn’t for me
[x] worth the read
[ ] impressive
[ ] genius

What I learned: The problems with this script come down to stakes. As a screenwriter, you always have to ask, what happens if my character “loses” at the end of the film? If the answer isn’t something catastrophic (his job, his wife, his kids, his life) then the stakes probably aren’t high enough. In this case, what happens if David gets discovered? He becomes a national media topic for a week. Then his life probably goes back to normal.  He may even become a minor celebrity.  I’m just not sure that’s bad enough.

  • Panos Tsapanidis

    I still don’t find the 500 kids-solution good. Why couldn’t they make the kids 5 and have Vaughn play father on those 5 quirky kids? I know the 500 kids is the hook to go, but it creates a lot of problems. But to answer my own question, Hollywood doesn’t need to make a good movie. Just a movie that people will go to see (based on the 500 kids hook.)

    Also, I don’t know why all this hate about “The Internship.” We got EXACTLY what we were supposed to get. And that’s why I enjoyed it as an in-flight entertainment.

    • ScottStrybos

      I disagree. You need the 500-kids angle. Being a Dad to 5 kids, he could handle. Its doable. It’s the predicament of being a father to 500 kids. It’s overwhelming.

      • Panos Tsapanidis

        I agree with you, I just don’t see the execution of visiting a few kids and letting us see the rest four-hundred something as a nice way to solve this angle.

        • ScottStrybos

          In the trailer, I think I saw a group picnic scene, so I do think he eventually does meet them all at once.

          • Panos Tsapanidis

            Okay. Then, maybe they executed good.

          • J. Lawrence Head

            They executed well. :P

          • Panos Tsapanidis

            I was missing an “it” or was the choice of verb not the most appropriate one? Teach me, master. ;p

          • J. Lawrence Head

            Since you are modifying a verb, “good” is the poor choice. Good is an adjective to modify a noun. “Well” in this case is an adverb to modify the verb “executed”.

          • Panos Tsapanidis

            Gotcha. Thanks, J.

      • Citizen M

        He could stand on the side of the road with a sign reading “Honk if I’m your dad.”

    • DamselInDisguise

      I think 500 is pushing it… but 5 kids he could handle, easy.
      Maybe 50.

  • tom8883

    I watched this movie. It’s uneven and implausible. The tone is off. (I mean the original Starbuck movie.)

    • J. Lawrence Head

      Some of the things Ive read in the news in the last few years is stranger than a lot of fiction I’ve read. Nothing is implausible.

      • tom8883

        The concept isn’t implausible; it’s execution is.

        • J. Lawrence Head

          Ah gotcha

  • Ambrose*

    Whoa…..(the sound of a record scratching)

    You liked ‘The Internship’, Carson??

    I don’t know what to say. That was so weak and so wishy-washy that it had all of the substance of cotton candy. Two lovable rogues turn a ragtag bunch of nerds into…a ragtag bunch of nerds who go to a strip club.

    I might have to take your In-And-Out privileges away for a month for your assessment of that movie.

    As of right now you’re on Double Secret Probation (although I guess it’s not Secret if you know about it).

    Regarding ‘Delivery Man’, you took the words right out of my mouth. The “S” in GSU was sorely missing.

    I never felt any real sense of jeopardy for David if his identity was discovered. Maybe he’d be a tabloid face for a week or so but then they’d move on to the next “Octomom” and he’d be forgotten.

    The Stakes definitely needed to be amped up.

    One other thing that I found annoying was the writer calling David’s two brothers throughout the script: UPTIGHT BROTHER and LIKEABLE BROTHER.

    To the writer: Yeah, we get it but give each of them a name.

    We can remember which one is which. Don’t treat us like numbsculls who can’t remember which is the good cop and which is the bad cop.

    And finally, the writer’s name is misspelled on the title page as “Ken Scoot”.

    You’d think maybe that at least the writer’s own name would be spelled correctly but here it’s not.

    Amazing.

    • J. Lawrence Head

      GSU is important, to be sure. But the question of how high a stakes is high enough is largely a subjective question. In Sci-fi/Action/Thriller/Epic movies, yes, a large scale world changing stakes is required. In a comedy (or in this case more of a Dramedy) I think the stakes don’t need to be as high.

      Take “Crazy Stupid Love”, for example. Not super huge stakes, but still one of my favorite movies of the decade.

      In the case of “Delivery Man”, it’s a bit of grey area. Yes the media will make a spectacle out of it for 15 minutes, but on the other hand you’re up-heaving the course 500+ lives, and it won’t just stop at “now they know who their Dad is”, There are dozens of other ramifications that have not been for seen by you, me or anybody. Legal, emotional, or otherwise.

      I’m not advocating either outcome, knowing or not knowing, but implying the stakes are not high either way is a bit premature.

      • crazedwriter

        If all his life, he had been such a loser, he would be skewered for the world to see what a fuckup he was. Who the hell would want that? And it wouldn’t be for just 15 minutes either. As Sorkin wrote in The Social Network — ‘what’s on the internet is written in ink.’ It would never go away. There is no way in hell I would want that kind of notoriety, and I understand that being a huge “stakes” issue for him.

    • klmn

      Suspending his In ‘N Out privileges is a pretty severe punishment. Maybe you could just flog him?

      Leave the poor guy something to live for.

  • shewrites

    As Carson said, Starbuck was a charming movie. The lack of serious stakes did not hurt it all that much for me. I’m curious to see if they’ve been rewritten to be higher in the Delivery Man version.
    Interestingly this fall not only is the American version about to be released but a French remake titled Fonzy is coming out in France as well.

  • JW

    Vaughn is at an interesting crossroads because his movies aren’t making money anymore and people around town are starting to talk. The Internship (the one you were struggling to find the name for C) bombed. Before that was The Watch and quite frankly that was a nuclear disaster. Before that was The Dilemma (quite a telling title). The last film he did that made money was 2009’s Couple’s Retreat (and that was an ensemble). I think Vaughn suffers from what most people in Hollywood suffer from and that is no one around them telling them, “you suck, or that joke sucks, or you really need to adjust your shtick.” I remember listening to a writer who was working with Adam Sandler and she said, “what Adam Sandler wants, Adam Sandler gets.” She recalled a situation where they were rewriting a scene and Sandler wanted X to happen while the writer wanted Y and as she described it, what Sandler wanted was absolutely ridiculous, not funny and actually cheesy beyond belief, but he told her to just do it, so they did and the scene in the film bombed (along with the film). FYI Hollywood stars – sometimes a reality check is worth millions (especially when your films aren’t making money).

  • drifting in space

    Dude needs to do a character driven movie that flexes some chops. Seems to be all the rage lately.

    • ripleyy

      Well the last time he attempted that, it resulted in the Psycho remake. But I do agree that he just needs to do a really dramatic role. Adam Sandler has proved that it can be done, as well as Jim Carrey.

      • ScottStrybos

        Don’t forget “Return to Paradise”. I think he was really good in that (wasn’t he?). But that was 15 years ago.

        • wlubake

          Loved that movie. Vaughn and Phoenix were great.

      • drifting in space

        Yikes, Psycho. Yeah, forgot about that one. I think there is a role waiting for VV. He just needs to get his head out of all these plunkers.

  • ScottStrybos

    It is rare that a film works that doesn’t have stakes. The ones that do work, usually have an overload of another element to compensate.

    Like the film Contact. The story has no real stakes (or urgency for that matter). They can build the machine or not build the machine (at whatever pace they want–there was no deadline given by the aliens). If they don’t, life goes on. What the film had an abundance of was mystery: what would be waiting for them on the other side of the machine?

    What this film will needs, I think, to overcome the lack of stakes, is an overload of Heart.

  • Mike.H

    if anyone has script please send to: may1msg AT GMAIL DOT COM Thanks!

  • Citizen M

    What I learned:

    1. There’s a sperm shortage in Canada, caused by stupid government policy.

    2. The original Starbuck was a Holstein bull who sired over 200 000 daughters. Beat that, Vince Vaughn.

    .

    • J. Lawrence Head

      Depends on which definition of “beat” you mean, cause ewwww

    • Alex Palmer

      Forget that: I want a heartfelt Indie drama about Genghis Khan (played by Vince Vaughn) is trying to reconnect to his 1000s of children.

      • J. Lawrence Head

        I think we learned after John Wayne the playing Genghis Kahn should not be played by actors of another genre.

        • Alex Palmer

          I think we’re too culturally sensitive for that now, anyway.

          BTW, the downvoting fairy visited all the good little girls and boys as I was writing the comment.

          • J. Lawrence Head

            Does the person doing that actually think they’re being clever?

          • Alex Palmer

            I suppose working out which arrow denotes disapproval is an achievement for this “troll”.

            When I say troll, I’m not even sure that applies. Isn’t it meant to be witty/misleading/meanspirited? This just confuses me.

          • J. Lawrence Head

            I have no idea.

          • ScottStrybos

            Maybe our comments are just really terrible today.

    • DamselInDisguise

      Cheaper by the 200 000?

    • J. Lawrence Head

      It’s not that we have a shortage, It’s just we have a low marketing budget so people don’t know we have it. Do you know how much a sperm media ad buy costs? I don’t.

  • fragglewriter

    “The Internship” trailer wasn’t funny, but since you liked the movie, maybe it’s better viewed in a dark room while intoxicated? I liked Vince in “Dodgeball.” “The Watch” had funny parts but overall, I think the film was miscast. Maybe replace Stiller with Steve Carrell.

    I watched the trailer last month for “Starbuck” and “Delivery Man” so unless they changed the story somewhat, I don’t think it will be worth it to go to the movies IMO

    I think Vince needs to step back and either produce, direct and go the low budget/indie route because the scripts that he’s choosing are not the best. John Turturro released a movie that he wrote and directed titled “Fading Gigolo.” From the trailer, it almost sounded like Woody wrote it.

    I think Vince needs to step back and reevaluate his career path before choosing the next project.

  • J. Lawrence Head

    Just as Carson liked Internship, I actually liked couples retreat.

    • drifting in space

      I thought Couples Retreat was a fun date night movie. Nothing more – but entertaining.

      • J. Lawrence Head

        Oh i wasnt looking for a life changing plot. I just wanted something I can sit back and enjoy, plus, you know, Malin Ackerman.

        • drifting in space

          Yeah, she ain’t hard to look at.

  • ScottStrybos

    Yeah, we do…

  • JW

    I agree with this in large part and I think you’re correct that the collective conscious of the masses is never an indication of taste and/or quality. I think what happens with people like Vaughn, Stiller, Carey, etc… is that moviegoers are always hoping that they will go back to their original stuff. These guys used to be hilarious in a lot of films and eventually that falls off (ironically, in direct conjunction with them getting more control over their films – weird!). So, I know even myself, I’m sitting on a plane with nothing to do, flipping through the movies available and I come across ‘That’s my Boy’ which looked horrific in the trailers and I never watched it, but I had a few hours to kill and I thought, “well, he used to be funny, so let’s see if he’s bringing it back.” And, of course, we all know the stunningly abhorrent answer to whether or not that happened. It’s unfortunate that we make comedy so complicated. Can you make someone laugh? Yes? Done, let’s do this. But, I’m not holding my breath that happens any time soon.

  • Trek

    Wow! Two Vince Vaughn movie scripts getting high marks from Carson? This is great!

    Not that I’ve ever been a Vince Vaughn fan myself, but you really have be wanting to see these movies when they come out now!

  • Pugsley

    I’ve heard Vaughn is a real stand up guy from people who actually know him. So this rags to riches story for the writer/director doesn’t surprise me.

    It’s a GREAT concept, plus it’s got that secondary great idea of the lead attempting to help all his kids without them knowing it. Don’t know about you, but I get a lump in my throat every time I see the clip of Vaughn sitting next to his crying daughter on that bench, wanting to reach out, but knowing he shouldn’t.

  • Matticus Prime

    Cannot state enough how much this film doesn’t interest me. So much so when the trailer rolled in the theater I took a preemptive potty break so I wouldn’t miss a second of the movie I came to see. When I got back though it was just ending (perfect timing) and my wife said it looked like a good movie. So between her impression and this review I guess I got to give it a shot. Damn.

  • klmn

    I read the first 20 pages of this and it didn’t strike me as visual enough to be a movie. Too talky.

    This would be better suited for television. With 500 children, using one child per episode, that’s enough for 500 episodes.

    If Vaughn wants to do a movie that opens with masturbation, he should pack on 60 pounds- a guaranteed way to win an Oscar- and star in FATTIES.

  • lesbiancannibal

    “How the millionaire actors who appeared in it can look in the mirror is beyond me. Did you really need the money that bad? Does the idea that your credibility and clout are on the line with your career choices ever cross your minds?”

    The problem with this is it’s said in hindsight – it takes a combination of things going right to make a good film doesn’t it.

    I think it was Richard Curtis, in his recent Bafta interview/speech, who said with Bridget Jones they just did not have a movie and didn’t see how they could save it after the shooting had wrapped – but then took the scene where she’s singing All By Myself from being at the end of the second act, and stuck it at the start. A lot’s in the editing. There’s loads of examples of things like that.

    And with comedy there’s a fair bit of improv, so that could produce some magic.

    Saying that, anyone who works with Adam Sandler now I’m sure goes in with their eyes wide open.

    For $50m I might be able to persuade myself that his film I’d signed for would be a return to Happy Gilmore form though, or even 50 First Dates, that wasn’t so bad.

    • Malibo Jackk

      Good point.
      There are many versions of what could become the movie.
      There’s what the screenwriter sets out to say, what makes it on paper, what the director shoots and what results after editing.

      Many movies are saved by editing:
      Hugely successful films like LOVE STORY, ANNIE HALL, GODFATHER come to mind.

      Others are ruined.

  • Guest

    I s’pose. What I meant to say was that five was a little to… well, little.

  • JakeMLB

    You know, the more I think about some of the “problems” plaguing feature writing in Hollywood, the more I think it comes down to this:

    It’s not so much that Hollywood isn’t finding the right specs — as you point out, there aren’t a lot of great scripts out there — it’s that the feature film industry hasn’t yet found a way to nurture talent and develop good writers. Writing is hard work. Writing takes talent. Most amateur feature screenwriting is done almost entirely in isolation for zero pay. There are little to no fellowships, no internships, no mentorships, no scholarships and very little in the way of professional (unpaid) aide. Even finding constructive notes is an incredible challenge.

    For those writers with talent who didn’t go to film school or came at writing well into another career, to grow as a writer falls squarely on his/her shoulder.

    In this respect, sure it requires perseverance. But for many it quickly becomes a decision to have a life/family and be able to support them, or to continue to follow this dream of becoming a writer while slaving away at a computer for zero pay. And unfortunately in the US, the “tough-break” mentality is king which only serves to further this trend.

    Yes you need perseverance to succeed but Hollywood could do more towards DEVELOPING talent rather than just IDENTIFYING it once it appears (e.g., Blacklist). TV has various writer programs and developmental paths while film has literally nothing outside of formal education which most know does very little towards nurturing good feature writing (good writing requires maturity and most students are simply too young to gain enough from their studies). I’m certainly not the first to point this out but I wish it would get more attention.

    • drifting in space

      I agree with this.

      And the “breakout” writers always seem to be assistants to actors.

  • RoseAngelus

    Good Review. The trailer doesnt look bad either

  • FilmingEJ

    I got to see this film at a preview screening. I definitely liked it a lot better than I expected to, being a Vaughn vehicle and all. Vince Vaughn gives a good performance, an improvement over the same character he plays in every other film he’s in (although there are traces of that in here). I know you said the stakes don’t seem big enough, but as I was watching I did feel for his predicament, and wanted him to get out of it. The inclusion of his debt to the mob delivered the most dramatic stake; if he wins the court case, he gets the money and gets to move on with his life, if he loses, his family gets hurt. The two best parts were definitely the scene where he meets his disabled son (my God, every scene with that kid was absolutely heart-wrenching. I mean, every scene, I’m not exaggerating. This they did very well.) and the courtroom scenes. The courtroom scenes are very short, and that could’ve been a good thing, but I honestly thought they just kinda “montaged” through it, and even though it was intriguing, there just wasn’t enough of it, which I would have really liked. I enjoyed this film overall, definitely recommend it.

  • Panos Tsapanidis

    I was thinking about five kids, so that the movie can focus on the protagonist becoming a good father. You can’t do this with 500 kids, though you’re losing the big marketing hook that the 500 kids give you.