Saturday, November 23, 2013

Delivery Man [2013]

MPAA (PG-13)  CNS/USCCB (L)  ChicagoTribune (2 Stars) (1 1/2 Stars)  AVClub (C-)  Fr. Dennis (3 1/2 Stars)

IMDb listing
CNS/USCCB (J. Mulderig) review
ChicagoTribune (M. Phillips) review (O. Henderson) review
AVClub (A.A. Dowd) review

Delivery Man [2013] (written and directed by Ken Scott is a near carbon-copy of the French-Canadian original named Starbuck [2012] also directed by and screenplay co-authored by Ken Scott along with Martin Petit).

Now many folks may complain about the decision to make an English language copy of a foreign (if, in the US, still English-subtitled) film.  On the other hand, the original was quite, well... "original" ;-) and honestly many Americans would probably not see the French language original because of its subtitles.  And despite the film's obviously problematic premise I do believe that it's worth seeing (by adults anyway.  PARENTS TAKE NOTE: I honestly don't understand the somewhat laughable PG-13 rating...). 

The film is about an amiable if serial loser named David Wosniak (played _superbly_ in the current version by Vince Vaughn) who finds to his initial shock/dismay (really to the initial shock/dismay of EVERYONE AROUND HIM) that he did succeed (and spectacularly so) in ONE THING in life: Ever with debt problems, back in his 20s, he used to try to supplement his income by DONATING SPERM to a sperm bank and ... well ... 20 years later (now) a lawyer comes by to tell him that he had sired 533 children (!!) of which over 140 (again !!) were now suing the clinic for the release of his name ...

Yes, if David Wosniak had been a good Catholic and followed Church teaching on -- oh, let's make a list, shall we: (1) masturbation, (2) selling his ejaculated sperm to a sperm bank for (3) artificial insemination (all of which are considered objectively sinful by Catholic Church teaching) -- this predicament never would have happened.

Indeed, the film provides an EXCELLENT ILLUSTRATION of the kind of problems that ensue when Church Teaching on sexual matters is stupidly/arrogantly dismissed/ignored: There are 533 kids here who don't know their dad, and a lot of them would like to. as one would assume would be their _natural right_ to know.

But the 533, now adult, children do exist and over 140 of them do want to know who their father is.  And having learned of this, David Wosniak himself, _naturally_ would like to know something of all those children that he's helped create.

That then is the rest of the movie ... (as it was in the French Canadian original)

And while irritatingly it seems that THE ONLY ONE in the Wosniak family who still wants to pray (at a family dinner...) is the Wosniak family's esteemed father/patriarch, founder of the family's business for which perpetually "loser-son" David works as a humble (and still largely incompetent) delivery man, the film offers actually audiences opportunity to reflect on Church Teaching regarding not only (1) SEXUAL MATTERS (everyone, Catholic or not, would certainly see the situation in which David Wosniak and his 533 progeny find themselves in as problematic, hence BY DEFINITION at least on some level _sinful_), but also (2) LIFE (regardless of how they got here, those 533 people _are now_ here, AND HOW REMARKABLE IS THAT ;-), and ABOVE ALL (3) FORGIVENESS (what an opportunity to reflect on the felix culpa (happy fault) of even Adam and Eve, which we remember during the Easter Vigil Liturgy as "bringing us so great a Redeemer").

Often times contemporary society completely rejects the concept of Sin,  but often enough, it also rejects the possibility of Forgiveness (or makes it so hard that it's de facto impossible to achieve).  In contrast, the Church recognizes the world for what it is (created by God but finding itself now in a still largely Fallen State) AND yet ALSO PROCLAIMS that FORGIVENESS IS POSSIBLE that, indeed, "there is no offense, however, serious that the Church can not forgive" (CCC #982).  Indeed, people sometimes _laugh_ at the ease at which the Catholic Church forgives (Consider the recent film Don Jon [2013] where the lead character's weekly stops at the Confessional make much of the comic fodder for the film).  Yet how much more humane is that than living in a society where Sin is first denied and yet when people fall into trouble (as a result of Sin....) the possibility of forgiveness is denied (or de facto denied) as well.

So as in the case of many contemporary comedies ... this film leaves one with much to think about ;-)

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