KIDS DO THE DARNEDEST THINGS
By Carl Kozlowski
Even under the best of circumstances, learning you’re about to have a child is a surprise. Imagine if you were told that you had fathered more than 500 children, all now adults and suing for the right to track you down.
That’s the dilemma an irresponsible yet charming slacker named David Wozniak faces in the excellent new dramedy Delivery Man. Played to fast-talking Everyman perfection by Vince Vaughn in his best role since 2005’s smash hit Wedding Crashers, Wozniak is a delivery man for his family’s butcher shop in Brooklyn.
As the film’s well-paced opening moments illustrate, Wozniak is constantly racking up parking tickets, making late deliveries and preparing to get rich quick by growing plenty of pot in his cluttered apartment. As if his life isn’t chaotic enough, Wozniak finds himself served with court papers that alert him to a class-action lawsuit by more than 140 people seeking the right to meet him because they claim to be his biological children. They are part of a larger group of more than 500 children that his sperm helped produce after he made a good number of “donations” to raise money two decades before.
He had never given a second thought to the results of those sperm donations, simply pocketing the money and moving along his merry way. But despite the warnings of his best friend (Chris Pratt), a harried and married father who’s also his attorney, Wozniak starts to track down some of his kids out of curiosity prior to the courtroom proceedings.
Of course, he doesn’t tell them he’s their father, instead pretending to be just a new friend who’s stumbled upon each of them. But as he finds he can serve as a guardian angel and make their lives better, Wozniak learns that he actually wants to be a good father and starts to upend his life.
Based on a hit, critically-acclaimed French Canadian film called Starbuck, Delivery Man maintains a strong blend of laughs and emotion as well as a strong sense of character from its three leads all the way down through Wozniak’s father and siblings and about a dozen of his offspring.
While Delivery Man is great fun for teens and adults, Disney corners the kiddie market again this weekend with Frozen, a 3D animated musical adaptation of Hans Christian Andersen’s classic tale The Snow Queen. It follows the story of two daughters of royalty, Elsa and Anna, who are orphaned as young girls when their parents’ ship is capsized during a rough ocean voyage.
Older sister Elsa has the uncontrollable and dangerous power to turn anything she touches into ice. After endangering Anna’s life accidentally with her powers when they are both young, her parents locked Elsa away from Anna and the outside world. But at age 18, she is now set free after many years for her coronation day as the new ruler of her kingdom.
The problem is, no matter how hard she tries, her powers go wildly awry again, forcing her to flee her life of luxury. Anna—joined by a sweet hunk she met at Elsa’s coronation ceremony—must pursue her and convince her to return, leading to a series of adventures and romance.
While Frozen has impressive animation and a story that’s entertaining enough to keep kids occupied, it feels like a warmed-over reject from the abandoned projects pile of Disney’s more ambitious sister company, Pixar. The songs are serviceable but uninspired, with no instant classics like “Be our Guest” from Beauty and the Beast or “Under the Sea” from The Little Mermaid, and its action is second-tier compared to the similarly-toned 2010 Disney cartoon hit Tangled.
The far more pleasant surprise is a Mickey Mouse cartoon short that runs prior to Frozen, in which Mickey breaks out of his famous 1920s black and white cartoon mold into a modernized, full-color 3D adventure and back again as he tries to rescue Minnie from a kidnapping. Highly inventive and very funny to boot, here’s hoping that Disney will be inspired to bring Mickey back to life for a full-length feature film in the near-future.