THE DOC OPTION: DELIVERY MAN OR DONOR UNKNOWN?
One side effect of living in a time of rapid scientific advancement is that story ideas that once would have been considered “genre” are now fully plausible. Both the new fiction film Delivery Man (a remake of the 2011 French Canadian feature Starbuck) and the 2010 documentary Donor Unknown are about men who, through prolific sperm donation, have become the “fathers” of a good amount of children. They played a role in so many conceptions without ever meeting the parents or offspring. Both movies look at what happens when those children become curious about their biological origins and the interactions they have with their donors.
Neither Jeffrey Harrison, the subject of Donor Unknown, nor David Wozniak, the protagonist of Delivery Man (played by Vince Vaughn), are actually the fathers here, of course. They are donors, pure and simple. Absentee fathers are a common topic in art, since a father can leave a family much more easily than a mother can, and that’s led to a curious insistence that whoever gives the sperm is the father of a child. I don’t buy this. I think whoever is there to raise a kid is the father. Of course, there doesn’t necessarily have to be a father at all (another idea that we’re not wholly comfortable with still). Many of the kids spawned by Harrison’s donations were born to lesbian couples. Family is what you make, not strictly what you’re born into. Donor Unknown recognizes this, while Delivery Man does not. Those divergent philosophies form the root of why the doc is a better prospect than the fictional work...