By: Andrew Haas
This year has been big for animated features. There have been some gems like Zootopia and duds like Angry Birds. So I didn’t know what to expect going into Storks. This is the latest film from Warner Animation Group, the studio responsible for the highly acclaimed The LEGO Movie. The trailers didn’t do much for me initially, but the studio and the writer/co-director Nicholas Stoller of Forgetting Sarah Marshall fame did make me curious to see how it would be. After seeing it, not all of it worked, but I still found enjoyment in the flick.
Storks no longer deliver babies, but instead work with packages for Cornerstore. Junior, voiced by Andy Samberg, is about to be promoted to company boss, until a new order for a baby arrives. Now with the help of the orphaned human worker Tulip, voiced by Katie Crown, the two must fix the mistake by delivering the newly created baby before anyone finds out.
Much like The LEGO Movie, this film goes for rapid fire comedy. There is always one joke after another at a brisk pace. I will say this film’s writing does have a lot going for it. The plot itself leads to some pretty predictable arcs at times, but the humor is usually strong enough to make it work. Some jokes can be seen coming a mile away while others caught me completely off-guard. Set pieces like escaping from wolves and rescuing the baby without waking it up had me laughing out loud. This is helped by the animation which is one of the few examples of cartoony CGI that is actually well-executed. I felt like I was watching a 3D classic Looney Tunes cartoon. Besides that, I was surprised to find this film had a nice theme of parenthood. I can see a lot of parents relating to how the protagonists try to take care of the baby. In addition to the theme, there are scenes where the boy who asked for the baby sibling tries to bond with his parents, and it’s fun watching this family’s relationship grow over the arrival of a new member.
The characters each have their own little quirks and can be charming for the most part. Junior and Tulip are likeable leads and they work together well, even if they seem like they’re trying to one-up each other at being zany, which doesn’t always work. Kelsey Grammer as the boss stork Hunter is a great personality to watch and the family that wants the baby is also enjoyable while adding to the heart of the story. My favorite characters though have the be the wolfpack. Not only do they offer great comedic performances from Keegan-Michael Key and Jordan Peele, but they also have the best running gag in the film that I won’t dare give away.
However, not every gag sticks the landing; while the film already has a lot of good jokes, it acts like they’re not enough. Occasionally, there are scenes in between that feel the need to just throw entertainment at the audience even if they’re distracting or adding nothing of value to the story. It all feels jammed within the fast movement of events, resulting in the experience going back and forth between fun and exhausting. I found myself cringing at a couple points during the film because of how spastic, random, and useless some moments were.
Thankfully, the film does become very touching by the end. I won’t give away exactly how it ends, though anyone reading the premise could probably figure it out. The way it’s executed is very heartwarming and, despite the fact that I wasn’t in the best mood during some moments, I did end up leaving the film with a smile.
I’m glad I saw Storks even if it’s not the best animated feature I’ve seen so far this year. The story and frenetic humor are a mixed bag, but there’s still a good amount of laughs and heart that puts it above some of the more mediocre efforts this year. Frankly, how one views Storks will depend on the mood he or she is in walking into it. Kids will enjoy this for sure and even people entering parenthood will get a kick out of this. However, I feel like other adults are bound to be split on it; some will find it funny and charming while others will find it brainless and annoying. I’d say check it out and decide for yourself.