Storks used to deliver babies. But that was a huge hassle. So now storks deliver packages. Junior, the top employee, is in line to become boss. All he has to do is fire the only human on Stork Mountain — Tulip, an accident-prone orphan whom the storks have kept around for eighteen years. Unable to send her away, Junior instead gives her a job out of the way in the mailroom where she can’t cause any trouble. But after they discover a baby, they need to quietly deliver it to its family without jeopardizing Junior’s promotion.
The plot of Storks may be in many ways your typical “buddy movie” where two very different characters go on a road trip to a accomplish a goal. We’ve seen a bunch of that lately in animated films. But here the writers avoid the biggest pitfall those other films fell victim to. Instead of feeling like a string of barely related episodes strung together, the plot flows and the trip seems like one continuous journey. That may not seem like a big deal, but when you’ve seen it go wrong as many times as I have the past two years, it’s a breath of fresh air when someone gets it right.
While the plot is pretty solid, the main draw in this film is the humor. Storks is easily the funniest animated film since The Lego Movie — not coincidentally another Warner Animation Group production. Zany, madcap comedy used to be what Warner animation was known for, and hopefully that is a tradition the company is reviving for themselves. Unlike DreamWorks, who are known for their snarky, pop culture-filled, snide humor, the type of comedy we’re seeing in these last two Warner films is more quirky, fun, and self-deprecating in nature. It’s a winning formula I think audiences will love.
There is also a storyline about a little boy and his workaholic parents. It’s definitely necessary for the story, and it’s not badly written at all. But compared to the rest of the film it is so ordinary that it seems like an unwanted break in the action. But maybe with all the nonstop lunacy of Junior and Tulip’s plotline, these segments act as a cleansing of the palate to get you ready for what’s next.
In a movie about babies and starting families, there is always a chance of getting too sentimental. Thankfully Storks, while not ignoring the emotional aspects of its subject matter, avoids going that route — until a short section near the end that feels very out of place. Instead of working it in a more organic way, the filmmakers stop everything to show us a virtual slideshow of perfectly-cast and perfectly-diverse families against a solid background holding babies. Why? I’m a die-hard cynic, so whenever I see something like this randomly inserted in a movie I assume it is to show how wonderfully open-minded and unprejudiced the filmmakers are. If that’s something you really care about a more natural and convincing way to show it might have been to have had some diversity during the first 85 minutes of the film!
The art in Storks is the usual high quality you’d expect from a major studio. The sets of Stork Mountain are very nicely done — and they include a warehouse and a mailroom, so that’s impressive! The character designs are mostly interesting. Tulip’s look turns out to be very versatile in a particularly funny segment of the story. Junior’s facial expressions are always varied, expressive, and comical. And the baby is just preternaturally adorable. One thing that deserves extra praise here is the wolf pack. I hate to do this, but I do not want to ruin it because it is one of the most wonderfully absurd things in the film. And its animation is incredible!
I loved the voice acting. I barely recognized Andy Samberg as Junior, and he was just using his regular voice; he was so perfect for the part he blended into the character. Katie Crown was hilarious as Tulip. Kelsey Grammer as the boss of the company was spot-on, and responsible for something really cool at my theatre — the absolute lowest, bone-shaking pitch I have ever heard from a sound system at the movies! Keegan-Michael Key & Jordan Peele as members of the wolf pack are playing their usual parts, but as usual are absolute scene stealers. And Stephen Kramer Glickman as Pigeon Toady is so over-the-top weird that you’re not going to be sure about him at first, but by the end you’ll be quoting his lines in that crazy voice.
Storks is not perfect, and it’s not high art. But it is exactly what the filmmakers intended: an extremely enjoyable and hysterical movie. It’s easily the most fun I’ve had at an animated film this year. This is the kind of movie you can watch over and over and enjoy every time. With great animation, top-notch voice talent, an engaging story, and incredible humor, Storks…… wait for it…… delivers.
Warner Animation Group
September 23, 2016
directed by Nicholas Stoller & Doug Sweetland