Find your flock
Where do babies come from? Well, according to the newly established Warner Animation Group — the lunatics behind The LEGO Movie (2014) — these bouncing bundles of joy are carried to folk all around the world by means of white-featured stork … or at least they used to be. You see, just like your local video store or bookstore for that matter, the baby business has gone the way of the Dodo, thanks to online shopping and its sudden surge in popularity. Sick of the tough-work-no-reward tenor associated with shipping newborns, the storks have shrewdly moved into the appliance sector, delivering everyday doodads for an Amazon-type company in the clouds called Cornerstore.com, headed by hard-nosed executive CEO Hunter (voiced by Kelsey Grammer).
Even though the corporation isn’t as cordial as it used to be, business is a boomin’ with productivity running a lot smoother than it did in the past, this part and parcel to the company’s top delivery bird, the overachieving Junior (a zany Andy Samberg). While he mightn’t have many friends in the building, Junior is primed and ready for a big managerial promotion after the weekend, that’s if he can complete one tiny task — fire Cornerstone’s only human employee, the accident-prone ‘Orphan’ Tulip (Katie Crown supplying the vocals). As it turns out, Tulip has lived in the twitters’ presence since birth, a mishap leaving her stranded with the flock for eighteen odd years, the carrot-haired stray hoping to one day be reunited with her own clan.
Junior however, doesn’t have the heart to send Tulip packin,’ the long-necked flapper lying to her about a bogus promotion in the abandoned mailroom, hoping that she’d lock herself away until he receives his long waited advancement. All’s well until Nate Gardner (voiced by Anton Starkman), the lonesome son of overworked parents Henry and Sarah (Ty Burrell and Jennifer Aniston respectively), finds a baby-delivery brochure and writes a letter to the storks asking them for a little brother — if possible, one with ninja skills. Normally, such a request would be ignored, but with Tulip manning the ‘post office,’ she sticks Nate’s application into the baby machine and inadvertently restarts the dormant toddler factory. Then ‘Boom!’ With a pink-haired baby girl in their care — who’s later named Diamond Destiny — Junior and Tulip must carry out a ‘special delivery’ before the higher-ups catch wind of the shocking mishap.
While somewhat familiar in it’s plotting — complete with lessons about the importance of family and staying true to one’s self — it’s the colorful Loony Tunes animation and sugary energy that ultimately sends Storks flying, much like Phil Lord and Christopher Miller’s tasty Cloudy with a Chance of Meatballs (2009). Sure, it might take a few minutes to adjust to the flick’s over-the-top sardonic vibe but once you’re in sync, Storks is a lot of fun. Directed by newcomer Doug Sweetland and Nicholas Stoller, who previously helmed the live-action comedy hits Neighbors (2014) and The Five-Year Engagement (2012), the film’s everything-and-the-kitchen-sink approach actually works in its favor, its off-the-wall creativity becoming more pleasing with each passing (hit-or-miss) gag — my favorite being a clash with a waddle of sinister penguins that’s fought in near silence as to avoid waking a sleeping baby. Granted, the pic’s final confrontation does feel a little too Transformers-esque but Stoller’s cheeky brand of funny and the movie’s organic sweetness still wind up saving the day!
The voice cast also helps liven proceedings, Andy Samberg, Hotel Transylvania (2012), leading the troupe with his usual goofy exuberance, the 38-year-old playing the unlikely hero Junior. Comedy duo Keegan-Michael Key and Jordan Peele of Key and Peele (2012) fame are great as a couple of Alpha and Beta baby-loving wolves whose shape-altering pack are responsible for some of the flick’s wittiest visual gags, which are sure to have the kiddies in stitches. Elsewhere, bad-ass Danny Trejo, Spy Kids (2001), does a solid job voicing the exiled stork Jasper, a battered bird with a shady back-story, while funny-man Stephen Kramer Glickman is gleefully irritating as Pigeon Toady, a dude-bro suck-up who’s trying way too hard to win over his boss and colleges’ acceptance — think a really, really, really annoying co-worker.
Moreover, it’s worth mentioning a message that’s aimed towards parents, reminding those with children to enjoy them while they’re still young. There’s also a progressive scene towards the climax that sees a number of new infants being delivered to their families, which, just like in reality, come from all walks of life — we see same-sex couples, folks of different colour, single moms and your traditional nuclear fam-bam. It’s a subtle and non-preachy sequence that earns Storks a few of extra feathers.
By no means an absolute knockout, Storks is probably a bit too quick and eager to please, with filmmakers working in fast-forward to grab viewers’ attention … and keep it. That said, the film’s cutesy balance of madcap humor and winning heart manage to pull it through, Warner Animation Group delivering a feature that’s equal parts loveable and naughty, just like the tots being transported.
3 / 5 – Good
Reviewed by Mr. Movie
Storks is released through Roadshow Entertainment Australia