Like the best animated films, there is a wonderful universality to the premise of Storks – in this case, the idea of where babies come from, before parents sits you down and have that chat with you. As ideas for a film go, it’s up there with actually having monsters in the closet or what happens if your toys really come alive when you’re not around. However, unlike those films, it fails to hit the heights and, if I’m honest, it never really reaches for them. Storks is fun to watch, but it won’t stay with you long.
Storks used to deliver babies to families, but a short while ago, it was decided to focus solely on delivering packages for a top global internet retail giant. Junior (Andy Samberg), the company’s top delivery stork, is on the cusp on taking over the company, but finds his job is threatened by the accidental production of an adorable but completely unauthorised girl. With the help of Tulip (Katie Crown), the only human on Stork Mountain after she was accidentally orphaned by the company, he sets out to deliver the child before his boss (Kelsey Grammer) finds out, and finds that his journey may not be as simple as he first imagined.
A lot of the movie’s strength is to be found in its voice cast – there are some good double acts here, with Samberg and newcomer Crown playing well off each other, mixing up the former’s neurotic attempts at detachment and the latter’s hopeful optimism. Ty Burrell and Jennifer Aniston don’t get a lot of time as workaholic-turned-playful parents, and Grammer is authoritative as ever.
Where the movie suffers a bit is in the strength of its jokes. There are sequences that work very well – a silent fight scene so as to not wake the baby, for example, or a kind-of parody CSI opening about babies – but they are not too frequent, and a lot of the humour wants to really on characters doing silly voices and moving swiftly on. Particularly annoying is a side-quest featuring some wolves (the lead two voiced by Keegan-Michael Key and Jordan Peele), who possess the ability to morph into various shapes. It is a gag that stops being funny very quickly (even if it does allow for some good animation), and it takes up a fair bit of time in what is quite a lean movie.
As Storks is an animated film, there is also a message, and this film wants us to ruminate on parenthood, taking two tacks on it. The first is the composite family of Junior and Tulip, and how they choose to sacrifice and change themselves for ‘their’ child, but it works better on the more human and realistic level. Nate (added by some very matter-of-fact lines delivered by Anton Starkman) wants to spend time with his family, who are always too busy working, and although some of his lines and points are perhaps a little heavy-handed, it works well. If one parent changes their ways because of this movie, it’s a job well done.
Now, I’m not going to lie and claim this is a perfect film, nor will it have the same longevity as some of its better rivals. It suffers from too many unfunny gags and plot holes (what is birth in this world – not every animation changes the rules of humanity), and plot that frequently feels a bit too disjointed. However, it is not a terrible effort, and the fun in the picture outweighs the negatives – there is enough here to recommend that you go and check it out.
Director: Nicholas Stoller, Doug Sweetland
Cast: Andy Samberg (Junior), Katie Crown (Tulip), Kelsey Grammer (Hunter), Jennifer Aniston (Sarah Gardner), Ty Burrell (Henry Gardner), Anton Starkman (Nate Gardner)
Running Time: 87 Mins
Image credit: http://www.rogerebert.com/reviews/storks-2016