DIR: Nicholas Stoller, Doug Sweetland • WRI: Nicholas Stoller • PRO: Nicholas Stoller • DOP: Simon Dunsdon • ED: John Venzon • DES: Paul Lasaine • MUS: Jeff Danna, Mychael Danna • CAST: Andy Samberg, Jennifer Aniston, Ty Burrell, Kelsey Grammer
With the opinion on family films today being heavily maligned towards their very existence (albeit with Disney proving to be an exception to the rule), it was to everyone’s surprise that The Lego Movie, produced by Warner Bros., proved to be not only successful but lauded as one of the best films of 2014. Considering the film’s immense acclaim and viability for both the film studio and Lego respectively, it’s surprising that last year saw no capitalization from the studio in churning out another animation with equal amounts of marketability. Instead, Warner Bros. have waited and released Storks, a fast-paced and sharply written comedy that shows a promising return to form from the studio that homed Loony Toons and some of the greatest animated shorts of all time.
The story takes place in a world where storks and other birds have shifted their focus from baby delivery to package deliveries in conjunction with an internet company named Cornerstore.com. Junior (Andy Samberg from Brooklyn Nine-Nine) is on the verge of being promoted, but his job may be compromised when the storks’ baby-making machine is reignited and a new baby is created. With the help of a young orphan named Tulip (Katie Crown from Bob’s Burgers), Junior must deliver the baby surreptitiously to their parents before his boss (Kelsey Grammer from Frasier) discovers Junior’s grave mistake.
Storks’s weakest element is its story, borrowing heavily from popular kids films, such as Ice Age and Monsters Inc., rather than attempting anything original. Its narrative is formulaic and it plays out each scene predictably even if it lacks sense. For instance, there’s no need for the film to have a villain, considering it can’t seem to choose one, but a villain shows up nevertheless to provide a clear-cut climax to end the story with. At times, the film fills the running time almost too much with assorted plot elements. A sub-story involving Nate, who writes the letter which resets the baby-making machine, shows the young boy coaxing his neglectful parents into spending more time with him. While these scenes contain many humorous and tender moments, it has little impact to the narrative of Storks, often repeating the same moral and themes that permeate throughout the main plot involving Junior and Tulip.
However, while the incredibly loud and expeditious pacing might alienate some to the film’s overall style, Storks demonstrates a comedic tone heavily reminiscent of classic Loony Toons animations blended with contemporary tropes to suit younger audiences. Yes, there are montages set to “exclusive” pop songs to sell soundtracks and scenes where characters talk about feeling like they don’t belong, but there are also many slapstick jokes, fourth wall breaks, adult jokes, and strong vocal performances that make much of the film’s comedy strongly affective. In particular, Jordan Peele and Keegan-Michael Key are hilarious as a pack of wolves that become smitten by the new-born baby and try to steal her for themselves, demonstrating the same gift for comedy that they did during their run on Comedy Central’s Key and Peele.
Like many comedies, Storks will undoubtedly depend on a person’s subjective taste in humour; proving to annoy some while also being entertaining to others. Despite this, the film still illustrates itself as a quick, but well-crafted, romp that stands out for its attention to comedic timing and delivery amongst many recent underwhelming and unfunny kids movies from Hollywood. By no means can Storks be considered remarkable, but when a clear sense of dedication, passion, and interest can be seen with every prat fall, it deserves to be praised for taking something so cynically uninspired as storks delivering store packages and making it genuinely funny for all ages.
G (See IFCO for details)
Storks is released 14th October 2016