‘Storks’ delivers a fun animated experience
Directed by: Nicholas Stoller and Doug Sweetland
Written by: Nicholas Stoller
Starring: Andy Samberg, Katie Crown, Kelsey Grammer, Keegan-Michael Key, Jordan Peele, Jennifer Aniston, Ty Burrell, and Danny Trejo
“Storks” – When I was about 7 years old, I asked my mother where babies came from, but I do not exactly remember whether or not my father was in the room when I inquired about this elusive puzzle. If he was – and knowing my dad – he probably immediately turned to my mom with a nonverbal gesture that communicated, “I am not handling this and believe that I should mow the lawn right now.”
I do remember that my mother tried her best, but I recall leaving the conversation with unclear answers.
Fortunately for current 7 year olds, the movie “Storks” does provide a “clear” answer: storks deliver babies. Actually, they used to, because apparently for the last 18 years, storks have opted out of the baby delivery business and operate an Amazon.com-like company called Cornerstore.com. Instead of children, storks fly millions of various products - like cell phones, tote bags and the latest shoes - straight to your door.
Cornerstore.com rakes in the profits, but a “renegade” stork named Junior (Andy Samberg) and an 18-year-old girl named Tulip (Katie Crown) attempt to deliver a baby girl to the Gardner family, who live in Somewhere in the Suburbs, USA.
Generally speaking, watching the process of delivering anything – like tracking a FedEx package online – might seem like a boring proposition, and the lead characters, Junior and Tulip, do not offer much to change this particular belief. They did not originally plan on this specific delivery but are now chartered to do the heavy lifting and complete this important undertaking.
Directors Nicholas Stoller and Doug Sweetland portray Tulip as an accident prone assistant and Junior as a nice – but passive - stork. Given their natures, Tulip and Junior’s exchanges basically consist of sorting out the mechanics of getting from Cornerstore.com to the Gardner home and – quite frankly – their verbal back and forth is the weakest part of the film.
On the other hand, “Storks” is generally a fun animated experience, and especially when it features wacky visuals and introduces amusing secondary characters.
Cornerstore.com CEO, Hunter (Kelsey Grammer), and his suck up sidekick, Pigeon Toady (Stephen Kramer Glickman), supply some clever, sarcastic scenes of corporate life which will make parents relate and kids laugh. Outside of the office, Junior and Tulip encounter a pack of wolves led by Alpha and Beta Wolf (Keegan-Michael Key and Jordan Peele) who chase them by hilariously forming into various modes of transportation, such as a “wolf minivan” made of up of the actual animals themselves. Trust me, it has to be seen to be believed, and Key and Peele are the right comedians to lead these surreal on-screen transformations.
Speaking of transformations, Stoller and Sweetland let us in on the secret where babies come from in the form an alchemical, magical machine that looks like an elaborate contraption from a Dr. Seuss book, and it effectively sets up the conflict between the storks’ previous business model and the work that they do today.
The movie, however, never really explains how babies are made during the storks’ 18 year-absence from the delivery business, but kids are continually brought into the world. “Storks” is not a “Children of Men” (2006) situation, a science-fiction movie in which women are no longer capable of having babies. The movie never goes that dark. Well, I suppose I should let this point go, because “Storks” is rated PG and appropriately kid-friendly.
On the heartwarming-side, the movie also showcases some pleasant moments of parental love and cute baby scenes. Perhaps, brand new cell phones and other material possessions are less important than actual family time. A novel concept, right? Thankfully, “Storks” largely succeeds in delivering that message. As far as delivering the actual answer about where babies come from, well, parents are still on their own. Good luck with that. (3/4 stars)
Jeff – a member of the Phoenix Critics Circle – has penned film reviews since 2008 and graduated from ASU’s Walter Cronkite School of Journalism. Follow Jeff and the Phoenix Film Festival on Twitter @MitchFilmCritic and @PhoenixFilmFest, respectively.