Storks review by Mark McPherson - Cinema Paradiso
Storks is the second animated feature of Warner Brothers’ animation studio, their first being the creative and peppy The LEGO Movie and their future project being even more LEGO movies. By comparison, Storks doesn’t have as strong of a premise or a message, but it certainly matches the quality of zippy animation and clever zingers. And, let’s face it, that’s mostly what parents will be depending on to hold the attention of their kids. That being said, I was surprised by how much I got into Storks from its rather bizarre premise that was more original than I thought.
In this world, storks reside up on a mountain where they use some mystical baby-making factory to deliver babies to families. All a family has to do is write a letter addressed to the storks, the letter is processed by a magical machine and, poof, a baby is assembled and ready for delivery. For some unexplained reason, however, the storks have abandoned their baby delivery service in favor of an Amazon-style package delivering operation. My best guess is that the humans discovered how to have babies the old fashioned way and business dropped for magically-made babies.
Having formed a more corporate environment on their mountain, the pensive stork Junior (Andy Samberg) is vying for a promotion from his mean-spirited boss Hunter (Kelsey Grammer). Before reaching such a status, he must deal with sacking the factory’s only human employee Tulip, an orphan left over from the good old days of baby delivery. Junior attempts to hide her away in the dusty abandoned baby factory, but when the first request for a baby in years finally comes through, Tulip starts up the factory once more. Stuck with a baby, Junior and Tulip must deliver a pink-haired infant before being discovered by Hunter.
The humor that follows goes for everything and the kitchen sink with the sort of daringness that would makes the Looney Tunes boys of Termite Terrace proud. A pack of wild wolves chase after Junior and Tulip, forming different modes of transportation as though they were more nanomachines than animals. They form cars, boats, planes and bridges from nothing but their bodies. Did I say bridges? I meant suspension bridges; simple bridges are not funny enough.
For the parents, there are some cute digs at being a parent for Junior and Tulip’s journey. When Tulip hears the baby crying, she is overcome with a quick flash of the history of maternal instincts. When Junior and Tulip take turns feeding and rocking the baby to sleep in the middle of the night, their conversation and behavior is all too relatable. These are sequences that made me nod my head and smile with nostalgic memories of those days. It wasn’t until Junior and Tulip do battle with a horde of penguins in the most quiet of tones to avoid waking the baby that I really began laughing.
I almost found myself entranced by the world of Storks and how it casually parses out information without becoming overly expositional. The storks at one point carried babies in isolation pods in order to avoid emotional attachment towards the package. The movie began making me curious about the relationship of humans and storks. Some of the details are not thoroughly explained such as what specifically powers the baby factory and what are the rules of the stork mountain society and corporation. But there’s thankfully enough going on in the story and with the characters that such plot holes don’t become an issue. More importantly, I really don’t care who made a baby factory. Maybe the storks are renting it from God.
There are a few minor elements that are not quite robust in this adventure. There’s a secondary villain of Toadie, a cocky pigeon with a valley girl voice that desperately wants a promotion. He’s not very well developed and his arc doesn’t have much of an emotional buildup. The family expecting a new baby feel almost as though they’re from another movie entirely with dialogue that comes off more artificially satirical than genuine. And the animation design is not quite as strong as it could have been considering how hard it was to tell Junior apart from the multitude of other storks.
Is Storks fun enough for kids? Yes. Will parents have a good time and not be bored by yet another manically animated farce? Yes. Will the conversation following the movie about where babies really come from be awkward? Yes.