Birds of a feather
Storks is directed by Nicholas Stoller and Doug Sweetland and features voicework from Andy Samberg, Katie Crown, Kelsey Grammar, Jennifer Aniston, Michael Key, and Jordan Peele.
I find it difficult to properly discuss an animated film like Storks, one that isn't directly linked to animation juggernaut Pixar or one that simply doesn't achieve the soaring heights of other non-Pixar animated smash-hits. I am, for whatever strange reason, under the impression that nearly every new animated film should turn out to be a borderline classic. I'm under that impression probably because Pixar just keeps finding new ways to deliver top quality products, and animation, in general, is one of the most robust genres in cinema today. I have read some not-too-kind reviews for Storks, but the general consensus seems to sway towards the positive side of the approval spectrum. My expectations beforehand were not exactly out of this world, since I vaguely recall the film having a rather low-key marketing campaign in the weeks up to its theatrical release. That to me speaks to a film not exactly falling into the category of must-see. This is also not the Minions or Finding Dory, where you must be blind as a bat to not notice some form of its marketing. What Storks did give me was one of my favorite type of experiences while watching a movie: my expectations are proven wrong and, every once in a while, they are exceeded. It does what just about every family targeted animated movie is supposed to do, which is combine witty and memorable humor with sugar-sweet storytelling that brings the AAAAAWWWWWs out of you. The story and its depth are more child friendly, but, hey, this is a movie that centers on birds and babies.
The story tells us of how, for many years, the storks of Stork Mountain have delivered babies to families around the world. This system came to an abrupt end, however, when one stork named Jasper (voiced by Danny Trejo) tried to take one of the babies for himself. The baby's address is lost, and the storks are forced to adopt the child, which they name Tulip. Many years later, CEO stork Hunter has shut down baby delivery and replaced it with package delivery for Cornerstore.com (which is actually a real website that is not related to this movie). Hunter is about to promote top stork deliverer Junior (Andy Samberg) to boss, but not until he fires a grown-up Tulip from her job. Junior cannot bring himself to fire Tulip, though. Meanwhile, a young boy named Nate Gardner (Anton Starkman) is feeling lonely since he has no other siblings and his parents are working non-stop. Nate writes a letter to Stork Mountain in hopes of them delivering him a baby brother (he is unaware that the storks no longer deliver babies). Tulip gets a hold of the letter and accidentally restarts the abandoned baby factory, which produces a pink-haired baby girl who is later named Diamond Destiny. Junior and Tulip must now work together to deliver the baby and avoid being caught by Hunter.
Storks should be best regarded as a second-tier animated feature, with humor and syrupy feels that are not up to the top tier level that is Pixar and Studio Ghibli, but are effective enough to fly on their own. You're most likely to come away from it saying, "I liked it. It was funny and cute." which I think is the typical reaction to second tier animated movies. It lacks the thematic depth that you would see in Inside Out and Princess Mononoke, which might be a turn-off to parents that happen to get dragged along by their kids (for the record, Princess Mononoke is not a kids film).
- Storks's funniest moments come from a pack of wolves that Junior and Tulip encounter early on once the plot fully kicks in. The alpha and beta wolves are voiced by Key & Peele, who get easily swept up by Diamond Destiny's irresistible baby cuteness. The wolf pack is able to work together in turning themselves into various objects such as a bridge. I found myself in hysterics watching these wolves act in ways that animals are not supposed to act, and even more so, I appreciated how the film avoids overdoing the wolf teamwork to the point where the humor and creativity run bone dry.
- Storks is unable to achieve lift-off mainly because of its scatterbrained story that takes far too many twists and turns. For a little while, the plot focus is strictly on trying to get Diamond Destiny back home. That is until the various, underlying subplots grow in urgency and, at that point, the film is frantically trying to juggle everything that it hopes to accomplish. The film becomes a victim of its own colorful and fast-paced manic, and it is eventually left with no choice but to resolve every conflict in one fell swoop. You can only do so much in 87 minutes.
It lacks any true thematic depth and its story can't seem to make up its mind on what it wants to tell us, but Storks still has enough humor and colorful animation to pass as a pleasing animated experience. The young-lings might enjoy it more than the older crowd, but I'm willing to bet that older folks won't think of it as a waste of time. Good animation isn't regulated by just Pixar and Ghibli. Those two are just so good at what they do that other quality animated works get overshadowed in the process.
Here you'll find my reviews on just about any film you may have seen. I try to avoid major spoilers as much as possible. I structure my reviews in the following way: