Storks review: Flying High

Chad White

Loves: Andy Samberg, Nicholas Stoller, Danny Trejo
Likes: WB Animation, Kelsey Grammer, a great script
Dislikes: Jumbled third acts
Hates: Pidgeon Toady

Just Tulip is fine. “Orphan” hurts my heart.

Tales of olde often refer to storks as the bringers of babies. But what happens when the storks become a pseudo-Amazon service? How do babies get made? This question is never answered in Warner Bros. new animated film, Storks. But the script from Nicholas Stoller and performances from the cast make rhetorical questions like the one above obsolete. This movie is better than the shortage of ads suggests. If anything, it’s a cute distraction until the next three LEGO universe films are released.

Storks follows Andy Samberg’s Junior who is tasked with firing the orphaned, ultra-quirky Tulip (Katie Crown) at the aforementioned Amazon-esque cornerstore.com warehouse. Upon the firing, he is primed to take the boss position from the obviously villainous Hunter (Kelsey Grammer). But then Tulip accidentally makes a baby in the derlict baby making factory (that should’ve been destroyed in order to avoid this whole mess) so she and Junior must deliver the child before his promotion. However, the two are hindered by wolves (led by the always hilarious Jordan Peele and Keegan-Michael Key), annoying co-worker Pidgeon Toady (the miscast, misvoiced Stephen Kramer Glickman) and – the worst of them all – letting their emotions turn them into a familial unit.

The movie, in short, is charming. Even the darkest of hearts should enjoy the fun that this short movie will bring. Director/writer/producer Stoller makes great work and utilization of the cast. Samberg’s Junior delivers lines as if the real actor were on screen. Crown’s Tulip might even excel above her co-star with her performance. She’s frenetic, adorable and pointed all at the same time. She’s given a lot to do here and it all works on such a level that not even other characters in competing movies stand up to her. Grammer, of course, is menacing as the boss/villain and his voice is used much like The Simpsons would do (a repeated exaggeration of the “bo” part of boss is one such highlight. On the other hand, Pidgeon Toady is 100% garbage. The character has irritating voice notes and his lines don’t help. Not much time should be spent on him but, needless to say, he was the worst part of the entire movie.

While the writing shined, direction from Stoller and Doug Sweetland was just as good. In a scene that followed the two main characters escaping the wolves, the camera catches the action and intensity of a chase as the four legged creatures use their Transformer/Wonder Twin-like capabilities to take form of several vehicles. And the subsequent quiet moment, even, that has Junior and Tulip trying to get the baby to sleep features a slightly moving camera, evoking an intimate feeling. The movement is subtle but the non-static life of the camera adds to immersion.

Even while the jokes move quickly (see my notes), the story is bare minimum. There are a few story lines working against each other. Junior and Tulips section is obviuously the A-plot. But then there’s a B-story about a young boy, Nate (Anton Starkaman), who wants a brother (the baby that Junior and Tulip are delivering) because his parents (the forever cartoon casted Ty Burrell and odd choice Jennifer Aniston) are too busy to play with him. Eventually, he wears them down one by one as they rapidly expect the delivery of the new baby from the previously defunct stork delivery service. There’s a lot of gut wrenching stuff that happens in the third act (of course Tulip gets a chance to meet her family and Nate learns he might not get the baby) but the story lines get muddied when everyone gets their own family unit roots. And there’s a C-story with Pidgeon Toady but the less said about him, the better.

Should you watch Storks?

While I’m just now realizing the name isn’t as imaginative as the movie (Illumination’s karaoke movie Sing which comes out on Christmas takes the whole terrible name cake), Storks is a lot of fun. When the stories try to intersect, it gets to be a bit of a slog but all in all it’s funny. That’s what these cartoon movies should be too. Secret Life of Pets, the other new animated movie that’s not a sequel, had heart; this has soul. Both end in incredibly clichéd ways but both times it got me. Warner Bros. Animation may not be the stalwarts that Pixar and Disney are but they did a good job with this one.

 

Notes

  • LEGO Movie producers Chris Miller and Phil Lord were EP’s for this one. WB must love those guys.
  • So many great jokes here. So many. My favorite has to be the sub lead to the review though. When Crown delivered that line, I was in stiches.
  • I wrote above about jokes possibly being too fast. There was a small child (young but able to walk and talk and maybe eat alone. I don’t know ages, guys) that continually asked “What’s happening?” Maybe they’re too dumb to understand or maybe the script was too sophisticated. I don’t know. I did hear parents laugh louder than kids.
  • Also, going to these movies alone never gets less weird.
  • At first, I thought Samberg’s character didn’t match his voice. As the movie went on, I was right. But his delivery makes up for the plain Jane nature of the character.
  • Fuck Pidgeon Toady.
  • Nick Stoller did Neighbors 2, Zoolander 2, and co-created The Carmichael Show. He’s a busy boy. And he’s doing the Captain Underpants movie that I’m hesitant about. Doug Sweetland is a Disney short master. He’ll be directing by himself very soon.
  • Jennifer Aniston was a weird get for an animated movie. She was cast this past June which is late but she did a good job playing off of what I assume is Ty Burrell from a few months prior.
  • Extra storks include Ike Barinholtz, Jorma Taccone and Amanda Fun Buns Lund. Love them all.