Storks delivers loud laughs and feather-brained follies
Storks follows a tried and tested kids’ movie formula.You know the one: animated animals voiced by celebrities get into crazy shenanigans set to loud pop music. And it’s not that this is a bad formula – it’s spawned some really great and highly successful movies recently (Zootropolis and The Secret Life of Pets). But once the summer holidays are over, and we’ve had our fill of family friendly animations for the year it starts to get a little old. And that’s a little bit of a problem with Storks – it’s a good animated comedy that’s got the usual blend of bright colours and funny kid-friendly characters and adult-friendly jokes; but we’ve seen it all before. All that being said, Storks is a zany and mostly entertaining romp that children should enjoy.Andy Samberg voices Junior, a stork up for promotion at Cornerstore.com (read: Amazon parody). Cornerstore has long ceased delivering babies, and now delivers consumer goods around the globe. In order to get his promotion, Junior is tasked with firing 18-year-old human Tulip, who’s been an honorary stork ever since a rare delivery mishap. Naturally, what follows is a series of high-speed comical escapades as the storks try to get back to their roots – you know, delivering babies. The winged midwives encounter humans, wolves, penguins and pigeons along the way, and the various characters are voiced by an all-star cast including Kelsey Grammar, Jennifer Aniston and Ty Burrell.
The film’s plot is pretty complex and convoluted for an animated film aimed at children, and the narrative moves at a lightning-fast pace. Storks isn’t quite as deep as Zootropolis, quite as cute as The Secret Life of Pets or quite as hilarious as The Lego Movie. There are some really great scenes with fun characters (scene-stealing penguins) that will keep the kids entertained, while the central joke that’s really just for adults (that babies are delivered by storks) will get you at least a few good chuckles.
Being directed by Forgetting Sarah Marshall’s Nicholas Stoller, Storks was never going to a pure-kids’ movie, and there are some snippy lines of dialogue and clever jokes that will sail right over the little ones’ heads. It’s a really clever concept and a wild and unpredictable movie that’s just a tad too complicated and not quite in-your-face-funny enough.
At times it feels like Storks is battling between throwing itself fully into being an animated adventure for kids, and getting enough grown-up content in to stop Mum and Dad yawning. This dichotomy is best shown in the B-plotline involving Ty Burrell and Jennifer Aniston’s characters. Henry and Sarah Gardner are workaholics, whose son Nate (voiced by Anton Starkman) sends a letter requesting a baby brother to Cornerstore and sets the whole plot in motion. It’ll be poignant viewing for parents, but kids will only be interested in the zany storks that follow.
Storks is a zany and mostly entertaining romp that children should enjoy
There are a few moments like this, which give the impression that the film is really geared quite a bit towards the adults in the audience. Nate says things like “you blink, and I’ll be in college”, which I don’t imagine will get a huge reaction from kids. Storks has the bright colours, crazy characters and amusing set pieces (acrobatic wolves are a crowd pleaser), but it’s also got a ton of dialogue aimed squarely at the parents in the audience.
It’s not the best animated movie you’ll see – it’s not even the best animated movie this year – but it does the job. At times the plot feels too complex for this kind of film, but enthusiastic voice acting from Samberg and co. keep things zany enough to amuse the children in the audience. Above all, the idea that storks manufacture and deliver babies, hot off the press, to expectant patients is always going to be amusing. But try as it might, even with a clever concept, this film doesn’t really soar the way you’d expect a bird-powered film to, and despite the star-power behind those characters, it’s unlikely you’ll be raving about this avian bundle of joy for years to come: it’s fine, but it lacks the coherence, clarity and cutting humour of some of its animated contemporaries, and the complicated plot, for a kids’ film, is just too labour intensive – even if it is a film about delivering babies.
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