These Storks just couldn’t get their job done right
The recently founded Warner Animation Group hit it out of the park with its first release, the joyously zany The Lego Movie, in 2014. The animation division of Warner Bros. has since been busy preparing the many sequels and spin-offs in this prized franchise, two of which – The Lego Batman Movie (2017) and The Lego Ninjago Movie (2017) – are slated to come out next year.
In the meantime, the studio has tried to keep its audience entertained by releasing the lively Storks, an amicable but unexceptional offering that pales in comparison to the significantly more imaginative (and, of course, awesome) Lego masterpiece which won our hearts two years ago.
The film puts a spin on the baby-delivering storks fable, and is set in a world where the birds are no longer in the business of transporting bouncing bundles of joy to their parents. Instead, the storks now deliver packages for the Amazon-esque Internet retailer Cornerstore.com. The company’s top employee is Junior (voiced by Andy Samberg), an ambitious stork who is on his way to earn a top management position in the organisation. All he has to do is fire the clumsy Tulip (Katie Crown), Cornerstone’s only human worker, who has spent her entire life on Stork Mountain because she never made it to her parents as an infant due to a failed delivery. But instead of letting her go, Junior reassigns her to a fake, dead end job, setting off a series of events that lead to the resurrection of the company’s long-dormant infant production unit and the creation of an adorable baby girl.
Afraid that he will lose his promotion if his boss Hunter (Kelsey Grammer) finds out about the production of an unauthorised infant, Junior teams up with Tulip to deliver the child to her parents (Jennifer Aniston and Ty Burrell), a perpetually busy couple whose lonely son (Anton Starkman) had put in the request for a sibling.
Directors Nicholas Stoller and Doug Sweetland have made sure that there is plenty of cuteness on offer here that viewers – especially new parents – will find irresistible. A couple of gags are also quite amusing; two inventive sequences in particular – one revolving around a wolf pack that, akin to lupine Legos, can transform themselves into various vehicles, and the other, an action sequence in which all the participants try to fight quietly so that the sleeping baby doesn’t wake up – stand out. Many of the jokes, however, fall flat. Others are too dull to be memorable.
The movie’s themes and threads are all too familiar. The execution is overly frenetic, and amidst the fast-paced chaos, Storks generally doesn’t try to make sense of its plot or explain the nitty-gritty of its premise. While the film’s Looney Tunes-ish humour seems to be targeting younger viewers, parents should be prepared to field some “where do babies come from?” question from kids who watch the film.
As for the voice cast, Crown delivers the most charming performance, but there isn’t anything particularly remarkable or unforgettable about the rest of the voice acting.
On the whole, Storks is an uneven, at times even lacklustre film. Sure it offers a few fun moments, but ultimately it’s hard to deny that this is a middling, muddled project that can’t hold a candle to the many superior animated features that have preceded it in the last few years.
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