Saturday, 24 September 2016

Storks

(G) ****

Director: Nicholas Stoller & Doug Sweetland.

Cast: (voices of) Andy Samberg, Katie Crown, Kelsey Grammer, Anton Starkman, Keegan-Michael Key, Jordan Peele, Jennifer Aniston, Ty Burrell, Danny Trejo, Stephen Kramer Glickman.

Parenting: not for the birds.

DO parents still tell their children that babies come from storks? I thought that changed to cabbage patches back in the ‘80s. And wouldn’t there be a more modern update involving the internet or something by now?

Either way, the old lie about storks delivering babies is at the centre of this surprisingly enjoyable CG animation from Warner Bros Animation, who appear to be back in the game thanks to The Lego Movie, which ended a decade-long drought from the former cartoon powerhouse.

Storks captures a similar vibe to The Lego Movie, offering the same brand of over-the-top self-aware humour, but without being as stylised or inventive. It’s just good old-fashioned fun with a new twist.

The starring stork is Junior (Samberg), a hotshot deliverer in the rebranded stork enterprise of Cornerstore.com, where they now deliver packages instead of babies.

Junior’s future as boss of the business is assured so long as he can get rid of the clumsy and troublesome Orphan Tulip (Crown), a well-meaning human who works in the Cornerstore warehouse, having been the last undelivered baby before the storks found their new purpose.

Unable to bring himself to fire Tulip, Junior instead finds a pointless job for her in the old baby factory, where she inadvertently “makes a baby” after receiving a letter from a young boy (Starkman) who is desperate for a brother.

With his job on the line, Junior is forced to team up with Tulip to deliver the baby before it is discovered and they get fired.


The premise is fun and modern and the plot dives into the world of storks with enthusiasm and intelligence. Right from the get-go, it sets up its sense of humour and you are either onboard or not. Samberg’s goofy charm is not to all tastes and when married with the exuberant zaniness of the comedy it could be off-putting to a lot of grown-ups.

But Storks will win you over. It’s absurdities pile on, one after the other – best examples are a pursuing wolf pack capable of some insanely complicated manoeuvres and an hilariously silent battle with some penguins – to the point where you just have to laugh, so you may as well embrace it as early as you can. Similarly, an important side character called Pigeon Toady (Kramer Glickman) is an utterly bizarre creation who becomes increasingly hilarious as the action progresses.

The film is also filled with pratfalls and visual gags, which the kids will love – in fact, the film’s broad humour is a large part of its all-ages appeal and it goes out of its way to impress and get a giggle out of every demographic.

Digging beneath the silliness, you'll also find a charming amount of heart rooted into the themes of family. Tulip, Junior and their baby form an unconventional unit that offers some knowing winks to the pains (and joys) of parenthood, while Nick and his workaholic parents (Aniston and Burrell) are a ‘conventional’ family that struggles with its own issues. Along the way, the character arcs are convincing, and by the end the whole thing bubbles over with a whole bunch of warm and fuzzy feelings (and more cute CG babies than you can poke a pacifier at).

Storks is disarmingly good fun, undeniably absurd, and surprisingly thoughtful in its look at what makes a family tick.

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