by Michael B. Hock
Many of you kids won’t remember this, but back before there was an internet and Google, we all had to ask our parents questions. And sometimes parents didn’t feel like answer that question. It was chaos, but we all managed. My point is, somewhere along the line when kids asked the question “where do babies come from?” and rather than getting into the idea of “special hugging” the answer was “the stork.” Storks brought babies, and we all bought it because the idea of being whisked away from a magical place by a bird who for some reason is also a mascot for pickles made sense.
This idea is the basis for the movie um… Storks. I guess that’s rather aptly named. Storks is about the titular bird who now instead of bringing bundles of joy in the form of babies now bring bundles of joy in the form of items from the fictional Cornerstore.com, a place that’s basically Amazon but I guess they didn’t pay to be in the movie. They do this in lieu of babies, since, as is explained early on, there are so many other ways to get a baby. (giant wink to the camera not available.)
Junior (voiced hilariously by Andy Samberg) is the best delivery Stork currently working the friendly skies. He’s called in by Hunter (Kelsey Grammer,) who tells him that they’re both about to be promoted, so long as there are no major screw ups. That screw up comes in the form of Orphan Tulip (or just Tulip since “orphan” hurts her heart… voiced by Katie Crown) a baby who wasn’t able to be delivered and grew up with the storks. Since she’s 18, it’s Junior’s job to “liberate” her before big stork con. She accidentally ends up making a baby using the magic baby making room with the letter of Nate, a little boy who just wants a baby brother. (spoiler: he gets a sister, but she has the sweet ninja moves he wants).
Storks is a hilarious movie, bringing together Andy Samberg, Key and Peele, Jennifer Aniston, Ty Burell, and others who are out to make a movie that doesn’t quite make a lot of sense, but in the end it doesn’t matter. The jokes are rapid fire, and a lot hinge on the relationship of Junior and Orphan Tulip, who have to work together to deliver the baby despite the fact that Junior his hurt, and they don’t like each other very much. Samberg spends a large portion of this movie basically being Andy Samberg but in Stork form, and it works. Part of the charm of Samberg is that he’s weird for the sake of being weird, he knows it, and he accepts it as part of who he is. Kelsey Grammer also puts on an excellent show, his voice popping in the right places to be a blowhard of a boss.
While it does star those well known actors, some of the best work is done by Katie Crown. Some of the better moments involve her trying to stave off boredom by pretending to be an office full of workers, even getting herself to “cover” for herself while she runs off to run an errand. She also sells Tulip as a character, one who has to perk herself up after being abandoned and being raised by storks. Or birds. The movie isn’t really clear on the whole bird hierarchy, but at one point there’s a pelican, and a very amusing turn by a Pigeon aptly named “Pigeon Toady.”
What really sells the movie is the throwback to the weirder world of cartoons, when things didn’t always have to be sentimental overly realistic. Secret Life of Pets tapped into this a little bit earlier this year, but this seemed to take the concept and run with it, allowing the movie to be more like the old Warner Bros. Cartoons, where something like this would happen. Bugs Bunny would be accidentally delivered to a gorilla, or an elephant baby would be delivered to a family of mice after the stork goes out drinking for a night. The animation reflects that, with bold colors and strange proportions that are just off enough so you know that what you’re watching is supposed to be weird, but you’re enjoying it anyway.
While the movie is fun, the whole “family over things” theme gets a little old fast. The opening with the storks delivering a new phone to a couple waiting their new “bundle of joy” or young Nate finally getting his parents to play with him aren’t used sparingly as they should have. Yes, Nate’s wish for a sibling is what drives the plot, but by the time he’s given the cold hard truth (storks aren’t real) the plot has covered it a few times.
And of course, there’s the requisite “make a baby” pun that wears extremely thin after the fourth or fifth time.
Overall, this is a fun film with a lot of great one liners, some funny recurring bits (There will be a temptation to make a spinoff with the wolfpack. Don’t. They’re hilarious. Don’t.) and some great moments of real heart that make this film worth watching.