I know it isn’t fair to judge a book by its cover, or, a movie by the cover image. But this one in particular might have you internally screaming in distaste, with all sirens telling you to put it back on the shelf with haste. But every now and then, you may be putting away a bit of a hidden gem. And “Storks” may well be one of those rarities.
Released by (yay?) Warner Brothers Animation, and directed by (woo?) Nicholas Stoller and Doug Sweetland, this almost hearkens back to the old days of Warner animated films. The premise is that the storks, after a long time delivering babies, have given up on it and instead deliver packages in a FedEx fashion. One thing leading to another has a baby accidentally (made?), with our two unlikely heroes taking it upon themselves to make the delivery.
Now, you may be wondering why I decided to write the premise in such an awful fashion, and….. yeah, my bad. To be honest, the set up is a bit convoluted and going into all the details would ruin the first thirty minutes of the film for you. Hence, crappy synopsis.
But really, that’s not too important since you’ll latch onto the story pretty easily, it’s just that the pace of this damm thing is ferocous, it flies along at Mach 2 with you hanging on by your fingertips. Not to put you off, it does this in a comical way, spinning the dialogue and visual gags to be sharp and snappy. And I have to say, from the start I was being blown away by how well they all landed.
It is here where it was reminding me of Warner animated features of old, where the writing is manic, but well thought through in order to give laughs for kids and older folk. It never ceases to have something fun and interesting to do or say, if one doesn’t land for you, the next few will. Take “Arthur Christmas” and “The LEGO Movie” and that is the style you’ll see here.
The characters include the stork Junior (Andy Samberg, who has been promised a promotion to *deep breath* BOOOOSSSSSSS if he can fire the orphan child Tulip (Katy Crown). Voice work-wise, they are excellent fun, making their co op jokes hit the mark, as well as keeping the friendship at this cast-aside, no fucks given approach. They’re a great duo for a movie to have. Support voice work is provided by the likes of Kelsey Grammer, Danny Trejo, Jennifer Aniston, and Ty Burrell. Nothing crazy, but a good cast.
The animation is also not crazy, you won’t be marvelling at the details or landscapes. Honestly, the pace is so ridiculous that those details would have been wasted. But for the $70 million budget, they made it look totally fine, I didn’t have any major complaints to offer. The colour range is nice and vibrant, the lighting is acceptable, and there’s enough on screen to keep the young ones happy.
What made this awaken me from my pre-arranged slumber and start taking notice was as said, the humour. It completely hit me off guard, and for the first 40 minutes or so, keeps exceeding that limit until I was pretty much giddy with joy. I mean as an example (and for those who have seen it already), the wolf pack is such an unexpected riot of crazy antics. They take one bonkers idea, and then keep amping it up to the point where I was having a hard time laughing properly. Even that ridiculous Pidgeon, which in any other film would have been designed to infuriate you, had me laughing at how unaware and uncaring he was of his stupidity.
By the hour mark, the film hits the final act, and I feel that their focus to give a finale meant the humour started to dip. It never quite reached the same levels again (except for the Penguin fight scene), and the ultimate resolution for the bad guy wasn’t very satisfactory. I was left saying “Wait, that’s it?” and scratching my head at why they didn’t have a better idea to run with. It was disappointing for a movie that up until then, had been an Adrenalin rush of giggles and surprises.
But the very end concluded everything on good terms, and once the credits had started rolling, I was amazed upon reflection at how good this little movie had turned out to be. Sure, the story was pretty basic in the core elements (unlikely duo, mistaken thing happens, must reach destination, hi jinks ensue), and the last twenty minutes were a bit flat.
But fr=or something that gave off the air of total tedium, “Storks” blew me away. It is mesmorisingly insane and brimming with charisma, and, the sheer love of totally free writing. The tam behind this took a throw-away idea, and formed a little nugget of unforeseen gold out of it. It may not dazzle the animation world or fill a shelf with awards, but I can see this being a little favourite of mine to re-watch again in the future.
Thanks for reading!