Many thoughts were swirling around my head as I was watching “Storks”. The opening montage reminded me of the stork delivering baby Dumbo to Mrs. Jumbo in that Disney classic. Hearing Kelsey Grammer as the voice of the stork delivery company boss made me think of his role on the TV drama, “Boss”. I enjoyed Ty Burrell’s voice work as a dad who’s a realtor because he plays realtor Phil Dunphy on “Modern Family”.
When a pigeon broke-out into song with “How You Like Me Now?”, I thought of how much I dislike random, completely unnecessary musical numbers that pop-up in the middle of stories (maybe that’s why I never got into “Glee”). And as a rogue stork and bumbling human girl were taking part in their quest of delivering a new baby to her parents, I realized that the crime “Endangering the Welfare of a Child” has never applied more to an animated film than it does with “Storks”. This movie is also guilty of “Endangering the Sanity of an Audience”.
Such frenetic, scatterbrained thinking is exactly what went into the creation and execution of “Storks”, which can be summed-up in two words: Sensory Overload.
The concept is cute and had SO MUCH potential. At the start of the film we learn that the traditional stork baby delivery service ended 18 years ago (I must have been one of the last stork deliveries) and was converted into the package delivery business. So storks now ship cell phones, books, etc. all purchased on the website, Cornerstore.com. A couple things worth noting: There is an actual Cornerstore.com, though it, interestingly, has no ties to “Storks” whatsoever. And – in case you were concerned – a form of the U.S. Postal Service still exists in the movie, though UPS and FedEx do not.
A boy named Nate writes a letter to the Storks asking for a baby brother. His parents, a workaholic real estate team voiced by Burrell and Jennifer Aniston, don’t want to tell him that babies don’t come from storks (anymore). When the letter arrives, one of the head storks, Junior (voiced by Andy Samberg, with simply his normal, Andy Samberg voice) and a human orphan girl, Tulip (Katie Crown) see it get processed into the old factory system. Once the baby is “born”, Junior and Tulip make it their task to deliver the infant to her new family without anyone else finding out. Of course, keeping a new baby a secret is impossible to do.
In true Warner Bros. tradition “Storks” is looney. Not only is it extremely fast-paced and frantic, but it’s very reminiscent of WB’s classic “Looney Tunes” in pace and energy. That iconic cast of characters, writers and animators made that style work – in small doses. It doesn’t work at all in “Storks”. My head was spinning after the first five minutes, and there’s hardly any let-up over the next 85.
Director Nicholas Stoller, of “Forgetting Sarah Marshall” and “Neighbors”, also incorporates way too many ridiculous references and forced ad-lib dialogue, with characters constantly yelling over each other, while, at the same time, flying, running and smashing into things. And, if that’s not enough zaniness, Key & Peele voice the leaders of wolfpack that transforms itself into a bridge, submarine and minivan. Just bizarre. And there’s that pigeon mentioned earlier qualifies as the most obnoxious animated movie character of 2016.
Also – a small point: Nate asks for a brother, and the baby “produced” from his letter is a girl. Maybe this was commentary on how real delivery services sometimes screw-up orders? Or, it was just sloppy filmmaking.
If there’s an ideal audience for “Storks”, you’d think it’d be young kids. But parents – be warned: With so much going on, they’ll be overwhelmed rather than entertained. I was mostly frustrated. There are a few well-handled, quiet scenes that prevent “Storks” from being a total disaster. But, overall, the wild, uncontrolled style engulfs the core concept, resulting in a package that, frankly, you’d be better-off not opening.
On The Official LCJ Report Card, “Storks” gets a D+.
Running Time: 87 min.