Having delivered babies for many years, storks - led by Hunter (Kelsey Grammer) - have migrated from their old duties to delivering for Cornerstore.com, a one-stop shop for just about everything online. Junior (Andy Samberg) is lined up to take over from Hunter, but when a baby arrives on site, he and his colleague Tulip (Katie Crown) have to get it to the Gardners (Ty Burrell, Jennifer Aniston) before anyone finds out.
Since the likes of Toy Story and Pixar, most animated films have been concerned with telling an underlying story and using the format for a much broader tale. The Toy Story Trilogy was about growing up and accepting adulthood. Finding Dory was about being a parent of a disabled child. Kubo And The Two Strings was about accepting and understanding grief at a young age. While these animated films have had fun moments, there is that underlying seriousness to them and you can sometimes forget that animated films weren't always so serious. In fact, they used to be cartoons.
This is where Nicholas Stoller's Storks comes in, reminding us that animation can be daft and make absolutely no sense, a lot like the Looney Tunes of yesteryear. Almost immediately, Kelsey Grammer and Andy Samberg - through their characters, Hunter and Junior - acknowledge the fact that there are much easier and more fun ways to have babies, which takes the real world out of the equation and lets you enjoy the film for what it is. Bringing in Tulip, a young baby who was left behind by a rogue stork who didn't want to deliver the baby to its family, make give it an emotional core, but it's not the centre of the film. The story flicks back to the Gardners, a one-child family of Ty Burrell, Jennifer Aniston and Anton Starkman that wants to expand and are the family of the baby that Junior and Tulip have to deliver. It's here where the film falters because the characters aren't developed enough for us to care. The boy just wants to spend more time with his parents and comes up with a landing pad for the storks on top of the house in an attempt to get their attention.
What saves the film is the wacky and bizarre characters Junior and Tulip meet along the way, chief among them is a pack of wolves led by comedy duo Key & Peele. They're able to take on the form of various modes of transport - including a submarine at one point - and form much of the comedy in the film. Kelsey Grammer's commanding baritone also comes in handy for describing the whole situation in a completely po-faced manner, which makes it all the more funny. It's a shame that Ty Burrell and Jennifer Anniston - two incredibly funny actors - weren't given a chance in the script to do something with their talens, but the truth is their story is the weakest.
The animation is bright, quick and fluid and Stoller really does have a handle on sight gags, a lot like the old-school Warner Bros. cartoons of old. The film zips along at a steady pace and never allows the dust to settle too long on any one scene, but the fact that it tries to crowbar in a half-baked emotional story about a child trying to get its parents' attention detracts from what should have been a straightforward cartoon comedy. Still, there's a lot to like about Storks and it has some genuinely funny moments throughout.
Worth a watch and, no, you won't have to have the talk with the kids afterwards.
Review by Brian Lloyd | 14:28 | Saturday 15th October 2016 | Movie Review