Movie Review: Storks

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Years after storks have stopped delivering babies, an order for a baby is sent to a stork factory, leading an orphaned girl and a rogue stork to attempt to fill the order and deliver the new baby to her rightful home.

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Nicholas Stoller & Doug Sweetland, 2016

It’s been 18 years since Cornerstore Deliveries stopped delivering babies. Thanks to dwindling profits, big boss stork Hunter (Kelsey Grammar) turned off the baby-making machine for good, and the storks employed at Cornerstore now stick to more traditional deliveries. The last baby made at Cornerstore was Tulip (Katie Crown), a clumsy redhead whose homing beacon was destroyed and who could not be delivered to her family. The orphan was then raised at Cornerstore, alongside stork Junior (Andy Samberg), who is now the top salesman at the company. A true company man, Junior is excited to get a promotion – but instead of firing the well-meaning Tulip, as he’s meant to, he ends up transferring her to the mail department, where she discovers one very valuable letter. Nate Gardner (Anton Starkman) is a neglected little boy whose workaholic parents have little time to play with him, so he writes a letter requesting a new sibling. Tulip accidentally makes the requested adorable pink-haired baby, and she and Junior must team up to deliver the baby to her new family without being discovered – but company man Pigeon Toady (Stephen Kramer Glickman) is right on their tail.

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When I was looking at my list of movies to review, there was a moment when I honestly didn’t remember even seeing Storks. Granted, I was working when I watched the movie and that takes a chunk of my attention – but I think it says something that this movie left so little impression that I momentarily couldn’t remember having seen it at all. While there are definitely some fun concepts in this film – the former baby-delivering service is a fun conceit, and there are moments of genuine inspiration in the idea behind some of the jokes – this hyperactive, brightly coloured confection of a movie feels like a child is making it up as it goes along. This tactic works surprisingly well on its target audience, but any accompanying adults are going to struggle with finding something to enjoy in the film. The strongest emotional moments for parents might actually be the scenes that show the struggles of parenting – Tulip and Junior caring for Diamond Destiny when she cries all night, Nate’s parents struggling to balance work and family. The way that Nate’s parents get caught up in his imagination and turn their whole house upside-down just because they’re having fun has some lovely moments, though it does tend to fall into some gender stereotypes that frustrate.

The jokes are hit and miss. A lot of the miss comes from a lack of connection between Tulip and Junior; there’s something amiss in the writing or the performances that just make it feel like they aren’t friends. The concept that they’re “family” never rings true, even in the final moments. Tulip in particular is more of a collection of quirks than a character, while Junior feels much more fleshed out and real. Katie Crown gives Tulip all the gusto she’s got, and in some moments it shines through – Tulip talking to herself in the guise of multiple characters is funny – but it falls apart when the plot picks up. Most of the film’s highlights come from side characters; the wolf pack (featuring comic geniuses Key and Peele) provides a lot of belly laughs, forming a variety of different objects by linking their bodies together. There’s a surreal quality to those kinds of jokes and the “Junior can’t see glass” jokes that I enjoyed. Pigeon Toady, on the other hand, is the most irritating and unfunny character I’ve had the misfortune to see in a while, second only to Sid in Ice Age. There are definitely worse family movies to see, and kids enjoy the fast-paced brightly animated fun, but it’s not a movie that sticks with you.

Storks on IMDb

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