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While people long enjoy the delight of receiving their newborns from the always reliable and trustworthy Stork Mountain baby-delivering service, for the birds, it’s not always the best experience. Airplanes and bad weather are nothing compared to the kids themselves, who don’t always sit so still in their swaddles as the big-beaked bird make their drops. The problem though is profits, at least according to executive Hunter (Kelsey Grammer), the company CEO who decides to shut the operation down and make a shift to a more profitable deal as a parcel delivery instead for Cornerstone.com. And so as the last baby is made and set to be delivered, a giant bird named Jasper (Danny Trejo), accidentally breaks the address device and decides to keep the infant girl for his own.
Skip ahead 18 years and now Cornerstone.com is a huge competitor in the online consumer goods market with the storks making them a gigantic success. Junior (Andy Samberg), the company’s top producing stork, is being groomed for promotion to CEO. To get the job though, Hunter demands he fire Tulip (Katie Crown), the little girl who has grown up with the storks, and whose crazy ideas for improving business always end up costing money. It’s a job he’s not up for, so he convinces her she’s being transferred and is given a menial mail room job so she won’t cause any trouble. Naturally she causes trouble, inadvertently restarting the long-dormant baby-making machine.
As fate would have it, on the surface, just as this is happening, a lonely only child named Nate (Anton Starkman) wishes for a little brother to play with since his parents (voiced by Ty Burrell and Jennifer Aniston) are too busy. The baby machine kinda gets it right, spitting out a pink-haired baby girl and now, Junior and Tulip need to find a way to deliver the infant without Hunter finding out. As Junior’s wing is broken, it’s up to Tulip and her wacky flying inventions to save the day.
Co-directed by Nicholas Stoller and Doug Sweetland, Storks is as expected, though maybe a bit better than that with a surprisingly sweet story and genuine affection for its characters. It’s a fast-paced comedy with a hit-and-miss attitude, full of bright colors and snappy dialogue that works more than it doesn’t. As a misfits-find-their-way story, it finds the right tone and delivers laughs and even some surprising emotions.
That’s achieved by the film’s excellent animation choices, which gives the characters a kind of blocky appearance, ala Pixar’s Up, but it’s the outstanding voice work that really keeps the film effective. A pair of wolves (played by Keegan Michael Key and Jordan Peele) are the real standouts, easily earning the biggest laughs, a combination of great visuals and voice-work. These comedy pros speak at bullet speeds, and their improvised banter is a kick, as are some of the back-and-forth between Samberg and Crown, but too often, the film uses theses as a distraction to fill in the obvious weak spots in the script. The hyper-kinetic pace is a bit exhausting, even if it’s fun to look at. Kudos goes to Stephen Kramer Glickman, however, as Pigeon Toady, Hunter’s lackey who struggles to derail Junior’s plans. The little bird is a riot throughout.
Ultimately, the lunacy and one-liners spreads thin and while the film does slow down a bit for a touching end that flies in unexpectedly, this remains a modest if not enjoyable experience. I won’t say it delivers. That’s just too easy.
Directors: Nicholas Stoller, Doug Sweetland
Writer: Nicholas Stoller
Stars: Andy Samberg, Katie Crown, Kelsey Grammer, Stephen Kramer Glickma, Keegan Michael Key, Jordan Peele, Jennifer Anniston
Genre: Animation, Adventure