There used to be very different expectations for animated films. Thanks to the likes of Pixar, Dreamworks and even Studio Ghibli have made them movies not just for kids, but the whole family. And really before they came along, only Disney made animated films we could all enjoy. OK, so Don Bluth just after he left Disney and Warner Bros made the odd great, but was stuff kids would enjoy, but adults had to stay clear of if they had to keep their sanity. But is this animated film Storks a sign of the new animation order or a sign of the old style?
In the past, storks used to deliver parents to babies. Nowadays, they have moved on from that and now deliver products for a company called CornerStore.com. However when Junior (Andy Samberg, Brooklyn Nine-Nine) sends Tulip (Katie Crown, Adventure Time) to the old letter sorting department, she accidentally activates the old baby making machine which ends up making one tot. In order to make sure their boss Hunter (Kelsey Grammar, Cheers) never finds out, they try to deliver the baby to its new home.
So this film is part of Warner Bros continuing attempts at coming back. After making many great shows and shorts back in the day, it seemed like they were going to be a proper challenger to Disney by releasing films and to be quite frank they bettered a lot of Disney’s efforts when they made The Iron Giant. Then they released Osmosis Jones and Looney Tunes: Back In Action back to back and that was that. But with The LEGO Movie being brilliant, they now have a platform to become a great studio once again. And as you’d expect, this brings over a lot of what made that film a success. There’s quite a few jokes aimed at modern culture, very quick fire jokes and a surprising touch of emotion. But does all of this work again?
Well there are two main jokes at modern culture in this film, and firstly there’s the big Amazon parody. And yes, if you can’t tell that CornerStore.com is an obvious Amazon parody, you probably need to order a brain cell from them so you can have a pair to rub together. Unfortunately, other than being incredibly obvious, they don’t really do much with it. It’s just an obvious parody without the jokes go with it, which is just a huge waste as I’m sure good writers could get good material out of this.
The other joke they make at modern culture is about how busy parents are with their business, with there being a sub-story about the new parents of the baby Sarah (Jennifer Aniston, Friends) and Henry (Ty Burrell, Modern Family) coping with their current son Nate’s (Anton Starkman, American Horror Story) wish for a baby brother, a baby brother that has ninja skills of course. The parents being so obsessed with their garden business gets a few decent chuckles, but later on in the film this gets completely forgotten about. The complete flimsiness of this sub plot is the worst part of the film because later on the jokes are incredibly week and the character motivations so rushed it hasn’t got the emotional resonance it so clearly wants to have.
And so there’s the quickfire humor. This sort of thing usually sets off the alarm bells as it’s often used by poor writers as the jokes can come so fast that you miss the bad jokes because you are still laughing at the time they got lucky and did a good line. And here, there are some good lines and some funny set pieces. Honestly, I was laughing like a drain at how the wolves could work as a team to literally become a bridge, a boat and of course a mini van. Andy Samberg is also a credit to the film because he is brilliant at off the cuff quickfire lines, as he shows here. But there are a lot of weak jokes here and when the film goes on a streak of them, it’s very obvious and it feels as if a cricket should be chirping at times.
And while both Junior the stork and Tulip, the last baby to be made by the storks and the reason why they no longer deliver little tots, have a very good comedic rapport it doesn’t have the emotional core that the film wants. The film does have quieter moments to build the relationship to the two and I can’t say they are bad, they just aren’t good enough to make us really care when they have the inevitable break up and when they then get back together. And as I’ve mentioned before, the complete rush job and 180 turns the characters do in the sub plot mean it is a complete wash.
If Storks was made in the nineties or eighties, it would probably be more highly regarded than it is now. After all, it provides plenty of entertainment for kids and I’m sure if you are under the age of 13, you will lap this up and probably watch this a few times and repeat some of the jokes to your parents annoyance. But with so many other animated films raising the bar to what movies in this medium can do, it does pale in comparison to some of the films that have been released this year. Not terrible, but not particularly great either. Storks is largely unmemorable.