Storks have gotten out of the baby business, and now deliver for an online shop called CornerStore.com. It’s a large corporation with a large container-like warehouse teetering on some kind of support up in the clouds.
Andy Samberg is Junior, a likeable underling called into the office of his boss, Hunter, a
great big alpha type, played by Kelsey Grammer. For reasons that are never quite clear, as long as Junior can keep his nose clean until Monday, he will become the boss. Of course, this tension provides the backdrop for all the hijinks to follow. Junior’s first task to prove his mettle is to fire Orphan Tulip, a human who has grown up in the factory with the storks because an error when she was born made it impossible to deliver her to the right family.
Meanwhile, in some distant family home with a white picket fence, little Nate Gardner (Anton Starkman) is the lonely only child of two real estate agents (“Because every home needs a Gardner.”) He writes a letter asking for a stork to deliver him a new baby brother. With ninja skills, of course.
Let’s forget for a moment that writing letters to storks to ask for babies isn’t really a thing. The letter makes its way to stork headquarters. Wouldn’t you know it, the machine that neatly creates babies and pushes them out on a conveyor belt all cute and fully formed is still connected. Because Junior is a nice guy, rather than fire Tulip, he assigns her to the mail department where – oopsy daisy – she puts the letter in the wrong machine and a baby comes out. Can they get the baby delivered without Hunter finding out and ruining Junior’s chances of promotion?
There are a few flashes of the Andy Samberg delivery we’ve come to expect from Saturday Night Live and The Lonely Island, but thankfully that’s never distracting. Two of the standout performances are from relative unkonwns who work mostly as voice actors. Katie Crown as Tulip is pleasant, and Stephen Kramer Glickman is funny as Pigeon Toady, a sycophant who spends the movie trying to ingratiate himself with the boss while sabotaging Junior. And, they only have bit parts but Keegan-Michael Key and Jordan Peele (known for their show, Key and Peele, and their movie Keanu) get most of the laughs in the movie in their few scenes as two competing wolves who lead a bumbling wolf pack our heroes encounter.
The movie is produced by Warner Animation Group and the animation looks pretty good. I saw it in 3D, which didn’t really add much, but didn’t take anything away either. What differentiates this from some of the great Pixar movies is not the animation; it’s the superficial depth of the characters and the logical leaps required for the plot to make sense.
Storks is a kids movie, but with some darkness and serious questions just under the surface that never get addressed. Tulip says early on the nickname Orphan Tulip hurts her heart, but that’s the only indication growing up without a family has been painful for her. Eventually we see a pile of stork letters asking for babies that are sitting abandoned because they’ve gotten out of the business. Are these unanswered prayers? Why would the baby machinery just sit there all hooked up, still plugged in, ready to accidentally make a baby at the press of a button.
And of course the most awkward question of all, especially for a kids movie:If storks don’t make babies, then where DO babies come from? If you’re taking a kid to see this movie, be ready to have that conversation on the way home.
|Director||Nicholas Stoller, Doug Sweetland|
|Starring||Andy Samberg, Katie Crown, Kelsey Grammer|
|Production||RatPac-Dune Entertainment, Stoller Global Solutions, D, Warner Animation Group, Warner Bros. Animation|