“Storks” is filled with sweet and funny moments, but it has two teensy weensy (read: massive) problems: a lot of the funny bits are stolen, and there is no story. Like, at all. It’s actually kind of impressive how far out of his way screenwriter Nicholas Stoller went to not come up with a coherent story, and then you remember that he’s written some funny movies that had a story (the two most recent Muppets films, for starters), and that’s when the feeling of being cheated sets in.
Storks have gotten out of the business of delivering babies in favor of an Amazon-type model, and Junior (Andy Samberg) is the star delivery stork. Boss stork Hunter (Kelsey Grammer) is being promoted, and would like Junior to take his place. But first, Junior must “liberate” the accidental troublemaker and newly-18-year-old Tulip (Katie Crown), a girl whose delivery instructions were lost, and has remained with the storks. Junior instead assigns her to the now-dormant mail room, expecting her to not be able to break anything, until she receives a letter from Nate (Anton Starkman), a bored single child to workaholic parents who wants a little brother. Tulip sends the letter to the wrong machine, and a baby – somehow – is born. Junior, knowing that he’ll lose the promotion if Hunter discovers what has happened, teams up with Tulip to deliver the baby.
This is the part where you ask why star delivery stork Junior needs Tulip’s help in delivering the baby, because that is a fair and reasonable question to ask. The answer is that the machine that makes the babies is equipped with an emergency stop button that is only reachable by sticking one’s arm (or wing) into a set of gears straight out of a “Saw” movie. In pushing the button, Junior hurts his wing, and cannot fly. It’s funny on the surface (Junior is willing to risk mutilation in order to hide his secret), but it doesn’t make any sense, because no company would ever install a gore trap like that on one of their machines. This was the best idea that Stoller could come up with to get the story to the next level. That is ridiculously lazy.
Junior and Tulip then run into a pack of wolves led by Keegan-Michael Key and Jordan Peele, who steal steal the movie without breaking a sweat. Their bits are gold, though the bit that most kids will quote is shamelessly stolen from a Saturday morning cartoon that their parents know all too well. There is also a pigeon whose name, no joke, is Pigeon Toady, and Toady has a funny bit too, but it uses a song that has been used several times before in films and commercials. Again, the bit is good, but it’s also a day late and a dollar short.
And that is the biggest problem with “Storks”: everyone has a vested interest in making something that will make them a lot of money, but there doesn’t seem to be a lot of concern about how well the film will age. If this movie weren’t filled with such adorable babies, and the feeling of love that everyone in the movie has for them, this would be the worst animated film to come down the pipe in a while. As it is, it’s on par with how animated films used to be before Pixar came along and dared to raise the bar. Everyone involved with this film has something better than this on their resume.(2.5 / 5)
This review originally ran September 22, 2016 on Bullz-Eye.com.