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I wrote to the storks with a simple request,
A baby, just one, and I wanted the best.
I wanted him perfect, no colic or crying
Or being a pest by not always complying.
And potty-trained too, with no changing a diaper,
And energy neither too boring or hyper.
And give him a lovable heart of pure gold,
To love me, respect me, and care when I’m old.
So when there’s a well-behaved angel on earth
In stock, send at once. (So much simpler than birth!)

And what did those long-necking lummoxes send
But a baby like so many others to tend?!
Since he first arrived, he’s incessantly cried
And stunk before I even brought him inside.
And all the bird left me was this little note:
“We’ve tried to match most of the wishes you wrote.
But you should just know that the son you desired
Has years of hard work of assembly required.”
____________________

MPAA rating: PG

Storks didn’t look all that impressive when it came out last year, just another maverick animated film struggling to reach even DreamWorks quality. When I actually gave it a chance, though, it turned out to be a pleasant surprise, more humorous and heartwarming than I would have guessed, and a solid if hyperactive cartoon that the Warner Animation Group (who also produced The Lego Movie) can be proud of.

There’s no denying that the premise of Storks is a bit gonzo, making an entire, half-baked plot out of the myth of storks delivering babies, which I can only assume was invented so parents could appease their kids’ curiosity without broaching the birds-and-bees speech. In this world, storks have switched from baby delivery to package delivery (after all, someone says, “there are other ways of making babies”), after an incident left them unable to deliver young Tulip to her family. Tulip (Katie Crown) grows up as a ward of the storks’ Amazon-like company called Cornerstore.com, and, after she impetuously activates the abandoned baby factory and creates a little girl, she and the corporate ladder-climbing Junior (Andy Samberg) try to deliver the baby to her family without alerting their authoritarian boss Hunter (Kelsey Grammer).

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The storyline is loose and frenetic, with enough rapid-fire jokes that the plot often seems like just an excuse to string together random gags. The upside is that many of these gags are actually funny, particularly a baby-loving pack of wolves who somehow manage to morph themselves into vehicles to give chase. While the action draws inspiration from the likes of Monsters, Inc. and Shark Tale, the constant jokes keep it fresh, and things move along at a pleasant clip. Most of the voice actors do good work as well, especially Katie Crown, whose exuberance makes Tulip a lovably upbeat character. The animation is also quite good, easier on the eyes than the hyper-detail of The Lego Movie and occasionally stunning with the bigger set pieces.

That being said, there’s bound to be a joke or two along the way that falls flat, and some do. The worst, though, is the character of an attention-seeking pigeon (Stephen Kramer Glickman) who tries desperately to be integral to the plot, such that the writers obviously thought he was hilarious. Yet his awkwardness is so aggressively unfunny that it drags the film down every time he appears onscreen. If ever there was a side character that needed to be rewritten or cut altogether, it’s the pigeon.

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Overall, though, Storks was a fun watch with some surprising heart. Despite the innate weirdness of the whole storks-making-babies thing, there are some touching moments and themes, like the value of spending time as a family and achieving a sense of belonging, with some familiar overtones of Meet the Robinsons thrown in. In addition, I liked that there was a subtle, though probably unintentional, pro-life sentiment in how Hunter and Junior refer to the infant as “it” to avoid a connection while Tulip insists on calling it a baby. Storks may be too hyper and scattershot to win any awards or popularity contests, but it’s an amusing jaunt of absurdity.

Best line: (Hunter) “Look at that sunrise. How can you not look at it?”   (Junior, trying to humor his boss) “If I go blind, it’s worth it!”

 

Rank: List Runner-Up

 

© 2017 S.G. Liput
491 Followers and Counting

 

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