Everyone's heard the stories of how the stork supposedly delivers babies to families that are awaiting a little bundle of joy, and on top of that, everyone's seen at least one cartoon involving stork deliveries gone horribly wrong. The ground that the film Storks travels on certainly isn't new, however the film's novelty comes from its approach to the subject matter. Writer / director Nicholas Stoller has taken a time worn myth and turned it into one of the funniest, most thrilling animated adventures we've seen this year, putting Warner Animation Group on the map in a big way. It's truly a triumph of fun.
Junior (Andy Samberg) is about to become "The Boss" of stork deliveries for dotcom giant CornerStore.com. With his boss Hunter (Kelsey Grammar) grooming him for the position just days before their annual StorkCon, Junior is given one simple task that will signify his worthiness of the position: fire the orphan Tulip (Katie Crown,) who's inventions misfire more than they work, and somehow rob the company of precious profit. Of course, matters are only further complicated by the fact that our enterprising stork and his human employee are roped into a child delivery, which turns into an adventure that teaches us the meaning of family.
I'm just going to admit it: the synopsis I've just provided above sounds like a lot of animated films that have come before Storks, and a lot of cartoons that are being produced at this moment to succeed it. That's because it's hard to sum up the actual comedic gold that the film contains in mere words. With a sly blend of both grown-up humor centered around parenting and relationships, as well as the physical gags and bright colored dialogue that kids can enjoy, Nicholas Stoller has applied skills he's displayed in comedies like Forgetting Sarah Marshall and even his Neighbors films, and created a film so influenced by the Looney Tunes canon, he may as well be handed the keys to that mythic franchise on the back of this film.
This recommendation doesn't come lightly, as I've seen enough faulty kids movies to know that films like Storks don't come along often. A lot of your standard tropes litter the film, only in the hands of Stoller and his team, they're made new again. I can't remember the last time I saw an animated film use pop music to its advantage, as this film actually breaks into song a couple of times throughout and actually manages to stay on target. One moment in particular sees the adversarial Toady Pigeon dreaming of fame and wealth while singing The Heavy's "How You Like Me Now." It is probably one of the most hysterical scenes in the film, and it shows that the folks that put Storks together really understand the fine line between savvy family entertainment and stereotypical pablum.
Of course, the writing is only as good as the cast that it's printed on, and Storks has a murderer's row of talent at its disposal. Besides Andy Samberg playing our goofy, not ready for prime time CEO candidate, we've got the tremendous Katie Crown, who imbues "the orphan" Tulip with a child like sense of wonder that comes off as extremely sweet, and surprisingly never annoying. Even supporting roles featuring everyone from Keegan Michael-Key and Jordan Peele, to the parents played by Ty Burrell and Jennifer Aniston, get moments of comedic glory throughout the film - though Key and Peele naturally threaten to run away with the film in their roles as wolves who want the baby macguffin for their own.
The only real downside to Storks is that the story and subject matter may come off as problematic for some parents, and even some adult film viewers. Older children may question the true nature of "baby delivery," and if viewed the wrong way the message of the film may come off as saying, "Hey guys! Having babies solves everything!" Real life logic aside, Storks is a beautifully hilarious film that glides through comedy, action, and heartfelt emotion, to deliver an immensely satisfying package.