Storks' delivers with laughs, family themes
Posted October 12, 2016
BABY LAND — As a father, I thought I had a fairly strong understanding of where babies come from.
Well, that was until my daughter turned to me halfway through the movie “Storks” and whispered to me in an uncomfortably loud voice, “You lied to me about where babies come from!”
Now to be fair, I have had most of the “talk” with her and she knows that babies really come from Santa and Mrs. Claus. If my calculations are correct (and I think they are), somewhere down the road when she realizes who Mr. and Mrs. Claus truly are everything will fall together for her in a beautifully orchestrated symphony of understanding. For a brief moment, however, “Storks” almost had me convinced that I may not have fully understood where babies really come from.
Questionable parenting aside, “Storks” did change my mind a little about what it is to enjoy an animated children’s movie when you think you have seen them all.
It seems hard to remember not so long ago when each new computer-animated movie from a big studio meant a guaranteed box office success. The days when movies like “Toy Story,” “Shrek,” and even the first “Ice Age” were almost guaranteed to be hits, just for the novelty of the medium alone, are long gone.
Now, each new animated movie seems like it has a million others to compete with and there is no guarantee any of them will be any good and certainly none of them are novel.
“Storks,” however, managed to hold its own and brought some new laughs and even a couple of scenes that somehow misted my eyes with a thin layer of salty water.
“Storks,” written by Nicholas Stoller (“The Muppets,” “Forgetting Sarah Marshall”) and directed by Stoller and Doug Sweetland (“Presto”) is a story set 18 years after storks have stopped producing and delivering human babies. Now, they instead focus their efforts on delivering much less difficult packages for a company similar to Amazon.
The movie begins in a corporate distribution center perched precariously on a high mountain top. One of our heroes, a stork named Junior, played by Andy Samberg, is a successful upwardly mobile employee who is about to be promoted to the coveted position of “boss” just as soon as he fires an 18-year-old orphan named Tulip who was presumably raised by storks in this facility. Tulip played by Katie Crown is an enthusiastic, but accident-prone liability to the company and needs to be let go.
The trouble begins when Junior doesn’t have the heart to fire Tulip, choosing instead to banish her to the mail room in the old baby factory. From here, the joy will be your's to discover how the plot plays out.
Here is a list of things from the movie that I think you and your child will enjoy, with a few things you may not:
Funny characters with strong and easily relatable personalities
Samberg and Crown do a great job of keeping a brother-and-sister-like tension running throughout the movie. Along with the lead characters, Keegan-Michael Key and Jordan Peele provide the voices of a hilarious wolf duo vying for alpha status in a highly organized wolf pack, while they fight to keep possession of a human baby they have fallen in love with.
Other names that fill out the cast are Ty Burell and Jennifer Aniston who play the unsuspecting parents of a new baby. Kelsey Grammer appears as Hunter, the CEO of Corner Store delivery services, who may have just a touch of psychopathy.
Unfortunately, the character I’m afraid will stand out most to your children is the annoying office pigeon named Pigeon Toady voiced by Stephen Kramer Glickman. Glickman actually nails the role and will have you laughing, even though we all know the annoying type of employee Toady represents. You may also reasonably expect your kids to sing a song Toady sings at one point in the movie. You’ve been warned.
The fun, smooth pace of film won’t leave you or your child bored while still giving itself time to tell the story. There is plenty of action that will have your kids bouncing up and down with anticipation. The action is easily mixed in with the sweeter moments of the film, which allow you time to consider the subtext.
A story of family and identity
I think we have been lucky this summer to get at least a couple of really good kid movies that have to do with the importance of family. First, with the gorgeous movie “Kubo and the Two Strings” and now with “Storks.”
While Kubo focused on the value of ancestry, “Storks” focuses on what it means to be a family in a time when familial relationships take on so many different forms. I won’t ruin it for you, but there is a particularly touching scene at the end of the movie that got me a little choked up.
“Storks” provides a good excuse to spend time with your kids, grandkids, nieces or nephews
There are so many children’s movies I have been interested in watching, but would never go to on my own. One of the great things about having a child to take to a movie is that you get to spend time with them doing something they enjoy while secretly enjoying it yourself.
Whenever I review children’s movies, I always like to take one of my own kids and ask them to give me their review. This is mostly to make sure I get the target audience’s perspective, and partly because I somehow think it will make my job easier.
This time I asked my daughter how many stars she would give the movie. She carefully considered her answer and said, “99 stars.” I asked her if this was out of 100, and she said, “I give it 99 stars out of 99 stars, dad.” Not too bad from a kid’s perspective.
From an adult’s perspective, I’ll give it an 87 stars out of 99. “Storks” is a movie that probably won’t win any major awards, but it’s fun and will keep everyone entertained.
The movie is rated PG for mild action, some thematic elements and portrayals of non-graphic violence. The action in this movie contains some chase scenes that are fast paced and fun at times. This movie should be appropriate for most children over the age of 4, as many of the jokes and visual gags are humorous and easily understood.