Reviewer: Freda Cooper
Directors: Nicholas Toller, Doug Sweetland
Stars: The voices of Andy Samberg, Katie Crown, Ty Burrell, Jennifer Aniston, Kelsey Grammer
Released: 14th October 2016
In case you haven’t heard, storks don’t deliver babies any more. They stopped doing it 18 years ago, when they discovered they could put their talents to a more profitable use. Delivering online shopping. It’s a neat enough idea and the premise behind Warner Brothers’ latest animation.
Not that the storyline for ‘Storks’ is as straightforward as that. The proverbial spanner in the works is the last baby that should have been delivered all that time ago. She never reached her home so Tulip (the voice of Katie Crown), as she was named, grew up in the storks’ delivery depot and she’s turned into a walking disaster area. Young stork Junior (voiced by Andy Samberg) is about to take over the company but securing the top job means sacking her. It’s easier said than done, especially when a series of accidents result in the arrival of a brand new baby. There’s also a sub-plot which, by a lucky coincidence, involves a little boy who desperately wants a baby brother and writes to the storks for help.
Don’t expect this to be ‘The Lego Movie’, because it’s not. But it is an entertaining and enjoyable piece of family entertainment which tackles some serious subjects as well. It’s almost an essential nowadays, even if they do go over the heads of the younger members of the audience. In this case, the issue is about children taking second place to their loving but workaholic parents. The approach is simplistic, but has enough emotion to hit home, even though directors Nicholas Toller (at the helm for his first animation) and Doug Sweetland are more interested in being entertaining than anything else.
That makes for plenty of visual gags and a clutch of elaborate ones involving a pack of wolves with the unerring ability to change themselves en masse into whatever they happen to need at the time, be it a full scale bridge, a van, a boat. Even a broken heart. And gentle fun is poked at adults at the way a cute baby can turn them into simpering goo. We’ve all been there ……..
It is, however, not fun, fun, fun all the way. The film’s villain, Toady Pigeon (voice of Stephen Kramer Glickman) is a total misfire and certainly not the hissable baddie he should be. Nor does he have any sense of menace: he looks more like a budgie than a pigeon, is woefully under-developed and his attempts at street talk are downright poor and unfunny. We all know that he’s meant to be the guy at the company that nobody likes, but it would have helped if he’d been more convincing.
With its release this week, ‘Storks’ gets a head start on the other half term family offerings, ‘Trolls’ and Disney’s ‘Queen Of Katwe’. It’s likeable, funny and there’s enough to keep the adults happy while entertaining the children as well. But it does little that’s new or especially adventurous so, by the time it’s flown off into the distance, it’s easily forgotten.