The Warner Animation Group garnered great success with their debut release The Lego Movie (2013). While that film was visually inventive and wildly enjoyable, they have followed it up with a notably inferior offering. Storks is closer in style and tone to the Pixar and Disney realm of animation which the Warner team are striving to emulate. Unfortunately it is a mostly charmless and lacklustre affair. Although it moves along at at a cracking pace, the scatterbrained plot and largely forgettable characters never really engage and the comedy consistently misses the mark.
Since deciding that the baby delivering business was thwart with too many complications, storks have turned their attention to the more profitable and streamlined process of delivering consumer goods such as mobile phones. Now operating under the banner of cornerstone.com, the stork empire is going great guns under the leadership of their CEO Hunter (Kelsey Grammer). After a company restructure top performer Junior (Andy Samberg) is in line for promotion to ‘boss’, provided he can prove his ruthless streak by firing the clumsy and unreliable human employee Tulip (Katie Crown). Unfortunately, Junior doesn’t have it in him and puts Tulip out of sight in a mail sorting centre instead. While this facet of the business has basically become defunct since production of babies halted, the equipment still works. When a letter arrives from young Nate (Anton Starkman), asking for a sibling, Tulip unwittingly kick starts the baby making machine and little Diamond Destiny arrives on the scene. Fearing the wrath of Hunter, Junior agrees to help Tulip deliver the little bundle of joy to her new family. This kick starts a rollicking adventure for the pair with faulty flying machines, an angry wolf pack and an army of penguins among the myriad obstacles they must overcome to reach their destination.
Brash, loud and bewildering, Storks is a grating cinematic experience. It lacks the visual and verbal wit to endear itself to an audience. Despite having considerable talent in the voice department, the characters are largely unappealing. The constant bickering between Junior and the migraine inducing Tulip quickly grows tiresome, while the comedic abilities of Jennifer Anniston and Ty Burrell are wasted as a pair of work obsessed parents who have little time for their only child. There is a thin thematic thread pertaining to the importance of family thrown into the mix, but it isn’t delivered with much conviction and gets buried amidst the chaos of a painfully convoluted script. Director Nicholas Stoller has had reasonable success with adult comedies such as Bad Neighbours (2014) as well as writing the acclaimed reboot of The Muppet Movie (2011). He struggles for tone and inspiration here though. The script is too complicated and abrasive for very young viewers but the central premise about a cute baby getting delivered to it’s family is unlikely to appeal to older kids either. The humour isn’t multi-layered or clever enough to carry the film, which makes it a chore for adults to sit through as well. Co-Director Doug Sweetland brings an array of experience to the project having worked in the animation department on the likes of Toy Story and Finding Nemo. While this film at times looks as good as such revered animated features, it doesn’t have the smartness or warmth to elevate itself into the same league.
A high octane caper which maintains momentum thanks to it’s pace, frivolity and occasional splash of visual inventiveness, this is nevertheless a mediocre film. Lacking the emotional depth, quality storytelling and memorable characters of your average Pixar or Disney offering, Storks fails to deliver the goods.