By: Oberst Von Berauscht (Four Beers) –
Junior is a rising star in the Stork world, working for retailer Cornerstore.com as all Storks have done now since abandoning their original calling delivering babies. He has done so well that he is offered to take over as CEO of the company when the current boss moves into the spot of Chairman of the Board. The CEO tells Junior that he needs only complete one task in the week before he takes over to prove his worth; that is getting rid of the human Tulip, an orphaned child who was never delivered. Not wanting to hurt her feelings by firing her, Junior instead gives Tulip a job in the Stork mail office, which causes her extreme boredom, until she inadvertently re-starts the baby-making machine, and suddenly the two now have to find a way to deliver the baby without the boss finding out.
Storks is directed by longtime Pixar animator Doug Sweetland alongside comedy director Nicholas Stoller. The pair attempt to give the film a fast-moving Warner-Bros animation style slapstick vibe, and this sometimes works quite well. The film is full of creative tertiary characters, such as the officious suckup bird named “Pigeon Toady”, and the pack of Wolves who work together so well they can shapeshift voltron-style into a bridge, a boat, a submarine, and (with less success) an airplane. The wolf scenes are easily the film’s funniest aspect, boosted even further by the lead wolves being voiced by Keegan-Michael Key & Jordan Peele.
I’m sure voice actress Katie Crown will no doubt go on to do something really good someday, but I found Tulip highly obnoxious. In modern animation, there always seems to be a female co-lead whose character is portrayed as hopelessly clumsy and awkward, but yet hides a secret gift that makes them special. Basically, the character exists solely as a wrench to jam into the main character’s spokes, at least until the plot demands that she save the day. Is this the only way Hollywood knows how to write female characters in animation?
Score one again for Hollywood Character Screenwriting; Junior’s entire problem is based on a lie that could have easily been avoided. The sheer number of films which which use this “lying to avoid hurting the feelings of another character” trope are too many to be counted. This happens so much that I have had to look past the cliché many times when reviewing movies that are otherwise very good. But since Junior possesses no empathetic traits whatsoever, the story hinges on this as its main source of drama. Because neither of the lead characters were compelling, I was left sitting alone in the theater wondering “why should I care?”
The film’s biggest flaw is perhaps the editing, with so much exposition jammed in at the beginning, it flies by so fast that the audience doesn’t have a chance to absorb anything about it. Without warning, the film cuts to a subplot about a boy. This sequence opens up nearly identically to the original Toy Story, watching a kid at play with toys being creative and cute. The scene slowly develops to show that his workaholic parents don’t give him enough attention. Only after several cut-aways to this subplot does any relevance to the main plot develop; when the boy decides he wants a baby brother as a playmate.
This storyline should have been excised in favor of beefing up the backstory for Junior and Tulip, because without it…
Storks has some genuinely funny moments, at least when it doesn’t focus on the terrible and terribly annoying lead characters.
Storks (2016) Drinking Game
Take a Drink: every time Pigeon Toady says “Brah”
Take a Drink: for every “babies are cute” joke
Do a Shot: when Junior or Tulip make a dumb and annoying decision because they’re dumb and annoying