If you thought the bird cinema season was over with The Angry Birds Movie, the infamous meme movie that actually got the endorsement of KKK and neonazis, Warner Brothers’ Storks has come to right any and all the wrongs, making a lovable animation a studio like Sony wishes it could make.
How lucky are we to be living through the golden age of animation? A time when studios have a competitive free market of ideas to face against their peers. Whether it be Disney and Pixar’s focus on emotional narrative, DreamWorks with their handle on immaturity, pop culture references and the occasional pull on the heartstrings, and Blue Sky and Illumination with their cute equals automatic cash philosophy. You gotta ask – where would Warner Brothers’ be able to succeed? Would they cash in on dark and gritty nihilist animation? Hiring Zack Snyder to direct symbolic art pieces with symbolism up the wall and harsh character deconstruction? I know, that is not our sadistically great reality, but they settle on getting ace talent to handle fun concepts that still surprise us. Doug Sweetland and Nicholas Stoller blend the charm of Looney Tunes, the king of the Warner Brothers’ animation past, with the wit of their Lego Movie animation future, injected with some satire on capitalism.
Centred on the stork delivery business, the company Cornerstore.com, located high above the clouds, went from delivering babies to delivering everyday useless items from your silverware to your lazy day pyjama wear. The reason for this transition – A. Profit and B. Attachment. That attachment caused by an employee who grew too fond of his next package, Tulip (Katie Crown), with conflict forcing the company to raise her without him. The stork that wants to be CEO, Hunter (Andy Samberg), is just one day away from his dream. Unfortunate circumstances, however, get in the way when the now 18 year old Tulip and him create an accidental package in the baby machine and must deliver it to the right family before all the wrong people find out.
It’s pace where Sweetland and Stoller succeed in Storks, taking a cue from past adventure movies where it never stays on one location for too long, utilizing the scope of the movie, yet every location is used in its own proper way. Sweetland and Stoller focus on a level of snappy dialogue and visuals that are just short of a Bugs & Daffy Excellent Children of Men Baby Adventure. At one point you could swear an Indiana Jones journey map would show up when they start moving, and even though it doesn’t, it still locks you in on where the filmmakers will take it. Sweetland and Stoller make a concerted effort to characterise purely for enjoyment. Whether it be their little quirks, back and forth banter, or little bits of emotion that leave you happy, sad or smiling.
There’s a level of absurdity you have to jump on board with, and for many audience members, regardless of age, I think it’ll hook them in easily. The humor rides that fine line of improvisation, considering the voice actors often recorded together, but it never feels like the recent Apatow trend of here’s a funny exchange, but we’ll only use it here and have no connecting payoff. Sweetland and Stoller don’t play that. They have their funny exchanges and gaffs, but they manage to weave them in through each act. that leads to a bigger payoff, similar to Lord and Miller’s approach to The Lego Movie, where the structure payed off humorously and tonally. Sweetland and Stoller never give up story for a cheap laugh, and every absurdist laugh is rich with wit. Their characters are quirky, but aren’t script cliches you see a mile away. They’re no heroes outside normal motivations for doing things, but rather they’re authentic and are the ones you cling to when absurdity is high.
In a movie like Storks you need that embrace of silliness and lively pace that will excite the whole family, or simply just you. It may be the choice for biggest surprise comedy of the year. Don’t wait till it’s delivered to your house via air. Bird kino is great again.
Storks will be Andy Samberg’s sixth animated, theatrical movie. The first time was in Space Chimps (2008) and the other four times were in the Cloudy with a Chance of Meatballs movies and the Hotel Transylvania movies, respectively.