Thursday, September 22, 2016

Review: "Storks"

“Storks” is a better concept than final product. It’s middle-of-the-road animation for kiddies with some humor thrown in for adults that doesn’t really click. I guess we should appreciate the effort, but whether they tried to include us or not, we’re not laughing.

The setup is that storks actually were in the baby delivering business until 18 years ago, when a colossal screw-up left them in the lurch and they had to take on a lost infant themselves, who’s grown up into an annoying teen who screws everything up. The boss stork, Hunter (voice of Kelsey Grammer), came up with the idea of transforming them into, an Amazon-like outlet for all kinds of consumer junk delivered door-to-door via free bird.

(Right now somewhere, Jeff Bezos is cursing his army of expensive drones.)

Hunter’s ready to move up the chain and hand the business off to Junior (Andy Samberg), a neurotic yet ambitious young climber. Except Nate (Anton Starkman), a lonely human kid who wants a baby brother to play with, sends a letter off to the storks requesting same. (“Please include ninja skills,” he underlines.) And Tulip (Katie Crown), the storks’ pet orphan, accidentally feeds it into their dormant giant gizmo that turns the letter molecules into the DNA of a new baby, or something. Out spits an adorable tyke with cotton candy-colored hair.

The metaphysics don’t make a lick of sense, but just go with it.

…except I can’t. Leaving aside the stationary-into-infant-humans thing, does this mean people weren’t having sex prior to the storks abandoning their trade? And now they’ve been making babies the old-fashioned way? If that’s the case, I’d think the headlines wouldn’t read “Storks back to making babies” but rather “Evil birds out to ruin your sex life!”

Anyway, Junior and Tulip embark on a trip to return the little girl to her rightful place, which involves journeying across sky, land and sea. (Junior conveniently busts his wing right before, thus removing the “Why not just take the eagles to Mordor?” argument a la the “Lord of the Rings” movies.)

Along the way they encounter a wolf pack that first wants to eat, then adopt the baby for themselves. Keegan-Michael Key and Jordan Peele voice the alpha dogs. The wolves have the curious, but genuinely hilarious, ability to link their bodies together to form a bridge, a boat and more stuff. There’s also a nasty little pigeon toadie (Stephen Kramer Glickman) looking to deep-six Junior’s favored status.

The movie keeps cutting away to Nate’s house, where he manages to pry his workaholic realtor parents (Jennifer Aniston and Ty Burrell) away from their phone headsets long enough to get some overdue bonding in.

Nicholas Stoller, who wrote the screenplay and co-directed with Doug Sweetland, has a fondness for rapid-delivery dialogue that is reminiscent of classic screwball comedies. Except they overuse it to the extent it becomes just irritating. It’s almost like theyassumeverythingbecomesfunnierjustbecauseyousayitfast.

If there’s a point to the story, it’s that kids are great, and you should have kids, and hug them lots and spend time with them. I can think of better ways to accomplish that than taking them to “Storks.”

Anyway, that’s my review. Now here’s one from Joel Lloyd, age almost 6: “Omigaw I love this movie!! I liked the part where the machine made a million babies with rainbow hair. Can we get it on DVD for Christmas??”

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