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Storks – Movie Review

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Storks – Movie Review

Rating: B (Good)

Trailer/Thumbnail Courtesy Warner Brothers

Director/writer Nicholas Stoller could not have found a more fitting home for his animated project about storks abandoning babies for package delivery. Along with director Doug Sweetland (responsible for the delightful slapstick Pixar short Presto), they have crafted a funny story and great sequences in keeping with Warner Brothers’ storied animation legacy. Collaborating with the similarly classic cartoon inspired animators at Sony ImageWorks, Storks takes its basic concept and has fun with it. There is not a single scene in Storks that falters in the humour and its fast-paced visuals, endearing set of characters and surprising amount of heart add to the enjoyment here.

Stoller and Sweetland successfully build on the universal idea passed down to young children that babies come from storks and create an entire history surrounding it. The progress from delivering newborns to becoming an Amazon-like shipping company makes for some humourous gags, especially when the profit-obsessed boss explains his vision to his protégé Junior. While this is the standard story of two opposites who don’t initially get along, the growing chemistry between Junior and the Orphan Tulip is developed properly. Part of it is what an infectiously delightful character Tulip is. Wonderfully quirky in the best possible way, the animators and voice actress Katie Crown give her a lot of energy and even a genuinely tragic back story to boot.

The wide assortment of ridiculous characters Tulip and Junior encounter adds to the high humour ratio of Storks. The highlights come courtesy of a pack of wolves, led by an ad-libbing Keegan-Michael Key and Jordan Peele, who are continually overcome by the power of cute. A pigeon, who seems modeled on a certain millionaire in the news lately, is given some of the film’s non-sequeters. The filmmakers mainly use him as a segue to  random gags that maybe under other hands, wouldn’t have worked quite as well. Penguins, always a popular bird in animation, also get a hilarious sequence that recalls the best of Tex Avery. The storyboard artists were clearly having a lot of fun expanding on Stoller’s original screenplay and the animators go all out. Farming the animation out to Sony, the rubbery and fast-paced character movements certainly recall their similarly inspired cartoon work in the Cloudy with a Chance of Meatballs and Hotel Transylvania films. One also sees a lot of Sweetland’s Presto in the physical comedy gags and Junior’s exaggerated expressions.

Thrown into the plot is a boy wishing for the storks to deliver a new brother and trying to grab the attention of his workaholic parents. There are some amusing lines in this subplot and it’s where some of the film’s heart comes from, but one does start to wish Storks would return to the hilarious antics of Junior and Tulip. The story as a whole certainly brings to mind Monsters, Inc. with the factory setting and young child who warms those around her. Even a sequence in which the two leads desperately try to get the baby to laugh is instantly reminiscent of one from the aforementioned Pixar title. However, this is shortly followed by an original sight gag. This is the sort of comedy that keeps throwing jokes every second and most do land, which somewhat makes up for the simple plot.

There may be a temptation to compare this to the Warner Animation Group’s previous film The LEGO Movie (and that film’s directors Phil Lord and Christopher Miller serve as executive producers), but the aspirations of Storks are different. This mostly works, thanks to its laughs and classic cartoon-inspired animation. As an added bonus, the filmmakers even include a nice nod to the many different types of parents out there, beyond the expected mother and father pairing. It is the sort of premise the Termite Terrace crew would have crafted a short out of, but Stoller and Sweetland do a suitable job stretching it to feature length.

 

Stefan Ellison
THE SCENE


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