In 2016, Nicholas Stoller (Get Him to the Greek & Neighbors) and Doug Sweetland (Presto) presented Storks, an animated film from Warner Bros. Animation Group (The Lego Movie). While it had a mixed critical reception, it's definitely a movie that typical movie-goers and families may find adorable and funny?
The main plot centers on a stork company that delivers packages and babies. When the top delivery stork, Junior, becomes boss of the workers, he is told to fire the only human working there, Orphan Tulip. Instead of firing her, he sends her to the defunct mail room. Meanwhile, the son of two workaholic parents, Nate Gardner, sends a letter to the company asking for a baby sibling to play with. When the letter arrives, it creates a baby, so now Junior and Tulip have to deliver the baby to it's guardians while going through many obstacles like avoiding getting noticed by the company's CEO Hunter, a pack of hysterical wolves, and trying to care for the baby itself.
In concept, the film has all the right ideas to make a charming comedy for the whole family, and it mostly succeeds in it's execution. Even though the journey Junior and Tulip go on feels similar to almost every Pixar film (e.g. Inside Out and Finding Nemo), the film gives the characters enough time to develop off each other, where they came from, and what each other's goals are, even if their quirky eccentric personalities don't always contrast that well. The subplot featuring Nate and his family, however, does come off as rather straightforward and it's easy to guess what will happen since all his goal is to have a baby sibling. It doesn't help that the movie itself does come with some tired film clichés, not just the duo who overcome each other on their obstacles, but also the workaholic parents who try to make their son happy, the big promotion from one job to another, the side villain finding out where the heroes are, and even how the main villain tries to get rid of the protagonists.
As for the rest of the characters, the CEO of the company Hunter at first comes off as a trustworthy boss, but there's quite a nerve he has with babies which presents him as threatening and cunning. The pigeon Toady can either be amusing or annoying with his exaggerated "bro" voice, but he's also a decent deuteragonist as he only follows his orders to make the most of his job. As stated before, the Gardner family have the same trope of the little kid who wants his busy parents to spend more time with him, so they decide to bond with him more to make him happy. And then there are the wolves led by the alpha and beta, who deliver the absolute funniest parts of the movie due to their personalities constantly shifting from menacing to energetically adoring the baby, as well as performing the best visual gags in the film.
However, if there are two things this movie really nailed in the execution, it would be the heart and the humor. The filmmakers definitely knew when to have cute sentimental moments with the baby, and they always come off as adorable instead of schmaltzy. Also, when the movie's main characters have their moments of relief and sentimentality, it gives the film a lighthearted tone that never comes out randomly, and portrays the scene with just the right emotion to make the audience feel for them. However, the humor would have to be the highlight of the movie, as there's plenty of one liners, visual gags, surprisingly decent pop culture jokes, slapstick, subversion and line deliveries, and it's very rare when they miss their mark as they have such exquisite timing and charm to them. Also, since Junior and Tulip do spend the journey caring for the baby, they spend time feeding and trying to put the baby to sleep, which also makes the movie relatable to any parents who raised their own offspring.
Since the movie acts more on the cartoony side, it creates the animation to be as cartoony as it can, and it did the job beautifully. The characters look kinda simplistic, but given the silly nature of the film, they contrast well, and their movements can get exaggerated and wacky at just the right moments. Although some of the places they leads go to range from a cave, to the Arctic, to suburbs, the animators still give the backgrounds life and present them in colorful, unique, vibrant, and bright manners. The effects animation is also quite creative such as the factory robots, the water, the machine that creates babies, and even some of the lights and electrical effects. The only criticism there is to give the animation is that many of the storks look like the exact same model (probably by means of cheaping out a bit), but they don't ruin the sporadically wonderful quality that the visuals have to offer.
While Storks may not have flown as high up as other animated films of 2016 such as Kung Fu Panda 3, Zootopia and Kubo & the Two Strings, it did offer enough good laughs, silly concepts, well crafted animation and memorable characters to stand on it's own. If you're in the mood for a cute little family comedy with some relatability to those who have raised babies before, then this will be a delight from beginning to end, especially since it knows who to aim itself towards. If Nicholas Stoller and Doug Sweetland can do this good of a job with cartoony movies, then I can't wait to see what they have in store next for animation
.like Captain Underpants, nice job Nick.
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