STORKS: (GRADE: B)
***minor spoilers but nothing that isn’t shown in the trailers
STORKS, the movie by Warner Animation Group and starring the voices of Andy Sandberg and Katie Crown, is everything one expects from seeing the final trailer for the film (trailer 5 if you’re counting). In fact, in that final trailer they provide the premise (Storks used to deliver babies from a baby-making factory but don’t do it anymore), the set-up (that a human and a Stork have one more baby to deliver), and that some bad guys will try to stop them (A pack of wolves, a Stork who’s in charge and some penguins). Because you already know what’s happening and can easily guess what will happen in the end, STORKS is a safe and unsurprising but otherwise fine fun children’s movie to take the kids to if they want to see a movie.
Script: The idea is not based on any other story from some other media (like video game, comic book etc) so STORKS gets props for that and the individual jokes and set ups service the story well. STORKS also didn’t create a glut of marketing products (like toys, cereal tie-ins, etc) and they get major props for that too. There are moments that both children and adults will laugh at and, if the trailers didn’t show the best visual gag-the Wolf pack’s transformation, would have had a few fun surprises (but if you saw the trailer there would be no surprises). Once you get past the somewhat unique premise, STORKS is a paint by the numbers road with a generic message of “what is a family” and could easily have been greenlit by a studio that asked for “The same thing only different”. (**note: this isn’t meant to be a knock on the script writer, I believe they wrote it perfectly for a studio that wants to make a movie and came up with a somewhat original idea to put the basic plot formula into).
In the A-Plot, the nice-guy hero whose life is his work (though they don’t really build it up, it’s more stated than shown), the evil boss, the work flunky (a pigeon) have all been seen before, but this time…they’re birds who deliver things. The lonely but imaginative orphan Tulip who gets into trouble and doesn’t fit in is also an archetype that’s been seen before but because she’s a human working for Storks and because it’s voiced well, it’s a better than average character.
There is a B-Plot of a workaholic family voiced by Ty Burrell (dad) Jennifer Aniston (mom) and Anton Starkman (son who wants a baby brother because he is lonely). The initial set up of the son using his imagination to play as a spy is well done, in fact it was filmed better than the rest of the B plot. The film doesn’t focus on this family unit (hence: B plot) and the change of heart in the parents is as sudden as it was expected and doesn’t rise to any deeper Pixar level.
VISUALS: The animation is well done for what it is. It’s not Kubo or Nemo but it doesn’t have to be to create an entertaining movie and they do succeed visually. There are some visual elements like the storks flying while catching babies coming off the baby making machine (also seen in the aforementioned trailer) which is really well done. It looks better than some other movies out this year (Angry Birds, Ratchet and Clank) and feels like the studio probably considered a 3-D version (with some flight shots and the wolf pack moments) but then opted not to which is a good call so this makes these moments pop in the regular 2-D movie that it is.
ACTING: All of the voice actors rise to the occasion with what they have been given, especially Sandberg, Crown and Starkman. There are no misfires here in the casting or the execution. Of course Kelsey Grammer can play the evil boss and guess what? He does. Ty Burrell, who plays an affable Dad on Modern Family plays…an affable Dad in Storks. Katie Crown is given more to do and does more with it, especially with one scene where she plays multiple characters in her imagination. There was more promise to this character in the teaser trailer (the one that didn’t show scenes from the movie) and the movie could have done shown more of a human working with, and sometimes messing things up for, storks. Sandberg hits all the comic moments, the best of the casting here selling lines and making the script seem better than it was. Starkman was perfect as the son who wants a sibling, the character had excitement, disappointment, some sarcasm, etc and the actor hit every element of the role.
Now a special note on Key and Peele’s wolves and the wolf pack. Keegan Michael Key and Jordan Peele were wonderful in the roles (didn’t know it was them when watching it) and if I had not seen the wolf-pack transformation in the trailer, their addition would’ve been a wonderful surprise. There were a few transformations but the one in the trailer was the best one. This is a case where a trailer has shared too much of a movie and should allow an audience to discover the work on their own.
The Opening Short: The Masters. This was a LEGO short and though I am a big fan of the LEGO movie, this short didn’t work for me and in all probability for the rest of the audience for the silence in the theater as it ran spoke volumes.
Conclusion: If your children want to go to the movies, this is a perfectly fine movie to see for although you won’t be surprised, you won’t be disappointed. There’s enough work into it to make it a pleasant experience for adults as well as children. It is put together well visually, the cast is excellent and the script is everything you probably think it’s going to be.
Categories: Torrington Stories
Oh man that “Lego” short was TERRIBLE! I think it set the tone for what was to come (newsflash: I really hated “Storks”). Great review, by the way. –Louisa
I so agree with you on the LEGO short, Louisa, I was tempted to write that it felt like a student project (in which case, if it was a student film, I’d take it better). I didn’t hate STORKS (the kids liked it) but if someone told me they did, it wouldn’t be a surprising development. I mainly gave it a B (vs a C+) because I gave it points for not being based on another property and some of the visuals (mainly involving flight) were better than average! Thanks for sharing your thoughts!
I liked the original idea behind “Storks.” I just wish it had been a better movie. Such a bummer!