Storks hit mark in riotous ride
Storks (U) Let’s face it, most of us were told the story of storks delivering babies by awkward, nervy parents when our curiosity got the better of us in between playing with toys and watching cartoons on TV.
The Warner Animation Group follows up its critically acclaimed Lego Movie with a neat twist on storks’ extracurricular activities as the long-necked birds transition from babies to turning up on doorsteps with parcels.
Like the studio’s first big screen outing, Storks has two directors, with prolific comedy helmer Nicholas Stoller (the Bad Neighbours flicks, Forgetting Sarah Marshall) teaming up with debut director Doug Sweetland.
Stoller also wrote the script and his penchant for rattling the funnybone shines through in what is one of the funniest animations to hit cinemas in years.
Co-leads Andy Samberg ( Junior) – a stork – and Katie Crown – voicing teenage human Tulip – trade barbs like the genre’s best double acts; the grouchy former sounding a lot like The Lego Movie’s Batman, Will Arnett, and the latter an ever-imaginative and energetic presence.
Kelsey Grammer (Hunter) has his best role in years lending his distinctive tones to Junior’s high-powered boss; a loathsome figure who only sets up base in a glass office to watch oblivious birds fly into the windows and uses smaller winged minions as golf and stress balls.
Faring less well is Canadian comic Stephen Kramer Glickman (Pigeon Toady) as his vocal delivery grates, hindering the often good material granted to his meddlesome pigeon.
The creative, quick-fired visuals found throughout The Lego Movie resurface here with the multiple-skilled wolfpack and a quiet face-off with penguins among the ingenious conceptions.
Stoller and his animation team have a ball coming up with imaginative sights and sounds, including the destruction of the planet vision Junior has when he finds out he’s in line for a promotion, a literal conveyor belt of babies and eye-catching point-of-view and wide-angle arial camera shots.
The opening sequence sees ancient hieroglyphics used to present the storks’ history before transitioning into a Monsters Inc-style factory floor bustling with parcel packaging.
It’s not all plain sailing for Stoller and Sweetland, though, as parents Sarah and Henry Gardner’s (voiced by Jennifer Aniston and Modern Family’s Ty Burrell) switch from career-obsessed duo to building crazy extensions to their home felt too sudden.
And as endearing and inventive as Stoller and Sweetland’s film is, it lacks the pathos and depth of animation’s finest; although the final scene does tickle the tear ducts.
It’s no instant classic like The Lego Movie either, but Storks is never dull, always frenetic and provokes more laughter than most of this year’s Hollywood comedies combined.
Delivering hijinks Junior and Tulip are on the case