‘Where do babies come from?’ isn’t a question I intend to answer in this review but as to where babies may get their attention spans from, this hit and miss scattergun animated comedy may provide some clues.
Junior (Andy Samberg) is the lead delivery Stork for Cornerstore.com, in line to become the boss when his mentor Hunter (Kelsey Grammer) is ascends to become Chairman of the Board. The only thing standing in his way: he must fire Tulip (Katie Crown), a human who has grown up within the Cornerstore warehouse; the last baby left behind when the baby delivery service was axed. But when the system produces one more baby, Tulip convinces Junior to make one last delivery.
“Storks” feels like a studio movie, one produced more through obligation than inspiration. Having staked out a release date for an animated feature, ideas were no doubt workshopped around a big table laden with coffee and donuts before somebody piped up with ‘storks delivering babies…can we do anything with that?’ and everyone nodded and agreed it was time to break for lunch. Even the executive producership of Phil Lord and Chris Miller (of “The Lego Movie” fame) can’t save this from falling into same trap of mediocrity that’s claimed countless animated movies before it.
The movie starts brightly enough. The character design and animation is bright and appealing and the set-up looks like it’s going to skewer the cost to family life of the workaholic, corporate mind-set, with driven realtors and huge corporate retailers like Amazon in its sights but it quickly loses focus as the script careers through a patchwork of ideas and characters, ending with a weird baby boom finale that has queasily pro-life subtext. There are some funny moments (most of them, of course, shown in the trailer) but the movie has no real idea how to string them together in a cohesive way. The wolf pack scenes are probably where the film sparks into life the most but they dip in and out of the movie with little explanation or logic and there seems to be an underlying belief that if all else fails, having the characters spout the dialogue really quickly and in funny voices will distract from the lack of actual humour or ideas.
It’s a paycheque production devoid of passion and it shows. The cast is a who’s who of animated movie rent-a-stars, none of whom are invested in the project and that lackadaisical attitude feeds through to the audience. The Craggus’ usual animated focus group weren’t overly impressed. Mertmas (10) sat patiently through it but seems to have forgotten it almost as soon as he left the auditorium (the “Trolls” trailer has demonstrated more staying power) while the youngest Craggling (3) got bored and restless after the wolves’ ‘I agree, I agree, I agree, I agree’ peak. The little boy sitting next to us told his mum around the hour mark that he wanted to go home and couldn’t be dissuaded otherwise.
We’re not talking “Norm Of The North” level terrible, but this is serious disappointment from the studio which has been proudly boasting it brought you “The Lego Movie” and “Happy Feet”. It’s not been a stellar year for Warner Brothers in terms of matching they hype and that looks likely to continue as “Storks” fails to deliver.