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Special delivery - 'Storks'

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Animated film offers laughs for the whole family

One of the best aspects of 21st century Hollywood's affinity for animated films is that you not only get a wide variety of films, but a wide variety of talented filmmakers filmmakers who might not have otherwise involved themselves with animation coming on board to make movies.

Director Nicholas Stoller best known for raunchy dudebrofests like 'Forgetting Sarah Marshall' and 'Neighbors' is the latest unexpected talent to throw his hat into the animated ring with 'Storks,' the latest offering from Warner Bros. Animation. Stoller who co-directs from his own script alongside veteran Pixar animator Doug Sweetland brings his skewed sensibility to a family-friendly story about when the birds of baby-delivering legendstop delivering babies.

See, babies USED to be delivered by storks. But one day, not so long ago, storks got out of the baby delivery business and got into the package delivery business; the baby factory was closed down and a giant warehouse for shopping website was opened.

Junior (Andy Samberg, 'Popstar: Never Stop Never Stopping') is an ace delivery stork who has just delivered his millionth package. His milestone is marked by a meeting with his boss, a tough bird named Hunter (Kelsey Grammer, 'Baby, Baby, Baby') who made the decision years ago to shut down the baby division. Hunter is being promoted, leaving Junior to be groomed as the new boss.

He just has to take care of one little problem.

Tulip (Katie Crown, TV's 'Clarence') is a human who wound up stranded on Stork Mountain when her delivery bird went crazy. Junior is tasked with firing her, but instead, he puts her in charge of the long-dormant letter department in hopes of keeping her out of Hunter's line of fire.

Meanwhile, a little boy named Nate (Anton Starkman, TV's 'American Horror Story') has decided to ask his mom (Jennifer Aniston, 'Mother's Day') and dad (Ty Burrell, TV's 'Modern Family') for a new baby brother. When they dismiss him, he discovers an old flier for stork baby delivery service and decides to write a letter. Tulip winds up delivering the letter to the automated baby factory, which makes a baby, leaving her and Junior stuck with trying to figure out a way to deliver this baby with no one finding out and still getting Junior back in time for the annual StorkCon where his new promotion will be announced.

You can probably guess where it goes from there. Road trip hijinks ensue as the two unlikely traveling companions try to take the baby to its new home; along the way, they face plane crashes and wolves and angry penguins and a suspicious homing pigeon. And perhaps just perhaps they might be able to help finally deliver Tulip to her real home too.

'Storks' is something of a surprise. It doesn't have the sophistication you might see from a Pixar film, but it doesn't aspire to that. Stoller has crafted a story that while admittedly a bit thin leaves a lot of room for his weird, banter-driven comedic sensibility. It operates at a frenetic pace and doesn't always seem to care how much actual sense it's making, but that energy works in its favor. The jokes come fast and furious; the best ones are the kind of stupid-smart and absurd bits that seem right at home in a Warner Bros. production.

(It should be noted that, while youngsters will absolutely enjoy this movie, there's a very real possibility that certain questions raised by the film namely, where babies come from will be asked by those same youngsters. Not telling the parents out there what to do, but you'd do well to maybe prepare yourself just in case someone gets curious.)

The cast is fine, but other than Samberg who is wonderfully suited to this kind of voice work - there aren't any real standouts. Aniston and Burrell give good parent, while the kids do a fair job. Grammer never met a piece of scenery animated or otherwise that he couldn't chew. Danny Trejo, Keegan-Michael Key and Jordan Peele show up as well Key and Peele are central to one of the film's best (and most ridiculous) running gags.

'Storks' is a solid animated offering - maybe not high art, but certainly entertaining enough. Stoller ensures that there are plenty of gags for the grown-ups while still creating something that entertains kids without condescending to them. Definitely fun for the whole family.

Just be ready to talk about where babies REALLY come from.

[4 out of 5]

Last modified on Tuesday, 31 January 2017 19:36


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