Review: “Storks”

Posted by Michael Parsons on December 19, 2016 in , / No Comments

 

What do you get when you cross an animator with a director who specializes in raunchy adult humor? Not “Sausage Party”, believe it or not, but Warner Animation’s “Storks”, a kid-friendly yarn that is also funny enough to engage the grown-ups. If we’re talking about a way to fill 90 minutes and you just can’t watch “Zootopia” for a 15th time, this one is a safe alternative—less ADHD than “Trolls”, wittier than “Secret Life of Pets” and far more energetic than “Finding Dory” (don’t get me started on “Angry Birds”). Though if you’ve ever told your young ones that this is where babies come from, you might have some explaining to do — since storks now deliver things like cell phones exclusively for a massive Amazon-type.com conglomerate.

Andy Samberg voices Junior, an ambitious stork all set to take over for head honcho (Kelsey Grammer) at the warehouse. All he needs to do is fire Tulip (Katie Crown), an accident-prone human orphaned at birth after her delivery address was destroyed, now a teen whose inventive nature tends to cause a dip in profits. Junior instead relegates her to the mailroom, which remains unused since they shut down the baby-maker some time ago. Until she receives a letter requesting a baby brother from young Nate (Anton mv5bmtyxnji3mzcwmf5bml5banbnxkftztgwotiyndy5ote-_v1_uy1200_cr9006301200_al_Starkman), an only child whose parents (Ty Burrell, Jennifer Aniston) wear their Realtor® hats 24/7. A slight hurdle en route to Junior’s promotion, when he finds himself with an infant to deliver and a lame wing. Thankfully, Tulip has been crafting a plane/helicopter so that she can venture out and find her real parents!

The movie is directed by Nicholas Stoller and Doug Sweetland, the former’s résumé heretofore defined by flicks like “Neighbors”, “Sex Tape” and “Get Him to the Greek”. But, somewhat like writer/director David Gordon Green, his departure from that tired brand of comedy shows some real talent.

Highlights of the movie include Danny Trejo as a creepy  excommunicated stork, and comedy duo Key & Peele as Alpha/Beta wolves whose  resourceful pack can collectively form of anything from a bridge to a boat (just not an airplane). Funniest is a hairpiece-wearing pigeon with an extreme Napoleon complex (Stephen Kramer Glickman).

Surely, there’s a “Storks 2” on the horizon. And why not? We’re on like “Ice Age 9”. And only here can you see a cartoon version of Phil Dunphy from “Modern Family. Ty Burrell must have been in real estate in a past life.

DVD/Blu-ray December 20th

— M. Parsons

 

On DVD/Blu-ray December 20th/Directed by Nicholas Stoller and Doug Sweetland/ Starring Andy Samberg, Katie Crown, Kelsey Grammer, Jennifer Aniston, Ty Burrell, Anton Starkman, Keegan-Michael Key, Jordan Peele, Danny Trejo, Chris Smith, Stephen Kramer Glickman/Animated/87 minutes/Rated PG

Michael Parsons

Father. Realtor®. Movie nut. After pestering my parents for their commentary on “Star Wars” when I was four years old, my mind went into a creative frenzy. I’d imagined something entirely different than the actual film, which I didn’t end up seeing until its 1979 re-release at the Uptown Theater in Washington, DC. This was my formal introduction to the cinema.

During that long wait, which felt like an eternity to a child, my mind was being molded by more corrosive stuff like “Trilogy of Terror” and “Rosemary’s Baby”, most of which I’d conned various babysitters into letting me watch on television ( I convinced one poor lady that “Jaws” was actually “Moby Dick”).

The folks were pretty strict in that regard, so the less appropriate it was for a kid to watch, the more I was fascinated by it. Horror staples like “Halloween” and “Friday the 13th”, as well as lesser-known low-budget fare like “Madman”, “Sleepaway Camp” and “Pieces” all ended up sneaking their way into the VHS on a regular basis.

Since then, I’ve developed an obsession with the entire film industry. Even though I watch and review a wide breadth of films these days, my appreciation for the campy, poorly lit micro-budgeters still lends itself to my evolving perspective on movies just as much as the summer blockbusters and Oscar contenders. As I recall my trips to the movie theater, I realize that this stuff is about much more than just a fleeting piece of entertainment.

A couple years ago, I was finally given the opportunity to lend my opinion on films to a publication, The Rogers Revue, with a subsequent run at Reel Film News. It's been both a privilege and a gateway to what we’re doing now. Most of my experience has come from interviewing independent filmmakers, who consistently promote innovation. The filmmaking process is grueling and relatively unforgiving.

Fellow film enthusiast Eddie Pasa and I have created DC Filmdom as a medium for film reviews, discussion, and (inevitably) some debate. And so, the creative frenzy continues.

(Michael is a member of the Washington, DC Area Film Critics Association).

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