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Storks Movie Review

Storks: Blu-ray + DVD + Digital HD combo pack cover art
Storks is now available on home video. Read our review of the Blu-ray + DVD combo.

Storks (2016) movie poster Storks

Theatrical Release: September 23, 2016 / Running Time: 89 Minutes / Rating: PG

Directors: Nicholas Stoller, Doug Sweetland / Writer: Nicholas Stoller

Voice Cast: Andy Samberg (Junior), Katie Crown (Orphan Tulip), Kelsey Grammer (Hunter), Jennifer Aniston (Sarah Gardner), Ty Burrell (Henry Gardner), Anton Starkman (Nate Gardner), Keegan-Michael Key (Alpha Wolf), Jordan Peele (Beta Wolf), Danny Trejo (Jasper), Stephen Kramer Glickman (Pigeon Toady), Chris Smith (Dougland), Awkwafina (Quail), Ike Barinholtz (Miscellaneous Storks), Jorma Taccone (Miscellaneous Storks), Amanda Lund (Miscellaneous Storks)

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Warner Bros. Pictures releases more movies than any of the other major studios, so it is surprising and peculiar that they have not managed to find consistent success in feature animation while most of the others have enjoyed thriving departments over the past ten to fifteen years. Yes, the same Warner Bros. that for a long time was the direct competition to Disney with their various Looney Tunes and Merrie Melodies shorts,
has had a spotty record in the lucrative world of CG-animated family comedies. They've had a couple of hits (2006's Oscar-winning Happy Feet and 2014's widely beloved The Lego Movie) and a number of flops (including Happy Feet Two, The Ant Bully, and Legend of the Guardians: The Owls of Ga'Hoole). What they haven't had is enough consistency to establish them as a brand comparable to Illumination Entertainment, Sony Pictures Animation, DreamWorks, Blue Sky, Pixar and Disney.

Clearly, Warner is working on that with the formation of the Warner Animation Group. The think tank's first release, The Lego Movie, is being cultivated into a franchise that will extend to next winter's The Lego Batman Movie. Meanwhile, they're emphasizing their success by identifying Storks as being from "the studio that delivered The Lego Movie." Yes, there's a birth pun there and others throughout Storks. But the storks of Storks no longer deliver human babies to expectant families. Now, they deliver orders from Cornerstore.com.

In "Storks", Tulip (voiced by Katie Crown) and Junior (voiced by Andy Samberg) have to deliver a human baby the old-fashioned way.

Our protagonist is an ambitious but easygoing worker stork named Junior (voiced by Andy Samberg). He's looking at a promotion from his blowhard boss Hunter (Kelsey Grammer) if he can do just one thing: fire Orphan Tulip (Katie Crown), the awkward, red-headed 18-year-old human who hangs around the company's warehouse threatening productivity and profitability with her every move. Tulip's unusual failed delivery drove the storks out of the baby delivering business. Junior doesn't have the heart to fire her, though, instead assigning her to some long-abandoned mail department. Tulip still manages to make trouble there, as she accidentally turns a child's request for a younger brother into one pink-haired human girl, who needs to be brought to her new family. Tulip and Junior together assume the task, quickly becoming more like surrogate parents than just a pair of delivery people.

That is one layer of Storks. Another is the family for which the pink-haired infant is destined. It consists of a pair of workaholic realtors (Ty Burrell and Jennifer Aniston) and their mildly neglected son Nate (Anton Starkman), who puts in the request for a brother. He gets his parents to take time off and make over their house to be ready for the storks' forthcoming delivery.

That delivery, of course, is anything but direct. Various episodic misadventures delay Junior and Tulip's trip, from wolves (voiced by Key and Peele) who are disarmed by the baby's adorable nature to Jasper (Danny Trejo), the rogue stork responsible for Tulip's orphan status.

Oh, and if one character is designed to steal the show, it's Pigeon Toady (Stephen Kramer Glickman), a gnarly "brah" with an imitable way of speaking and being annoying. Think Finding Nemo's Crush for a new generation. At least, that is the hope.

The Gardner family prepares their house for the delivery of a bundle of joy in the animated family comedy "Storks."

Storks is written and co-directed by Nicholas Stoller, who has had success with R-rated Apatovian comedies (Neighbors, Forgetting Sarah Marshall) as well as with 2011's utterly endearing The Muppets reboot which he co-wrote with Jason Segel. Stoller does not seem particularly well suited for the animated family comedy,
even with veteran Pixar animator Doug Sweetland sharing director duties. Storks looks like a mainstream major studio family comedy. The generic designs could easily be mistaken for the work of Sony Pictures Animation or even DreamWorks. And the movie aims for the same type of two-for-kids, one-for-adults distribution of jokes.

Whether that formula has grown stale or Stoller just doesn't bring a sharp enough wit to the table, Storks falls short. It tries too hard to entertain you, only to lose your interest as its plot fails to make much sense at all. An average CG family comedy, like DreamWorks' Home or the recent Angry Birds Movie, tends to divert enough to make it quite watchable. That makes Storks a below average production, one you may find extremely difficult to warm to, whether it's aiming to tickle your funny bone or hoping to tug on your heartstrings.

Following a common model, Storks is preceded by a short film. Hailing from the Lego Ninjago franchise, the irreverent The Master introduces us to Master Wu (Jackie Chan), a warrior who is repeatedly upstaged by a chicken. It seems like these few minutes, which play with Groundhog Day-like editing, are as entertaining as anything in Storks, but that's less an endorsement for the short than it is a disapproval of the feature that follows it.

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Storks (Blu-ray + DVD + Digital HD)
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Reviewed September 23, 2016.



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