U – 87mins – 2016 – 3D
18 years after the world’s stork population stopped delivering tots to expectant parents (“there are so many other ways to make babies now,”) and started working in package delivery for online retailer cornerstore.com, the factory’s sole human – an orphan named Tulip (Katie Crown) brought up by the feathered flock after her homing beacon was destroyed – accidentally restarts the baby-making machine on the eve of soon-to-be-boss Junior’s (Andy Samberg) term at the top.
Paranoid it will jeopardise his top-flight position, Junior and Tulip team up and set out to deliver the gurgling unauthorised “package” before the irregularity is revealed to current CEO, Hunter (Kelsey Breaking the Bank Grammer). Problem is, fellow colleague and brown-nosing outcast Pigeon Toady (Stephen Kramer Glickman, repeatedly scene-stealing) is on their tail, and he has his beady eye on promotion, too…
Taking a brick out of The Lego Movie helmer’s toy chest, Warner Animation Group’s Storks – which lists both Chris Miller and Phil Lord amongst its executive producers – ups its hyperactivity to eleven, frequently splurging on rat-a-tat dialogue between its spunky/wired characters. It’s occasionally too verbose for its own good, but when the banter hits, it hits hard.
From the colourful, big-eyed stylisation to the often left-field references (I never thought I’d see the day when “Gentrification” is the punchline to a joke in a family film), wackiness is clearly the order of the day for co-directors Nicholas The Muppets Stoller and Doug Sweetland (in his debut). This is obvious even in the status quo: Storks is set in a universe similar to reality but somewhat skewed (the newborns are made in a machine; wolves are surprisingly regulated at group activities).
While this does lead to a rather tongue-in-cheek self-referential tone (“You don’t see that on nature documentaries!”), it does also somewhat diminish the effect of the uplifting familial theme at the heart of the story by distancing you from the emotional impact. Storks is a frivolous hoot, then, albeit one that treads a fine line between the sublime and the utterly ridiculous.
CR@B’s Claw Score: