They say that plagiarism is the highest form of flattery. Well if that’s the case then Pixar can feel very flattered after watching Storks. Storks comes from Warner, which, since 2014, has a fully-fledged, it’s got a logo and everything, animation division, sorry, animation group. It is this animation group that brings us Storks and will bring us the full Lego Ninjago film and The Lego Batman movie due in 2017.
Storks is, amazingly, about Storks and the fact that they once used to deliver babies, but have now gone on to deliver packages for a large, online business. One stork called Junior, voiced by Andy Samberg (Hotel Transylvania, Brooklyn Nine-Nine), the best delivery stork, is told he’s to be promoted to boss by current boss Hunter, Kelsey Grammer (Cheers, Frasier), if he will just fire the only human working at the delivery firm; Orphan Tulip, voiced by Katie Crown (Adventure Time, Bob’s Burgers). He chickens out (pardon the pun) and instead sends her to work in the letters department, knowing they don’t get any. However, they do get one which inadvertently ends up in the baby making machine and now the two of them have to deliver the baby before anyone notices.
The writer of Storks is Nicholas Stoller (Get Him to the Greek, Neighbors 2: Sorority Rising) who co-directed with Doug Sweetland (Presto (Short)). The problem I had with Storks is that it is first and foremost just plain weird. For example, Stephen Kramer Glickman (Big Time Rush, Dying Laughing) (any ideas?) plays a character called Pigeon Toady. A pigeon. The character, the voice, the dialogue of which is just bizarre. It looks like he’s styled on Donald Trump but if it was supposed to be some form of sly dig at the presidential wanna-be than it misses the mark by miles. Think about that for a second, if it was meant to be a dig at Trump they missed the mark. How is that even possible?
The story, one of storks delivering babies, is probably 30 or more years too late. I don’t know any parent that still says that Storks deliver babies. Most three-year olds know how to use a phone so they don’t fall for a big bird bringing their baby brother or sister. The run-time is less than an hour and a half and yet the guy sitting next to me fell asleep, probably because the film feels slow, characters are un-engaging and no-one is very happy.
The reason for me mentioning Pixar and plagiarism is that at the start of Storks we get a short film. Sound familiar? This short film is, I think, a teaser for the forthcoming Ninjago film though it’s not a great teaser. It’s Justin Theroux on voice over duties attempting to introduce us to Sensei Wu (Jackie Chan) but struggling due to a rogue, kung-fu chicken. It’s as odd as I’m making it sound.
There are some good moments in Storks, it’s not all doom and gloom. Most of these can be seen in the trailer and feature the wolf-pack. The two main wolves being voiced by Keegan-Michael Key (The Lego Movie, Tomorrowland) and Jordan Peele (Keanu, Bob’s Burgers). There’s also some teeny-tiny birds that look like the ones from Angry Birds (a Sony franchise so I wonder if they’re happy about that?) that Kelsey Grammer’s bird uses as stress relief toys. They’re cute and funny.
Overall I’m undecided if the reason storks seemed to miss the mark (no-one seemed thrilled by it, overhearing comments on the way out) is because either: it’s not a good film, it just hasn’t travelled very well outside of the US, or if this is a studio trying way too hard to capitalise on its success since its setup in 2014 for The Lego Movie? Personally I’m going for the latter. It feels silly for silly’s sake, it feels cliquey, like you have to be in on something, except they’ve forgotten to tell us what it is we’re supposed to be let in on.