Storks is a bit slow and ungainly (kinda like a stork…) as it sets up the characters and plot but once it shifts into gear it flies.
Storks opens with overachiever Junior (voiced by Andy Samberg) in a meeting with his boss, Hunter (Kelsey Grammer). Hunter is being promoted and Junior is in line to become the next boos – but there’s a condition.
Back before Stork Mountain shuttered its baby delivery service (to become a ginormous Amazon-ish business), a stork named Jasper (Danny Trejo) failed to deliver a bay – who was raised in the company’s warehouse.
Carrot-topped Orphan Tulip (Katie Crown) has never fit in; though she’s done everything she could to help – usually with disastrous results (a graph shows the company’s profits soaring when she’s on vacation and plummeting when she’s trying to help).
Thus, Junior will be the next boss if he fires Tulip (who has just turned eighteen). Instead, Junior assigns her to the ‘Letters’ department.
Meanwhile, Nate Gardner (Anton Starkman) is trying to get five minutes of playtime with his dad, Henry (Ty Burrell), but Henry and his wife Sarah (Jennifer Aniston) are too busy working (they are high-powered real estate brokers). In frustration, Nate – who has found an old brochure for the storks’ baby delivery service – writes a letter asking for a brother (with ninja skills).
Events conspire to bring Junior and Orphan Tulip (‘please don’t call me that word – it makes me feel sad’) together to deliver a cute pink-haired baby to the Gardner residence. Their journey is fraught with peril…
Back at the Gardner residence, Nate persuades his parents to fashion an expansive set-up that will allow the stork to drop the baby off in a way that will take it directly to its crib. It’s the most the three have spent together in years (no doubt helped by Nate’s almost subliminal suggestion that if Henry blinks, he’ll miss Nate’s childhood completely…).
Once all the pieces are set in motion, Storks flies along at a hectic pace, generating laughs and moments of heart organically through unlikely threats (very. adaptable. wolves.); moments of sweetness (like the baby starting to cry in awkward places if Junior doesn’t hold her), and some incredibly sophisticated sight gags (and plenty of not-so-subtle ones – what happens to Hunter is almost poetic in its justice).
Written by Nick Stoller (The Muppets) and co-directed by Stoller and Doug Sweetland (many Pixar titles), Storks is a lot of fun once it gets off the ground.
Samberg shines as the occasionally confused Junior and Crown is all energy and gusto as Tulip. Burrell and Aniston are terrific (no surprise there – pay attention Sarah’s views on their house’s chimney), but Starkman delivers some of the movie’s best lines extremely well.
One of the biggest surprises, though, is Trejo, whose Jasper is the stork who failed to deliver Tulip – and apparently went a little crazy afterward. He might be the second most sympathetic character by movie’s end.
One character who wears a bit thin is Pigeon Toady (Stephen Kramer Glickman), whose half millennial/half valley boy shtick is maybe a shade too thick.
Storks winds up being pretty inventive fun.
Final Grade: B+