Reviewed by: Blake Wilson
|Featuring:|| Andy Samberg … Junior (voice)
Jennifer Aniston … Mrs Gardner (voice)
Ty Burrell … Mr Gardner (voice)
Kelsey Grammer … Hunter (voice)
Katie Crown … Tulip (voice)
Keegan-Michael Key … Wolf Pack (voice)
Jordan Peele … Wolf Pack (voice)
Anton Starkman … Nate (voice)
Danny Trejo … Jasper (voice)
Stephen Kramer Glickman … Pigeon Toady (voice)
|Producer:||Stoller Global Solutions
Warner Animation Group
Warner Bros. Animation
|Distributor:||Warner Bros. Pictures|
It’s the 21st century, and with the future comes change… big changes. And that goes for the storks at Stork Mountain, as well. Storks don’t deliver babies anymore. Instead, they deliver packages for an on-line shopping conglomerate called Cornerstore.com.
Popular employee Junior (voiced by Andy Samberg) is about to be promoted to being a “boss” by the current boss, Hunter (voiced by Kelsey Grammer). There’s just one thing that needs to be done: fire the only human working in the company, Tulip (voiced by Katie Crown), who, due to difficulties beyond the storks’ control, was never delivered to her family as a baby.
Junior can’t find it in his heart to fire the ever-positive Tulip, so he instead puts her in charge of the abandoned “letters room.” When an unexpected letter actually arrives, Tulip accidentally starts up the baby-making machine, and one baby comes out. In an attempt to stop the machine, Junior accidentally breaks his wing, leaving him temporarily flightless. What to do? Well, it’s the stork motto “Always deliver” that encourages Junior and Tulip to make the journey themselves to deliver this baby to her family.
The animation is pretty creative at times, especially when the baby factory comes to life later in the film. The characters are cartoony and the animation effects bring to mind the whiz-bang shenanigans of the Looney Tunes (need I remind everyone this is a Warner Bros. Production?). The script benefits from a few very solid heartfelt moments and some good-natured humor.
The voice cast does a nice job, and Grammer, in particular, is fun as Hunter. Newcomer Crown also does nicely as the lively Tulip. She and Samberg do have solid chemistry in some scenes, and Ty Burrell and Jennifer Aniston are really interesting as a pair of parents trying to make time for their son. Just about everyone hams it up, sometimes a little too over-the-top, though.
The script is full of over-the-top, goofy dialog. And sometimes, that is to the film’s detriment and makes for a few poorly written, “heartfelt” scenes. A few of those scenes that might have been intended to be serious failed to really engage me, as much as they could have. Toward the end, however, the screenwriters do ease up and let the heartfelt moments shine a little bit more.
Family is one of the main messages here. The most inspiring example comes from a B-plot involving a kid named Nate and his workaholic parents. Nate yearns for time with his parents, and says at one point, “Blink and I’ll be in college.” The Dad picks up on this and tells his wife, “What if the next time we take off our intercoms, how old will Nate be?” For adults, it’s always important to find a healthy balance between work and family. Spending quality time and making the most of time with loved ones is shown as a definite positive here. As it says in Ephesians 5,
“Look carefully then how you walk, not as unwise but as wise, making the best use of the time, because the days are evil. Therefore do not be foolish, but understand what the will of the Lord is.” —Ephesians 5:15-17
Tulip and Junior develop mutual affection for each other, eventually labeling themselves a “family” with the baby. It reminds me of how the family of Christ is not just by blood relation. It’s made of those you care about and love, and those who care about and love you in return. Matthew 12 discusses this.
“But he replied to the man who told him, “Who is my mother, and who are my brothers?” And stretching out his hand toward his disciples, he said, “Here are my mother and my brothers! For whoever does the will of my Father in heaven is my brother and sister and mother.” —Matthew 12:48-50
It is suggested that children aren’t actually delivered by storks (surprise surprise), which gives the “Storks” idea an adoption parallel in some ways.
Violence—only of the cartoonish, slapstick variety (think Looney Tunes). Storks are poked in the eye, battered around, and hit by babies and the elements. One is dragged through the ground through various obstacles, at the beginning. Another is nearly hit by a plane. A plane falls out of the sky and nearly crashes on the ground. Wolves knock out someone with a stick and almost take out Tulip and Junior. A wall is crashed through by a contraption, and an entire building nearly collapses, and there are a couple of explosions. A character crashes into a wall and into a blimp. Birds crash into glass (because they can’t see it). Two characters are stabbed by a fork. Penguins snap and bite Junior in an action scene. Tiny birds are whacked, squeezed, and hit with a golf club. Characters fall from great heights. A pack of wolves talk of “ripping an arm off.”
Language: One time, someone says “suck it!” We also hear “oh my gosh,” “what the heck?”, “jeez,” and an unfinished “what the…?”
Adult Content: None really, though Nate does ask “where did I come from?”, resulting in his parents giggling knowingly of the answer. This will likely go over younger children’s heads. A bird’s bare (feathered and pixelated) rear is briefly shown. Animated bare baby rears are shown briefly also.
Other: Surprisingly, bathroom humor is only used sparingly. A couple of moments where a diaper is sniffed to check on whether or not it is clean. Junior mentions that he “peed” on the airplane seat. Someone vomits off-screen, at one point.
On a much more negative note, there is a brief moment in the film that might be a cause for concern for conservative and Christian viewers. In a montage at the end of the film, we witness storks delivering babies to several different couples. Among these are two brief depictions of same-sex couples (one of two women and one of two men). These moments are quick and only last a second or two, at most, and will be missed by some kids and moviegoers. But, at the same time, the Bible is clear about homosexuality.
“Or do you not know that the unrighteous will not inherit the kingdom of God? Do not be deceived: neither the sexually immoral, nor idolaters, nor adulterers, nor men who practice homosexuality, nor thieves, nor the greedy, nor drunkards, nor revilers, nor swindlers will inherit the kingdom of God.” —1 Corinthians 6:9
Granted, society is at a time and place where the definition of marriage by God is being rejected and more in favor of “love is love” and “people can love whoever they want.” And, I am aware that some people aren’t going to agree with my standpoint on this issue. True, the images in question are incredibly brief, many won’t catch it, and it doesn’t affect the entertainment value of the whole film too much. At the very worst, it muddles and secularizes the very positive family-centric messages. However, having this clear liberal idea in a movie aimed at young, impressionable children, is still inexcusable.
For the most part, “Storks” is a fun, sometimes hilarious and sweet movie that takes a yesteryear idea and takes it to the 21st century in intriguing style. In terms of humor and dialog, this reminded me some of “Cloudy with a Chance of Meatballs,” with arguably less heart, wit, and originality. There are a few memorable characters, and a few clever elements. I also appreciated the lack of adult innuendo and keeping the bathroom humor to a minimum. It is sometimes over the top and doesn’t come anywhere near the high standard of Pixar and Disney Animation, but it’s still, overall, very entertaining.
The movie also contains a few very solid familial lessons and messages for both kids and adults to pick up on and discuss.
However, because of the brief (but still present) extolling of a liberal worldview contrary to God’s viewpoint on marriage, “Storks” falls short of being something that I would recommend to families and Christians. Even though the PG rating is now the norm for kids’ movies, “Parental Guidance” is certainly more than suggested here for the mixed messages.
Violence: Mild / Profanity: Minor / Sex/Nudity: Minor
See list of Relevant Issues—questions-and-answers.