his relentlessly wacky film centres on a corporation of storks, who, having abandoned their traditional role of delivering babies, have adapted their business to a simpler cargo: technology and other, less emotional, baggage. Amongst them lives a sweet-natured human, Tulip, an orphan the storks failed to home. When Nate, a lonely boy with workaholic parents, requests a baby brother by mail, Tulip accidentally re-activates the old baby factory, and an adorable pink haired infant is produced. Tulip and Junior, a well-to-do stork with promotional aspirations, set out to get the child home.
What follows is a formulaic road trip: the unlikely duo of Tulip, a quirky optimist, and Junior, deadpan and sarcastic, unite to tackle various obstacles and characters along the way, including a pack of sentimental wolves, a mob of penguins, and one sassy pigeon (Kramer Glickman).
However, despite a clichéd structure, Storks is uniquely brilliant. From the same studio that made The Lego Movie, it is similarly genius. Writer Nicholas Stoller appreciates the infinite opportunities for creativity that the medium of animation offers, and he exploits it fully and without apology: a functioning submarine made out of wolves – Why not? Amongst the chaos, even the characters openly acknowledge inconsistencies: laughing at an absurdly weak chimney, whimsically easy to destroy in one blow, with it, the fourth wall is also left in rubble. A highlight is a daring experiment with sound: a hushed fight scene between penguins and protagonists, yet without the music we are trained to expect, the result is muffled, awkward, surreal, and hilarious. This playful self-awareness is what makes Storks unique from its rivals. Pixar, brilliant as they are, take themselves too seriously to achieve what Storks does. It’s not necessarily better, just refreshingly different.
Tulip and Junior have a level of chemistry that you might not expect from a human-stork partnership, brought to life by expressive and dynamic voice-acting by Katie Crown and Andy Samberg. Junior, in particular, is well written and has a level of depth that the grown-up audience can appreciate.
The film is animated with a cheerful and distinct style, occasionally indulging in the beauty of animation, with storks soaring through various cities and landscapes across the world in breathtaking quality.
After all the mayhem, Storks also manages to tug gently at the heartstrings, comically touching on various trials and tribulations of parenthood, and even poignantly stressing the importance of quality time with children. A sentimental montage celebrates families in all their forms, subtly including same-sex and single parents.
Storks is gloriously absurd, with incessant chaos and one-liners, a brilliant array of eccentric characters, and peppered with heartwarming respite, it delivers a great all round family film.
Image: David Shankbone; flickr.com