Welcome, please, to a movie pitched in the key of FRANTIC!
All the action in the animated “Storks” proceeds at a fast-forward pace, and all the dialogue is delivered at a volume that’s high-high-high up there. I’m thinking that during the making of the movie no one ever told the cast, “No need to shout!”
Perched at the pinnacle of all the high-high-high-volume verbalizing are Andy Samberg and Katie Crown providing the voices for the two main characters, Junior, a gung-ho executive-on-the-rise stork and orphan Tulip, a super-enthusiastic 18-year-old with flame-red hair. But please don’t call her that. “Orphan,” she forlornly says at a lesser-decibel level, “hurts my heart.”
She’s the only human working a stork-run internet megacorp, Cornerstore. Think Amazon, only with storks as delivery vehicles rather than drones. Once upon a time the outfit delivered babies, but that wasn’t much of a profit center. So it’s cellphones and other pricey gizmos that are now flown on birdy wings to clients’ doors.
Exiled to the deactivated baby-manufacturing section of the company, Tulip, ever eager and always a bungler, accidentally reactivates the factory (which looks like something out of “The Matrix”) and out pops the cutest cooing magenta-haired bundle of joy animation has ever seen. The wee one must be delivered to a family, but on a hush-hush basis because if word ever gets out that babies are now back in Cornerstore’s inventory, Junior will forfeit his promotion to front-office big cheese. Babies are bad for the bottom line you see.
You don’t? Well, it’s quite complicated, this plot. And quite a bit of it doesn’t make much sense. And, as this is a PG-picture aimed squarely at young kids, it has the potential to spawn a million awkward conversations along the lines of, “Mommy, Daddy, did the stork bring me from the baby factory?” Parents, consider yourselves warned.
Junior and Tulip are a squabblesome pair, yoked together in the world-girdling effort to get baby to her family. Along the way, they encounter a wolf pack, voiced by Keegan-Michael Key and Jordan Peele. The critters are entranced by the adorable little tyke and want to raise the kid as their own. When Junior and Tulip hurry baby away, the wolves give chase, and as they do so, their cooperative nature kicks into highest gear and they form themselves into, among other things, a suspension bridge, an airplane and a submarine (their sonar beeping is a nice touch).
Who conceives of such a bizarro thing? Co-director (with Doug Sweetland) Nicholas Stoller, who penned the screenplay, that’s who. A fertile and very strange imagination the guy has.
The best part of the picture is Tulip, whose best scene comes early when she energetically mimics multiple character types — office gossip, human resources exec, among others — at rapid-fire speed. Laughs come in bunches, though the frenetic pacing does make the experience of sitting through “Storks” dizzying and just a little exhausting.
☆☆☆ out of 5
Cast: Featuring the voices of Andy Samberg, Katie Crown, Keegan-Michael Key and Jordan Peele.
Directors: Nicholas Stoller and Doug Sweetland.
Running time: 1:38.
Rated: PG, for mild action and some thematic elements.