Storks review: The truth about the birds and the bees

Storks do and don’t deliver babies in this confused though lively animated film

The official trailer for Storks, featuring the voices of Andy Samberg, Kelsey Grammer and Jennifer Anniston, has been released. Video: Warner Bros.

Baby talk

Film Title: Storks

Director: Nicholas Stoller, Doug Sweetland

Starring: Andy Samberg, Katie Crown, Kelsey Grammer, Keegan-Michael Key, Jordan Peele, Jennifer Aniston, Ty Burrell, Danny Trejo, Stephen Kramer Glickman

Genre: Animation

Running Time: 87 min

Thu, Oct 13, 2016, 13:22

   

Is it wrong for a grown-up critic to get pernickety over the logic of a universe wherein talking birds are major players in global parcel delivery? Well, if questioning the cartoon fowls is wrong, I don’t want to be right.

As Storks opens, the feathered waders have, under the guidance of hawkish chief executive Hunter (Grammer, in fine, bellowing form, quit the baby-delivering game to focus on parcels. A series of misadventures brings the heroic Junior (Andy Samberg) and his bumbling human sidekick Tulip (Katie Crown) accidentally back into the baby distribution business.

Will the mismatched pair make it across the tundra without Hunter finding out? And will Nate, the lonely son of busy estate agents (Ty Burrell and Jennifer Aniston), ever receive the ninja sibling he wished for?

So far, so convoluted. But here’s the rub. If storks haven’t been delivering babies for years, then shouldn’t the human world resemble the one in Children of Men? How has all the reproduction occurred in their absence? And if humans don’t need storks to deliver babies, then what is the point of all this?

Working alongside former Pixar animator Doug Sweetland, Nicholas Stoller (the writer-director behind Get Him to the Greek and Bad Neighbours 2: Sorority Rising) can’t untangle the film’s messy mythology, but he can add plenty of incident and a few zingers. Samberg and Crown make for an excellent, snappy bickering duo, and a great supporting voice cast includes Danny Trejo as Tulip’s crazed pursuer.   

Commendably, the animation is not afraid to be just that. The appearance of a 100-strong wolf pack who arrange themselves into increasingly surreal shapes – suspension bridge, submarine – makes a welcome change from the odd, counterintuitive realism that governs most contemporary animated features.

Still, we expected better from the studio that gave us The Lego Movie. Rather worrying, Storks is preceeded by The Master, a disappointing five-minute short based on Lego’s Ninjago line. The Lego Batman Movie and The Lego Ninjago Movie are due next year. Must try harder.