Instead of being an animation movie with subliminal messages to influence kids, Storks is a movie with blatant messages to reassure parents, but which will also delight the little ones. Storks challenges the corporate culture where anything baby or child related is seen as an economic weakness by using two parallel stories.
In the main story we have Cornerstone, a large corporation that two decades ago used to fulfil the storks’ calling by delivering babies to their families, Cornerstone is now a big box retailer delivering lucrative consumer products. Andy Samberg voices Junior, a manager stork up for promotion.
Previously, one of the storks fell too deeply in love with a baby and accidently destroyed her identity chip resulting in Orphan Tulip being left in the care of Cornerstone. She turns eighteen, and Junior’s first job as boss is to fire her, but instead he creates a faux-role for her in the company. She ends up receiving a letter from a little boy, Nate, and answers his request for a baby sibling. She revives the baby-making machine and out pops an adorable, pink-haired, animated baby girl! Orphan Tulip and Junior are stuck delivering the adorable baby to Nate’s family and embark on an adventure, hiding the event from Cornerstone’s CEO and jumping over hurdles like flight issues, bad weather, baby-obsessed-wolves, all in order to get the baby home. Their parental instincts kick in and the unlikely pair stop bickering for a moment to help put the baby to sleep and to distract her long enough to feed her.
There are other fun inside jokes that will resonate with parents, like one particular action sequence where our heroes fight evil penguins who are trying to kidnap the baby. The entire high-tension fight scene is done in hilarious silence, all because both sides share a common goal – not to wake the sleeping baby.
Meanwhile, Nate’s family comprises Ty Burrell and Jennifer Aniston, a pair of workaholic realtor. He gives up vying for his parent’s attention and instead, focuses all his attention on having a sibling to love. There are excellent moments here, executed with wit, and humour, as Nate dishes poignant and precocious lines like, “You’ll only be my idol for like, two more years” to get his father’s help in building a landing strip for the storks to deliver the baby sibling. The family slowly comes together to build this fun, landing strip project in a series of excellent, entertaining, colourful sequences.
Eventually, Cornerstone intercepts the pink-haired baby, holding her captive while Junior and Orphan Tulip go all out to save her. They unleash the power of the baby-making machine and millions of old baby-wishes are fulfilled, with millions of babies being produced and waiting for delivery to their longing families. The entire Cornerstone is filled with babies, and the storks rally in the face of these vulnerable babies. They rediscover their true calling to deliver babies and Nate’s family rediscovers what it means to have family time.
Junior’s anti-hero is hardly endearing, with his self-centred, emotional wall building, alpha-male ways, but this is neutralised by Orphan Tulip’s open and unassuming love. The script, by co-director Nicholas Stoller, is brilliant at deadpan humour and unapologetic in its message. While the first half of the film might make a more critical audience start comparing it to other award-winning animations we have seen in recent years, the second half certainly delivers. The animation is also spot on with good-old-fashioned cuteness, and scores in the tear-jerking department right at the end when millions of desired, dream babies start making their way across the night skies to a variety of traditional and non-traditional families of every country and race, where they are embraced with love and absolute wonder.
The final unspoken sentiment resonates in this well-animated scene – the opportunity to hold and love a child is priceless. Even the storks realise that and so should we.
Time to get a little creative!