Sunday, February 25, 2018
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Review: Parents, get ready to explain the miracle of life to kids after 'Storks'

Parents have more explaining to do after Storks, a breezy animated exaggeration of where babies come from. Rather, where they came from before online shopping turned these nursing birds into delivery drones.

Storks presents the act of procreation as obsolete, a factory contraption banished to the basement of Cornerstore.com. In the old days, people wrote letters to storks, requesting infants delivered. Now those letters are piled up, unanswered, although I'm guessing babies were still being born. Smart children will, too.

Here's a suggestion, parents: Just say the wolf pack brought 'em.

That's no joke, but actually it's one of the funniest things about Nicholas Stoller's movie, a gang of canine predators going ga-ga when an accidentally conceived baby says goo-goo. Storks is like that, fun in spurts, with Stoller working much cleaner than he did in Neighbors and Forgetting Sarah Marshall.

The delivery wing of Cornerstore.com is commanded by Hunter (voice of Kelsey Grammer), a one-percenter trampling worker rights. Hunter is grooming his best delivery stork Junior (Andy Samberg) to succeed him in the position.

One test is having Junior fire Tulip (Katie Crown), the only human allowed on Stork Mountain, after her delivery was ruined by a mad stork named Jasper (Danny Trejo). Junior can't do it, stashing Tulip in a dead end job, out of Hunter's sight.

Meanwhile in the real world, young Nate (Anton Starkman) is routinely ignored by his workaholic parents (Jennifer Aniston, Ty Burrell). Nate wants a baby brother; his parents dodge the topic. Nate finds a vintage pamphlet urging baby requests to storks, and forges a letter.

Naturally, the letter crosses paths with Tulip and Junior, an adorable baby is created, and delivery must be made before Hunter finds out. That's a lot of narrative for a slim animated distraction to handle, so Storks doesn't try hard. Instead, Stoller gets into the Warner Bros. spirit and goes for Looney Tunes-style comedy. Notice the pauses and distanced perspective in some shots, recalling Wile E. Coyote's disasters. Or the Transformers-style absurdity of those wolves, voiced by Keegan Michael-Key and Jordan Peele.

It's occasional fun, but that's about all, folks.

Storks is a distinct improvement over the Lego short preceding it. The Master: A Lego Ninjago Short is a spoof of movie trailers, in this case a martial arts epic, with the title characters competing for top billing. The rewind button gets clicked too many times, and Jackie Chan's vocal casting wasn't even noticed until the end credits. Nothing is awesome.

Contact Steve Persall at [email protected] or (727) 893-8365. Follow @StevePersall.

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