[Screen It]


(2016) (voices of Andy Samberg, Katie Crown) (PG)

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Computer Animated Comedy/Adventure: A stork looking to move up the command chain at his delivery company tries to contain the problems caused when a human accidentally activates the previously shuttered baby making machine the storks once used to deliver children to new parents.
Junior (voice of ANDY SAMBERG) is a stork who works at CornerStore.com, an electronic commerce and delivery company. They once solely delivered human babies to new parents, but adopted a new business model after one of those delivery storks, Jasper (voice of DANNY TREJO), wanted to keep a baby for himself and inadvertently damaged her home delivery tracker, essentially orphaning her. Now eighteen years later, Tulip (voice of KATIE CROWN) has grown up in the factory, but her attempts at helping out always result in dips in revenue. Accordingly, the warehouse boss, Hunter (voice of KELSEY GRAMMER), wants Junior to fire her, but despite being up for Hunter's job now that he's moving up, the stork can't do it.

Instead, he reassigns her to the mail room that barely gets any use anymore. But one such mailed letter then arrives from young Nate Gardner (voice of ANTON STARKMAN) who wants his busy real estate agent parents, Henry (voice of TY BURRELL) and Sarah (voice of JENNIFER ANISTON), to give him a baby brother. Having found an old pamphlet about storks delivering such babies, Nate fires off a letter. Tulip receives it and accidentally puts it in the wrong slot, thus inadvertently activating the long-shuttered baby making machine.

When Junior realizes this, he goes into full panic mode and decides he'll just quietly deliver the child. But with a recently injured wing, he can't fly, and thus needs the help of Tulip and the plane she's built. They take off, unaware that their nerdy, rule-following co-worker Pigeon Toady (voice of STEPHEN KRAMER GLICKMAN) has figured out what's happened and wants to stop them. They must also deal with various other obstacles and setbacks along the way, including a run-in with a pack of wolves led by Alpha (voice of KEEGAN-MICHAEL KEY) and Beta (voice of JORDAN PEELE) who find the baby adorable and want to keep the child for themselves.

OUR TAKE: 6.5 out of 10
Much like most people will hear of a new product or service and ask themselves why they didn't think of and/or invent that, screenwriters do the same when they hear certain so-called "high concept" movie ideas. Such is the case with "Storks" where writer/director Nicholas Stoller apparently took the fact of growing online shopping and home delivery and extrapolated that back to the first home deliveries.

Those, of course, would be babies, and I'm not talking about birthing children at home, but rather the old notion of storks delivering bundles of joy to homes worldwide. And since they were so good at that, why wouldn't they have naturally progressed into delivering other things as well? That's the jumping off point for this funny, cute, engaging and sometimes emotionally touching flick from Stoller and co-director Doug Sweetland.

Granted, they don't ever get into the matter of how storks were ever associated with the arrival of new babies (an Internet search for just that reveals all sorts of ideas beyond the obvious one of hiding from young minds the actual process that creates kids), but we learn early on that such a delivery went awry in the past.

With the parent tracking device accidentally destroyed, the child was essentially orphaned and had to grow up in the factory that eventually shut down the baby making machine and transitioned into an Amazon type retail business. That orphan grew up into Tulip (voiced by Katie Crown) who's just a variation of the typical gangly and awkward but eager and good-hearted female teenager character often found in animated flicks.

When the factory boss (voiced by Kelsey Grammer) wants her fired (due to anything she does resulting in a drop of sales), he orders his underling (Andy Samberg) to do the job. But Junior has a soft spot for Tulip and thus hides her away in the long-shuttered baby factory that's also home to the rarely used mailroom for mailed-in baby requests.

As luck would have it, a young boy (Anton Starkman) wants a baby brother to be his ninja sidekick and, after finding an old pamphlet about storks and babies, fires off a letter to the factory, unbeknownst to his parents (Jennifer Aniston and Ty Burrell, the later again typecast as a real estate agent). Tulip receives it and accidentally puts it into the wrong slot, thus activating the baby machine that cranks out one child. Needing to deliver that child or lose his job, Junior secretly sets off with Tulip to do so.

But they must contend with a nerdy little do-gooder pigeon (Stephen Kramer Glickman) who's on to what's happened, as well as a pack of wolves led by two alpha males (Keegan-Michael Key & Jordan Peele) whose parental instincts kick in (in hilarious ways, especially as the pack goes all Transformers as needed) while in the presence of said child.

Hijinks and hilarity then ensue -- including some moments that get a bit too hyperactive for my tastes, but not enough to ruin anything -- as the 90-some minute film runs its course. And in doing so it will likely leave a smile on your face, a possible tear in your eye, and a warm and fuzzy feeling all over, at least for all but the grinches of the movie-watching world. I wasn't expecting a great deal from "Storks," but it manages to deliver a winning experience. The film rates as a 6.5 out of 10.

Reviewed September 10, 2016 / Posted September 23, 2016

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