Storks a surprisingly snappy and contemporary comedy, says CBC's Eli Glasner
Cartoon with classic premise compensates with zany energy, inspired performances
At first glance Storks may seem like a cliché-ridden throwback; birds delivering babies in 2016?
But the newest cartoon from Warner Animation group is a surprisingly snappy and contemporary comedy. Like The Lego Movie (which hails from the same studio), Storks has a madcap and refreshingly modern sensibility. Part of that is credited to Nicholas Stoller, the co-director and writer better known for Seth Rogen bro-comedies.
This is a world where storks have transitioned into the package-delivery business. Junior (Andy Samberg) is an eager up-and-comer awaiting promotion by Hunter, an alpha-bird voiced with gusto by Kelsey Grammer.
But before Junior can take the reins, he needs to fire the accident-prone orphan Tulip (Katie Crown). When Tulip inadvertently creates a baby, however, they join forces to deliver the squishy package. Imagine Arthur Christmas — but with diaper jokes.
As generally the case with animated features today, Storks is stuffed with celebrity voices. Key and Peele turn up as baby-besotted wolves. Jennifer Aniston and Ty Burrell voice overworked parents blind to their son's loneliness.
But it's some of the lesser-known actors who truly make Storks sing, including Oakville, Ont., actress Crown, who invests Tulip with an infectious, can-do giddiness.
For singular strangeness, no one comes close to Pigeon Toady, voiced by Stephen Kramer Glickman (another Canadian). Toady is a insufferable bird, pecking his way into everything, waddling around with a Trumpian toupee and clip-on tie. The voice Glickman creates for the meddler sounds like Foghorn Leghorn drenched in California brah-speak.
From Toady's silly schemes to the movie's hilarious silent-penguin battle, Storks is filled with a refreshing weirdness that makes it a demented delight.
Yes, it devolves into magical sappiness by the end, but there's plenty of laughs along the way.
RATING: 3.5 out of 5 stars