I am always hit with a wave of nervousness whenever around a baby or toddler, as I fear I might do or say something around the impressionable infant which could scar them for life. The folks responsible for the 3-D animated feature Storks, however, have no such aversion. After sitting through its 89 minutes of intended entertainment, I wish they had.
The plot centers around Junior (annoyingly voiced by Andy Samburg), an anthropomorphic bird in line for a promotion in the stork enterprise, Cornerstone, which has transitioned from the delivery of personal bundles-of-joy into drone-like transport of consumer goods. Junior is asked by his boss (Kelsey Grammer) to get rid of Tulip (Katie Crown), who was the last baby the corporation was to deliver but instead remained at company headquarters for years after her intended destination was lost. Our hero cannot bring himself to dispense of the now-teenage girl, and things get even more complicated when a young boy submits an obsolete form requesting a baby brother. The delivery gets inadvertently processed, leaving Junior and his liege to correct the oversight before he can ascend the corporate ladder.
Hilarity is supposed to ensue, but for me it never did. Unlike some of my colleagues, I have no disdain for animated children’s films and generally like them as long as they are not insulting to either my intelligence or that of the intended audience. Sadly, the first big laugh Storks received at the screening I attended was an off-screen reference to urination — and the bar never moved much from there. The young tykes and their parents routinely had a Pavlovian reaction whenever a saccharine-sweet baby would appear, whereas I braced myself for yet another barrage of indulgent and insufferable cooing at the presumed cuteness.
Storks is almost forgivable if you can stomach such pandering to get to the performances of Danny Trejo and comedy duo Key and Peel renting their personas out for quick cash. Jennifer Aniston and Ty Burrell are not awful as parents indulging their son’s interest in a sibling, but the forced musical numbers and Samburg’s penchant for expository commentary on what just happened on-screen routinely combined to make me fear that one day I might be trapped in a minivan, surrounded by an army of preschoolers with a DVD of this dreck stuck playing on an endless loop.
The motto of the fictional business in Storks is “always deliver,” but for me this film never did. Only watch it as punishment for some grave injustice you actually committed in the presence of a child or if you want to keep our species stupid. Watching it in 3-D would only make the pain more real and maybe even make you weep for the future generations who might find this sort of thing funny. Rated PG for mild action and thematic elements.
Now playing at Carolina Cinemark, Epic of Hendersonville and Regal Biltmore Grande