Storks (2016) FILM REVIEW
Written by Jambareeqi
Posted 3rd March, 2018
*WARNING: THIS REVIEW CONTAINS SPOILERS*
Long ago, storks used to deliver babies to parents, a tradition that became pretty overwhelming for the poor birds. Since then, Storks now focus on delivering packages to people, for a company called Cornerstone, and things seem simpler.
We focus on a successful stork called Junior, who has been promised a promotion to boss opportunity, but only if he can fire the orphan employee Tulip; who was a baby set to be delivered to her parents, but the map to her home was destroyed. However, Junior can’t find it in himself to fire Tulip, so he sends her to work in the old baby factory instead.
Meanwhile, a little boy called Nate is tired of not getting attention from his workaholic parents, so he sends a baby request letter to the storks, in hopes that he can get a little brother for company. Tulip receives the letter, naively responds to the application, and creates a new baby for the little boy.
Junior finds out, begins panicking about how this will effect his promotion, and agrees to work with Tulip to get the baby to her home, before the head honcho Hunter discovers the screw up. It won’t be easy though, as there’s also other animals after the adorable little tyke!
The movie is very cliched in terms of storytelling. Sure, the premise of giving Storks their own world is neat, but the narrative we’re provided with is pretty uninspired. There’s barely anything fresh or new in the tale being told, which makes the film feel distractingly unoriginal.
It’s about a bunch of characters with polarizing personalities, going on a road trip together to bring another character to a new destination, along the way, they become good friends, face antagonists who want the character they’re delivering, and fall in love with this character themselves. Is it just me, or does this story scream “Ice Age” and “Shrek”? Even more so Ice Age, because the character being dropped off is literally a baby.
“Storks” also features the way too overdone plot of the overworking parents, who must learn to take time for their child. I’m sorry, but I’m getting sick of this kind of plot, it’s like the go to template for most kids’ movies, and this plot is usually done REALLY bad too.
Now, the premise was done well in Coraline, as Coraline had to learn to accept that her parents are busy for a good reason, aren’t bad people for taking their jobs seriously, will have busy periods at work that’ll drain them, and will give her love when things calm down. Also, she discovers that she can’t always be the centre of attention, and she can find friends outside her house while her folks are occupied.
In this movie though? The mom and dad literally abandon their jobs to spoil their kid silly, by recklessly helping turn their house into a launchpad for a stork, only to receive a cease & desist later on. Of course, this activity helps them restore their passion for parenting, and proves that they are capable of giving him attention, but it seems to be at the cost of risking the family’s business.
Yeah, these are exceptionally excessive workaholics, ones that proudly say they love working 24/7, but there needs to be a compromise if these two are going to improve, one that respects the child’s needs AND keeps the financial security of the family in mind.
Yes, kids deserve love, but they also need to be fed and sheltered! Parents can’t just simply go “Fuck it, screw my boss, my baby boy wants to play dinosaurs today” on a whim, as much as I’m sure they’d love to.
It’s like this film thinks that there’s only two realistic options, keep working like the monstrous devil you are or stop EVERYTHING for your perfect royal children, and there’s no third option where a sensible pre-organized arrangement can be made. As if you’re a beast of a parent, if you don’t spontaneously put your business on the line for an arts & crafts day with the kid. In life, there’s not simply only two doors that read “Awful Parent, but financially secure” or “Bad Businessman, but good parent”, you can be a good mom or dad AND excel at your paying job.
There’s not even a reassuring conclusion, where maybe these parents will start making a compromised schedule for the family from now on, implying that these two maybe plan on keeping this free spirited “Fun Parent” approach as a permanent lifestyle. If so, what’s the backup for finances? Ask a fairy to spray pixie dust on their bills & fridge?
I mean, we never see them worrying about their lost customers that day, do they care that this’ll anger their loyal patrons? And they’ll maybe get a bad rep for their poor customer service? This film doesn’t seem to think about those reality based repercussions.
Heck, Nate is kind of a brat too, always moaning that he’s having to play alone, and that his parents should keep him constantly entertained, but why doesn’t he just go out and make some friends? He’s old enough to do so, and nothing seems to be stopping him. Yes, his parents are being selfish workoholics, I sympathise with that, but guilting his parents into both ignoring their jobs today AND getting a new baby? Wow, self entitled much kid?
By the end, he’s pretty much handed a younger sibling, something he always demanded, making the lesson seem like “If your child wants something, give it to them, even if you end up having to risk your livelihood & house”, which isn’t realistic or healthy advice to give parents at all! If all adults followed this film’s philosophy, the world would fall apart.
A better lesson, would be to teach Nate that it’s okay to be an only child, to respect that work is important to his parents, and to fulfill his social needs from people outside his family when they are occupied with important tasks. While the parents just needed to be taught to find a way to compromise both work & family life, for their own health as well as their son’s happiness.
The Cliches don’t stop there though, there’s also a twist at the end, where we learn that our hero’s employer is committing a conspiracy, to make sure the company goes in his own direction *cough* Monsters Inc *cough*. As I said, there’s not really any remarkable ideas for this film, it’s mainly just concepts or beats that remind me too heavily of other movies I’ve seen.
Now, don’t get me wrong, I do not expect EVERY movie to be 100% original, that’d be an unfair standard to reach, but I also think there should be a line where a film becomes TOO unoriginal. I also wouldn’t say that “Storks” is intentionally ripping these films off, that card is played way too many times, Storks’ ambitions just weren’t high enough, that’s all, and the end result shows a movie that didn’t think that far outside the box.
In spite of all this though, I quite enjoyed this movie! Beneath the super duper conventional narrative, there’s a lot of good things about this film. To start with, this is one hell of a funny movie, a downright hilarious film that got LOADS of laughs out of me. Does it try too hard sometimes? Sure! These characters can have a habit of rambling, as they try to awkwardly grasp for a good joke, but the solid gut punchers outweigh the flat sinkers in my opinion.
A pack of wolves after the baby are the real scene comedic stealers though, because they try to be aggressively defensive, but there’s something goofy and sweet about them behind their feral behavior. I can’t count how many times I laughed when they would form together into different vehicles, that was hilarious!
It’s also a film that’s surprisingly more relatable to adults than kids. It touches on common life question that adults face: Do I really want to reach the highest pillar of my career? Is this really my true calling? If so, what will I even do when I get to that goal? It’s pretty deep stuff, and I’m sure grown ups will love being spoken to like this.
Even if this aspect isn’t as explored as it could have been, the conclusion we’re given is still endearingly poignant, reflecting on how we need to find careers that tap into our hearts, and that it’s not only healthy to open up your emotions, but also beneficial for those who seek sincere connection with you. Not to mention, there’s also some parenting scenes that moms and dads will totally resonate with, because the baby raising sequences realistically reflect the kind of grievances & joys that parents face every night and day.
Now, I will admit that our characters aren’t anything new. Junior is an insecure neurotic using a macho bravado to hide his anxieties, which makes him seem like just another Bojack Horseman, but I guess it’s interesting seeing a G Rated Bojack haha! And there are some funny relatable moments regarding his very human social barriers.
While Tulip is your typical over-energetic animated female lead, there’s a charm to her enthusiasm, compassion, and dry sense of humor. My favourite scene of hers, is when she’s first given her baby factory job, where she ends up playing ALL of her co-workers, to help her feel less lonely, that was both sad and hilarious at the same time. More than anything, she feels abandoned, longing for social interaction, whether it’s from fellow employees or potential family, and some adults will know these feelings all too well.
To Conclude, “Storks” is VERY uninspired & wildly flawed, but it’s comedy is frequently golden, the babies in the film are undeniably cute, and adults will connect with the grown up issues that our characters are facing. I get why critics weren’t impressed by it, but at the same time, I understand why some audiences enjoyed it.
With a more unique narrative, maybe one far more focused on the adult concerns aspect, this COULD have been a really sophisticated & memorable film, but as it is? It’s just a good family comedy that’ll keep kids & parents entertained one afternoon, but then be possibly forgotten about not long later.