If you’re looking for a movie the whole family can enjoy, go see “Storks,” the newly released animated feature written and directed by Nicholas Stoller. The movie begins in an Amazon-like warehouse run by a business called Corner Store Inc. Corner Store ships packages around the world. The shippers are storks, birds who once delivered babies and now deliver smart phones and the other appliances and electronics that fill our houses the way children might once have done. The baby-delivery business has been shut down for eighteen years, ever since a delivery went awry, leaving a family without their baby, and the storks with a single human they call Orphan Tulip (Katie Crown.) She is about to be “liberated,” in the business-speak of boss stork Hunter (Kelsey Grammer) and sent out into the world. Hunter’s henchman is Junior (Andy Samberg) a corporate striver who struggles with human, that is, avian, feelings. Junior can’t bring himself to fire Orphan Tulip, so he exiles her to the abandoned mail room, the place where letters once arrived from families wanting babies.
Orphan Tulip’s story intersects with the story of a little boy named Nate (Anton Starkman), whose workaholic parents appear to have their earbuds permanently implanted. They are always on the phone, doing one real estate deal after another. The mother, Sarah (Jennifer Anniston), assures one caller that she can be reached any time, nights, holidays, weekends, even Christmas Day. Nate is lonely, and wishes he had a little brother as a playmate. In a solitary foray to the attic he finds an old pamphlet with directions for requesting a baby from the stork. Nate takes the pamphlet, writes a letter requesting a “baby brother with ninja skills,” and mails the letter, where it falls into Orphan Tulip’s hands. Orphan Tulip sends the letter through the abandoned equipment and a baby arrives in the warehouse now devoted to consumer goods.
Junior decides they must deliver the baby as soon as possible, so that, come Monday, he can assume his coveted new role as boss of the warehouse, taking over from Hunter, who is being, once again, promoted. Trouble is, Junior has injured his wing and can’t fly. So Orphan Tulip has to help him. Their quest — to deliver the baby — changes both of them, beginning with their change of attitude towards the baby, with whom they fall in love.
Storks has given us a bright and entertaining antidote to that crabbed doctrine of a love that has only room for this many and no more.
And that’s really the story “Storks” has to tell: babies are a gift. They are beautiful and exhausting and fun and they bring out a sweetness even in the most voracious wolves. Really. The plot involves a pack of hungry wolves who set out to capture and devour the trio, only to fall in love with the baby. The wolves, led by their dueling alphas (Keegan Michael Key and Jordan Peele) provide some of the best laughs in the movie, as their wolf pack morphs into everything from a bridge to a submarine to a mini-van in their attempts to capture the baby they call “Tiny Thing” and bring her back to be raised as one of them.
“Storks” is a silly, slapstick movie that is also deeply pro-life. When a blow to the baby-making equipment sends babies cascading down the chute, babies who have not been ordered, the storks initial dismay turns to delight as they see them all before them. Then the storks, directed by Junior, set out to find homes for each and every one. “Every child a wanted child,” Planned Parenthood preaches, with the unspoken, but very real understanding that is no room for the unwanted (by which, they mean unplanned, or in “Storks” speak, unordered) child. Though the makers of “Storks” may not have intended it, they have given us a bright and entertaining antidote to that crabbed doctrine of a love that has only room for this many and no more. (Though endless room, it seems, for electronic devices.) When the babies make their way through the skies in the beaks of the storks, they find welcome everywhere, in likely and unlikely families. Nate’s unhappiness with a sister instead of the brother he had ordered, soon turns to joy. And when Tulip Orphan at last finds her human family, she is embraced by a welcoming crowd that reaches out to embrace Junior, her stork brother, as well.
Though “Storks” may raise some questions of where babies do, in fact, come from with younger children, there is no overt sexuality and no bad language. There are some threatening scenes with the wolves and an errant stork, but these are resolved happily and with no violence. We recommend this film for all families with kids 5 and up.