Warner Animation Group is a think tank started in 2013 that featured some of the most brilliant creative minds of today (Phil Lord, Chris Miller, Glenn Ficarra, Nicholas Stoller) and designed to put Warner Bros. back on the animation map. Their first flick, The LEGO Movie, was a critical and commercial juggernaut that proved the group could pull off a great movie. The only question was if they knew what to do moving forward. Some of the projects they announced were questionable at best (LEGO cinematic universe, CG Scooby-Doo movie directed by Dax Shepard), so it was obvious that they’d need another hit to prove they were capable. Enter Storks, the 2nd film in the WAG canon. Did they pull it off again?
Well, sort of. Before getting into my own opinions on it, it got pretty good reviews, but I don’t think anyone holds it in the same regard as The LEGO Movie. And while it made back its $70 million production budget, it won’t be breaking any records. It’s not bad at all, but in a year full of stellar animated movies (Zootopia, Sausage Party, Kubo, Finding Dory, and the timeless classic, Space Dogs 2), it’s destined to fall by the wayside.
And the thing is, it’s pretty good. The animation is absolutely phenomenal. For all its cartoony antics, it manages to remain visually stunning, pretty much from start to finish. It even stands out among the current crop of animated films with its bright colors and well-thought-out framing. I think this is going to be Warner’s calling card moving forward, along with bringing a more satirical, self-referential tilt to children’s animation than any other major studio is offering.
On the other hand, it could be said that, while the Master opening short packs that in spades, Storks doesn’t really have much humor. This is especially surprising given the film’s writer and director, Nicholas Stoller, whose previous works include Neighbors, Get Him to the Greek, and the past two Muppet movies. Maybe all the good jokes were spoiled in the trailers, or maybe Stoller was just trying to take it in a different direction, but while the film’s social commentary on how capitalism dissuades people from wanting to have kids is on par with LEGO, it lacks the fast-paced humor that made it such a fun time.
Don’t get me wrong: the film itself is intensely fast-paced. Important details fly by the screen. Plotlines go off the rails and remain unresolved the rest of the movie. This frenetic pacing has its ups and downs, but ultimately works to the film’s favor, making the major pitfalls of its writing seem sort of insignificant.
Overall, Storks is endearing, fun, thought-provoking, all that, but it’s not the validating boon that WAG was hoping for. I’ll give it a solid B.