Review – Delivery Guaranteed (“Storks”)

Frenetic, fast-paced, and loaded with stream-of-conscientiousness humor that is downright hilarious and sometimes just plain weird, Storks is the latest CG animated movie from WAG (Warner Animation Group), who also brought us the outrageously funny The Lego Movie.

From the gross-out and raucous sex-filled mind of Nicholas Stoller, who gave us the R-rated films Sex Tape and Neighbors 2: Sorority Rising, and the kids film, Muppets Most Wanted, comes this highly unusual kids comedy that is SO super-charged and quick-edited, that if you’re on acid watching this movie, you’re in BIG trouble!

We start off with the legendary story of storks and their baby-delivering prowess throughout the centuries, but soon head-honcho stork Hunter (voiced by Kelsey Grammer) abandons delivering babies in favor of delivering retail stuff like phones (think–only called His protege is Junior (Andy Samberg), a top-delivering, but high-strung and nervous stork that dreams of being the boss.

His first task before his big promotion? Fire the only human in the place: a quirky red-headed 18-year-old orphan girl named Tulip (Katie Crown), who’s a whiz at inventions, but is an accident waiting to happen. Lacking the nerve, Junior just transfers her to the abandoned baby-making facility. I mean, what could possible go wrong there, right?

Meanwhile, we catch up the Gardner family: super-busy real estate parents, Henry and Sarah (Ty Burrell and Jennifer Aniston), who are always blue-toothed connected, and their neglected 8-year-son, Nate (Anton Starkman) who desperately wants a baby brother… with ninja skills! Solution? Write a letter to the storks!

Through some ill-timing with Tulip and Nate’s letter, a baby girl is ‘made’ back at Stork Mountain, making Tulip ecstatic, but causing Junior to go ballistic and break a wing. If that baby isn’t delivered, his promotion is history! Fortunately, Tulip has built a make-shift airplane and off they go, but with a crazed giant stork named Jasper (Danny Trejo) and Pigeon Toady (Stephen Kramer Glickman), a brown-nosing little nerdy pigeon, both hot on their trail. Naturally, Tulip and Junior argue constantly and have the WORST time getting to their destination, not least of which is running into a humongous pack of wolves, lead by the goofy Alpha and Beta wolves (the hysterical Keegan-Michael Key and Jordan Peele). Their scenes are the highlight of the movie.

The baby, named Diamond Destiny by Tulip, has an uncanny effect on anyone who looks at her, instantly making them go all “awwwwww” with gigglyness, not to mention making the traveling Tulip and Junior turn into instant parents, learning the ropes of raising a baby on the run. All this happens while we see Nate back home, conniving and guilt-tripping his parents into just spending time with him, with unexpected heartfelt results. Pretty soon, Hunter finds out about the baby and wants the kid silenced, causing nothing but problems, kidnappings, dramatic fights, and eventual hearts being broken. But, yeah, there’s a happy ending, so…

Written, produced, AND directed all by Stoller (with Doug Sweetland as co-director), this animated ‘kids’ film took me totally by surprise. The writing was over-the top sharp, intelligent, and ridiculously entertaining. No dumbing-down plot expositions, no crass lower common-denominator ‘fart or poop jokes’ thrown in, and NO cutsie dialoge or stupid secondary side-story! Not only that, but the story(s) kept moving at such a fast pace, I never knew what was going to happen next, causing the “whoa! I didn’t see that coming!” effect. Something you don’t see everyday in a children’s film.

Stoller throws in SO many funny sight gags, POV shots, and smash-cuts, it’s impressive. Best part is, they’re all a riot. Many will go right over the heads of the young’un’s, as all us adults in the audience were laughing pretty hard. Samberg and Crown (although animated) have amazing chemistry and you buy into their characters from the very start. And those wolves? I nearly lost a lung laughing so hard at them; who knew they could turn into a suspension bridge and a boat? Yes, it has some pretty massive plot holes you can drive a truck though, but the next scene makes you forget all about it. It’s worth your $$ to go see this, but be prepared to explain to your kid about where babies really come from afterwards. Hint: it ain’t the stork!

Cast Away (2000)

Delivering babies is one thing, but delivering packages on time and then having them make a pit stop on a deserted island for about five years, well… that’s a whole new ball game. This is the movie that made Wilson volleyballs super popular, FedEx stock go nuts, and made you think twice
about what really happened on Gilligan’s Island.Tom Hanks gives another bravura performance as Chuck Noland, a consummate businessman and time obsessed engineer with FedEx who, to prove  his companies efficiency, travels worldwide to show that FedEx gets their packages to their destinations on time… every time. His doting and caring girlfriend, Kelly (Helen Hunt) wants to marry the big lug, but can’t pin this guy down for two seconds. As Chuck takes off to Malaysia to fix a problem, they part ways, but she has no idea it’s the last time she’ll see him again.

One plane crash later, Chuck is washed up on a deserted island somewhere in the middle of nowhere and must fend for himself, all alone with only the FedEx packages that arrived on the shore with him. To survive, he rips open the packages and uses what he can inside, even making a BFF out of a volleyball he calls “Wilson”. All the packages, that is, save for one that he keeps closed, because of an unusual angel-wing design on the cover. In the ensuing months he makes fire (not an easy thing to do), catches fish and small crabs for dinner, drinks coconut milk, and finds a cave to sleep in. Oh, and he does some impromptu self-dentistry that is harrowing to watch.

Five years, bone-thin and scraggy-beard later, he finds a washed-up porta-potty and gets a brain-storm. He uses it to fashion a raft and sails away, losing his precious Wilson in the process, but finding a passing ship! Rescued, Chuck is returned to civilization and his home, only to find Kelly married someone else (well, everyone thought he was dead, right?). After a bittersweet reunion, Chuck is on his own, but first returns that mysterious FedEx package that he kept unopened to it destination. What was in it? What do YOU think?

To think a great screenplay like this was written by William Broyles, Jr., who also wrote the ludicrous 2001 Planet of the Apes reboot is mind-boggling. But he also wrote the fabulous Hanks-friendly The Polar Express, so there’s that. This movie, directed by Robert Zemeckis, is amazing. Not only did they shut down production so that Hanks could lose a ton of weight to play the five-years-later emaciated island version of Chuck, but Zemeckis made another movie (What Lies Beneath) in the interim! No wasting time there!


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