There's a lovely, subtle joke early in Storks when, in response to the question "why don't storks deliver babies any more", the answer is "because there are better ways to get babies". A gentle, knowingly sly sex gag that will go over the heads of the kids but is sure to elicit a giggle or two from the parents in the audience. And that's the beauty of Storks - there is loads of humour for both segments of the audience.
Storks is based on that old myth that babies were delivered by storks – stories told by parents who really didn't want to tell their kids the truth about birth, death and sex. Of course, in this world, babies really are delivered by storks … or, at least, they used to. Now the storks deliver packages for the Amazon-like internet conglomerate Cornerstore.com. The company boss, Hunter (Kelsey Grammer), is about to retire and has picked Junior (Andy Samberg), the company’s top delivery stork, to be his replacement. Junior has one simple task to ensure his promotion - fire Tulip (Katie Crown), an "orphaned" human living with the storks (long story, which is all explained in the film) and who is somewhat of a klutz. Long story short, he sidelines her to the mailroom instead of sacking her, she accidentally activates the long-dormant Baby Making Machine, an adorable baby girl is produced and so Junior and Tulip must deliver her to parents Sarah (Jennifer Aniston) and Henry (Ty Burrell) before Hunter learns what's happened.
From here, Storks settles down to being somewhat of a road movie, as these kinds of animated films often are. But it does have one trick up its sleeve - being a production of Warner Bros Animation (which made the brilliant LEGO Movie a couple of years ago), the influnce of the studio's history is palpable. It's the studio that gave us the classic Merrie Melodies and Looney Tunes shorts, and was the home of probably the greatest cartoon maker ever - Chuck Jones, the man who invented Marvin the Martian, Pepe LePew, Wile E Coyote and The Road Runner. And you can feel that influence at work here, especially in a brilliant sequence where Junior and Tulip are being chased by a pack of arctic wolves, who want the baby for themselves. At various stages of the chase the wolves take the form of a bridge, a plane and a submarine, with hilarious results.
Writer-director Nicholas Stoller has strong comedy chops, being the man behind The Muppets, Bad Neighbours and Forgetting Sarah Marshall - and he really brings his comedy A-game to Storks. It's packed full of jokes, but it does get sentimental when it needs to, without being mawkish or cloying. The vocie cast is first rate, doing great work with the very funny material and having fun with the often absurd situations. Just as with WB's The LEGO Movie, Storks is an absolute delight and a must-see for animation lovers of all ages.