Storks is a 2016 American 3D computer-animated adventure buddy comedy film produced by Warner Animation Group, RatPac-Dune Entertainment and Stoller Global Solutions. It is directed by Nicholas Stoller and Doug Sweetland (in his feature debut), written by Stoller and stars the voices of Andy Samberg, Katie Crown, Kelsey Grammer, Keegan-Michael Key, Jordan Peele, Jennifer Aniston, Ty Burrell, Danny Trejo and Stephen Kramer Glickman.
The film premiered in Los Angeles on September 17, 2016 and was released by Warner Bros. Pictures on September 23, 2016 in 3D, IMAX and conventional formats.
Cornerstore is a place known for delivering babies and its employees are storks, along with other birds. The current CEO of Cornerstore, a stork named Hunter, discontinues the baby delivering business, seeing more profit by converting the company to a postal service. However, the last baby that was made before the baby production shut down is taken in by the company and they name her Tulip.
Eighteen years later, Tulip, now a teenager, is working to promote new ideas for Cornerstore, but they always backfire. Meanwhile, Junior, Cornerstore's top delivery stork, is about to be given his much coveted position as boss of Cornerstore while Hunter is about to be promoted as Chairman. In order to be promoted, Hunter demands that Junior discharge Tulip from the company, seeing as she is not needed anymore at Stork Mountain. Despite wanting his promotion very badly, Junior cannot find the heart to fire Tulip due to her kindness and hard work, therefore distracting her into believing that she is being transferred to the mail room as a kind of promotion, and ordering her to never leave it, to which she hesitantly obeys.
Meanwhile on Earth, a young boy named Nate Gardner feels lonely because his parents, Henry and Sarah, are too busy to spend time with him, and yearns for a younger brother. When his parents scoff at the idea, and he learns from an old brochure about Cornerstore and their former baby-making reputation, he writes a letter asking for a baby brother and sends it to Cornerstore. The letter makes its way to Tulip, who got so bored of waiting, disobeys Junior's orders and puts the letter in a slot just outside the room, which is revealed to be shut down baby factory (as she was supposed to put it in a containment of letters right next to her). Junior tries to intervene and stop the machine, but dislocates his wing in the process, and to their surprise, a baby girl is created inside a metal container, whom they later name Diamond Destiny.
Knowing that Hunter will cease his future position of becoming boss for creating an unauthorized infant and for not firing Tulip as he was supposed to do, Junior agrees to secretly help deliver Diamond Destiny. As Junior's wing is broken, they use Tulip's flying machine for transportation. When Tulip taunts Junior why he wants to become boss, he sees red, making Tulip become concerned for the safety of Diamond Destiny, and they crash into a frozen tundra. After a brief argument, Junior takes Diamond Destiny in the hopes of getting back to Cornerstore but is ambushed by two wolf leaders named Alpha and Beta and their pack and taken to their cave, where Tulip was also captured. The two manage to save Diamond Destiny, whom the wolves have fallen in love with, and escape.
Back at Cornerstore, an employee named Pigeon Toady learns of Diamond Destiny's existence. He goes after Junior and Tulip to get Diamond Destiny, in the hope that Hunter will fire Junior and he will get the promotion instead. Upon reporting back to Hunter, Toady and Hunter scramble the coordinates Junior and Tulip have been following to mislead them to a different location. After another brief encounter with the wolves, Junior and Tulip run into Jasper, a old stork that was ultimately responsible for Tulip being orphaned and the shut down of baby delivery after he broke her address beacon and wanted to keep her to himself. Jasper reveals that he had searched all of Tulip's lifetime attempting to fix the beacon that would show Tulip's home and that he needed the final piece which Tulip had on her the whole time. At this point, Junior reveals that he was supposed to fire Tulip, leaving her in tears. But, now knowing where her family is, Jasper decides to take her to be reunited with them while Junior sadly continues to deliver Diamond Destiny by himself.
Junior is captured and tied up by Hunter and his cronies at the false location and they kidnap Diamond Destiny. Tulip comes to rescue Junior without having met her family and the two resend themselves back to Cornerstore. After fighting an army of penguins, Junior and Tulip are chased into the abandoned baby making room and start up the machine as a distraction. As thousands of babies are being made, Hunter angrily comes at Junior and Tulip with a large body armor, but with the playful help of Diamond Destiny, Junior and Tulip cause the Cornerstore package factory to fall, taking Hunter with it and seemingly killing him.
Junior rallies the storks, as well as the other birds, to help deliver the babies to the families who wanted them including the Gardners, and upon delivering Diamond Destiny, Junior sees through a vision of what the infant will become to be: a woman that will love her family, take ninja class, and get married. At first, Nate is disappointed that he didn't receive a brother, but when he goes to feed Diamond Destiny, she flings the bottle across the street, therefore changing Nate's mind. The storks and former employees of Cornerstore reunite Tulip with her family, and she and Junior continue their job of delivering babies as co-bosses of Stork Mountain. In the end, every family now knows that storks deliver babies once again.
- Andy Samberg as Junior, a white stork working at Cornerstore as the company's top delivery stork.
- Katie Crown as Tulip, the only human worker at Cornerstore.
- Kelsey Grammer as Hunter, a white stork and the former executive CEO of Cornerstore.
- Keegan-Michael Key & Jordan Peele as Alpha and Beta, the leaders of the Wolf Pack, a tribe consisting of 100 wolves.
- Anton Starkman as Nate Gardner, a boy whose parents are busy and is surrounded by brotherhoods leaving him lonely.
- Jennifer Aniston as Sarah Gardner, Nate's mother who opposes the idea of a brother for work reasons.
- Ty Burrell as Henry Gardner, Nate's father who supports the idea of a brother for family reasons.
- Stephen Kramer Glickman as Pigeon Toady, a vicious pigeon working at Cornerstore, going after Junior and Tulip to stop the delivery of the baby.
- Danny Trejo as Jasper, a giant stork working at Cornerstore.
The project was first announced in January 2013, when Warner Bros. formed its animation "think tank" with some directors and writers to develop animated films, Nicholas Stoller was hired by the studio to create and write Storks, while Doug Sweetland was attached to direct the film. On April 20, 2015, Andy Samberg and Kelsey Grammer were added to the voice cast of the film, and it was announced that Stoller and Sweetland would co-direct the 3D film, while Stoller would produce the film along with Brad Lewis. The original idea film was developed under Warner Bros. Animation. Sony Pictures Imageworks will be the film's animation service. Keegan-Michael Key and Jordan Peele were also announced in the cast who provided their voices for the film. On June 15, 2016, Jennifer Aniston was announced in the cast.
The film was originally going to be released on February 10, 2017, which Warner Bros. had reset for The Lego Batman Movie. The film is currently scheduled to be released on September 23, 2016, which was previously set for The Lego Ninjago Movie, which has now moved to a year later. Storks will be proceeded by The Master, a five-minute short film based on the Lego Ninjago line of sets.
In the United States and Canada, Storks is projected to gross around $30 million from 3,922 theaters in its opening weekend, which would make it one of the biggest September debuts for an animated film. The Hollywood Reporter noted that in recent decades, Warner Bros. hasn't been able to produce very successful and lucrative animated films except for The Lego Movie in 2014 and that the studio is hoping Storks would duplicate that success.
Internationally, the film will open in conjuncture with its North American debut across 34 foreign territories, including the likes of Russia, China, India and Japan.
On review aggregator Rotten Tomatoes, the film has an approval rating of 57%, based on 54 reviews, with an average rating of 6.3/10. On Metacritic, which assigns a normalized rating, the film has a score of 55 out of 100, based on 26 critics, indicating "mixed or average reviews".
Michael Rechtshaffen of The Hollywood Reporter gave the film a positive review and said: "There's a nice, snappy playfulness in the rapport between Samberg and engaging newcomer Crown. That lively, back-and-forth vibe also extends to the Aniston/Burrell and Key/Peele dynamic." Peter Hartlaub of San Francisco Chronicle wrote: "Whoever is running Warner Animation Group appears to be allowing the lunatics to run the asylum. And that is a wonderful thing." Tom Russo of The Boston Globe gave the film 3 stars out of 4 and said "Storks are known for delivering bundles that are irresistible, exhaustingly active at times, and frequently pretty darn messy. How completely appropriate, then, that Warner Bros.' 3-D animated feature "Storks" delivers the same."
Owen Gleiberman of Variety gave the film a mixed review and called it "a strenuously unfunny animated comedy." Samantha Ladwig of IGN gave the film 4.5/10 and said "Storks starts off well enough and delivers a few laughs, but ultimately it isn’t quite sure of what it is." Jesse Hassenger of The A.V. Club noted the "filmmakers’ assumption...that if lines are said very fast and in silly voices, they will become funny," and criticized Warner Bros. for putting out a generic animation along the same, safe lines of what "other second-tier animation houses" are producing: "The Lego Movie brought with it the hope that the studio might reclaim some of the animation territory it has long ceded to other studios. Storks, though, is just another okay cartoon."
Joe Morgenstern of Wall Street Journal gave the film a negative review, saying "The whole movie seems to be on fast-forward, with crushingly brainless dialogue, hollow imagery and no way of slowing down the febrile action or making sense of the chaotic plot." Barbara VanDenburgh of The Arizona Republic said, "Storks is charmless with rote obligation. This is a kid’s film for hire, with none of the creativity, emotion and design that elevate the genre to art, or even simply a fun time at the movies."
- This is the first Warner Animation Group film to be animated feature created by Sony Pictures Imageworks.
Home Video releaseEdit