Warner Bros. has officially ventured back into the world of animated features with “Storks,” their first big animated film since the hugely successful “LEGO Movie” in 2014. The film, directed by Nicholas Stoller (“Forgetting Sarah Marshall”) and veteran animator Doug Sweetland (“Toy Story,” “The Incredibles,” etc.), boasts an ensemble cast including Andy Samberg, Kelsey Grammar and Jennifer Aniston. Reviews are starting to fly in, and so far, consensus is mixed.
IndieWire’s own Eric Kohn gave the film a grade of a C, writing in his review that it’s “neither wacky enough to work as pure punchline, nor smart enough to bend its looniness into something more substantial, ‘Storks’ views the world with the same confused outlook of its wide-eyed infants.”
Owen Gleiberman of Variety saw the film as a letdown, considering the talent of the co-directors. He wrote in his review, “One of the major disappointments of ‘Storks’ is that it was written and directed by Nicholas Stoller with Doug Sweetland as co-director. Stoller, a live-action comedy filmmaker who has proved himself to be a brash and creative talent…Stoller has done a snappy job of directing both of Seth Rogen’s ‘Neighbors’ films as well as the heartfelt semi-autobiographical comedy ‘The Five-Year Engagement.’ But where Rogen and company moved into the animated sphere with supreme confidence and verve in the uproarious and outrageous ‘Sausage Party,’ in ‘Storks’ the challenge of working in a new medium seems to have blunted Stoller’s instincts for timing and imagination.”
Alonso Duralde of The Wrap viewed the film in a more positive light, complimenting the cast and the humor. “Warner Bros. may have some catching up to do in re-establishing itself as an animated powerhouse, but ‘Storks’ gave me some of the biggest laughs of any film so far this year, cartoon or live-action. It’s a worthy addition to the house Bugs and Daffy built,” he wrote in his review.
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Similarly, Scott Mendelson of Forbes enjoyed the film’s sense of humor, although he criticized the film’s uneven tone and somewhat muddled plot. He wrote in his review, “’Storks’ works best when it either goes for straight drama or embraces the Chuck Jones spirit but falters when it tries to cram itself into the conventional. All things considered, my kids laughed at the right spots, and I enjoyed the digressions enough to overlook the somewhat disjointed main plot.”
Entertainment Weekly’s Devan Coggan found the film to be a bit overstuffed with stars and, like Mendelson, the plot to be a somewhat uneven. However, Coggan overall, enjoyed the film and awarded it a grade of a B. Writing in her review, “the film’s lesson about finding your family never comes off as saccharine, and although there’s nothing particularly innovative about its message, ‘Storks’ is a little bundle of joy.”
Michael Rechtshaffen of The Hollywood Reporter found that the film did a good job of combining the comedic style of Stoller with the right dosage of sentimentality. He wrote, “While it doesn’t manage to hit the gleefully inspired heights of Lord’s and Miller’s ‘The LEGO Movie’ — let’s be honest, what has? — the team’s irreverent brand of humor is very much in play here, combined with a measured, organic sweetness that inescapably goes with the territory.
“Storks” is in theaters on Friday, September 23.