‘What You Should Know’ is a Rotoscopers series that gives you a detailed and (somewhat) objective rundown of this year’s animated films, right before or on the day they hit theaters. That way, you can make an educated decision of whether or not to see the movie based on the information provided.
DIRECTED BY: Nicholas Stoller and Doug Sweetland
WRITTEN BY: Nicholas Stoller
STARRING: Andy Samberg (Junior), Katie Crown (Tulip), Kelsey Grammar (Hunter), Keegan-Michael Key and Jordan Peele (Alpha and Beta), Anton Starkman (Nate Gardner), Jennifer Aniston (Sarah Gardner), Ty Burrell (Henry Gardner), Stephen Kramer Glickman (Pigeon Toady), and Danny Trejo as Jasper.
MUSIC BY: Jeff and Mychael Danna
STUDIO: Warner Bros. Pictures
PRODUCTION COMPANIES: Warner Animation Group/RatPac-Dune Entertainment/Stoller Global Solutions
PRODUCTION BUDGET: $70 million
WHAT’S IT ABOUT?:
Storks is Warner Animation Group trying their hand at Pixar’s classic ‘What if?’ story premise. In this case, what if the myth of storks delivering babies were true, but somewhere along the way that practice turned into a business venture for the titular birds involved? Within that setup, a stork named Junior and his human best friend, and fellow employee, Tulip have to deliver a baby the old-fashioned way.
A BRIEF HISTORY:
Storks was the first original project announced by Warner Animation Group back in 2013. The film was an idea that Stoller brought to the studio and developed under the newly-minted banner. Doug Sweetland, an up-and-coming animator who made waves at Pixar with Presto, was then recruited to co-direct.
IMPORTANT STUFF TO KNOW:
In a rarity for feature animation, Andy Samberg and Katie Crown did some of their recording sessions together in the sound booth. This was because their characters were already very developed.
It was decided early on that the baby of the story would be a girl. This was because Stoller himself is a father of two daughters.
As co-directors, Stoller and Sweetland focused on their singular strengths whilst crafting the movie together. For Stoller, it was vocal performances. For Sweetland, it was the visual style and the animation.
If the character designs look somewhat familiar to you, that’s because the animation for Storks was provided by Sony Pictures Imageworks. There was a rumor floating around for sometime that the movie was originally being developed at Sony Pictures, but this was never substantiated.
For starters, Warner Animation Group has a lot of goodwill anticipation coming off of The LEGO Movie and heading into The LEGO Batman Movie. Nicholas Stoller’s comedic sensibilities have yielded hits like Forgetting Sarah Marshall, Get Him to the Greek, The Muppets and sequel, The Five-Year Engagement, and most recently Neighbors 1 and 2. On the other side, Pixar’s Presto established Doug Sweetland as an exciting, in-demand newcomer.
With Kubo and the Two Strings and The Wild Life gone, Storks has kids and family audiences all to itself until DreamWorks Animation’s Trolls on November 4. On top of that, the late September has historically been a good month for animated features, as kids are already settled into the school year and their parents can choose what movies to see on a given weekend. The Hotel Transylvania movies have made a collective $165 million, all off the strength of strong opening weekends on their respective dates (September 28 and 25).
To top it off, Andy Samberg, Keegan-Michael Key and Jordan Peele are all comedic actors with dedicated fanbases, a factor that could potentially drive up turnout.
Nicholas Stoller has his share of hits, but he also has his misses (Gulliver’s Travels and Zoolander 2). While those films are not indicative of his talents as a filmmaker, he can go either way depending on what material he’s given.
Sony’s The Magnificent Seven, the first of the Fall blockbuster-style movies, is expected to take the wind out of Storks’ box-office sails, but only by a little.
This one isn’t necessarily a con, but it’s important to note. After The LEGO Movie, Storks will be Warner Animation Group’s big test as to whether or not they can pull off an original feature film. Both the box-office numbers and critical reception could very well determine how their future original features are made and produced.
This should be good news for WAG: current tracking estimates suggest that the film might be on course for one of the biggest September debuts for an animated feature, with numbers that range anywhere between $30-35 million or more (more modest estimates place the film somewhere between $20-$25 million).
On a budget of $70 million, a little higher than The LEGO Movie‘s $60 million, that’s pretty solid. It helps that strong matinees for the film on Thursday night previews allowed it to rake in $435,000, beating a record set by DreamWorks Animation’s The Croods ($265,000).
WHAT THE CRITICS ARE SAYING:
While overall opinion leans toward the positive on this movie, the critics appear to be a bit sharply divided on this one. On Rotten Tomatoes, Storks has a 62% ‘Fresh’ rating, with the critical consensus stating: “Colorful animation and a charming cast help Storks achieve a limited liftoff, but scattershot gags and a confused, hyperactively unspooled plot keep it from truly soaring.”
If you’re hoping for the same magic that made The LEGO Movie one of feature animation’s breakout hits, prepare to be mildly disappointed. If you’re looking for an entertaining hour and a half that’s filled with wild comedic energy, creative visuals (courtesy of Sweetland), and decent storytelling (courtesy of Stoller), then Storks is absolutely worth your time.
If this article has you interested in seeing Storks, buy your tickets here on Fandango.
Thank you for reading this installment of ‘What You Should Know’!
What do you think? Is Storks worth seeing in theaters?
Edited by: Kajsa Rain Forden