Storks *** ½
Dir: Nicholas Stoller, Doug Sweetland
Starring: (voices of) Andy Samberg, Katie Crown, Kelsey Grammer, Jennifer Aniston, Ty Burrell, Stephen Kramer Glickman, Danny Trejo
From Warner Bros. Animation comes Storks. It appears storks have moved beyond the baby-delivery business and are now an avian Amazon rival, delivering packages to a consumption-oriented global populace. Junior (Adam Samberg) is in line to take over the business from the bombastic CEO Hunter (a funny Kelsey Grammar) – the only hitch being that he first has to get rid of the now-18 year old bubbly but bumbling human, Tulip (Katie Crown) who was never delivered to her parents as a baby. Matters get further complicated when Tulip manufactures a new human baby who has to be now delivered to her parents.
The movie is surprisingly funny and fun. The script may be a bit erratic but the jokes come fast and furious and most of them land on target. A particular delight is the wolf-pack that is hot on the trail of our intrepid protagonists, as they strive to deliver the newly born human package to the intended recipients.
Other characters also are a source of good-natured mirth while the movie’s message about the importance of family also works reasonably well.
Cut to chase: Surprisingly fun … and funny.
Sing ** ½
Dir: Garth Jennings, Christophe Lourdelet
Starring: (voices of) Matthew McConaughey, Reese Witherspoon, Seth MacFarlane, Scarlett Johansson, John C. Reilly, Taron Egerton, Tori Kelly
Sing, from Illumination Studios (the people behind Despicable Me and The Minions) has its moments but is mostly reliant on the conceit of cute animated animals singing perennially popular songs to keep the audience engaged.
Otherwise, the characters are fairly familiar movie tropes – Rosita (Reese Witherspoon) an overworked and underappreciated pig housewife and mother with unfulfilled dreams; Buster Moon (Matthew McConaughey), a koala bear and theatrical impresario who comes up with the idea of a talent show to save his failing theatre; Johnny (Taron Egerton), a cockney accented gorilla who wants to break out of the family business of bank robbing; the shy elephant Meena (Tori Kelly) who is only really herself when she sings; the heartbroken teen porcupine, Ash (Scarlett Johansson) who lets out her frustrations in guitar-fueled rage; the mouse Mike (Seth MacFarlane) an old-fashioned crooner and braggart.
The movie also suffers from its length – it could only have benefited from chopping 20 minutes off its 110-minute run-time – and takes its time to really get going. However, post the halfway mark, the movie does become more engaging with scenes like Rosita’s impromptu dance in a supermarket’s aisle to the Gypsy Kings’ “Bamboleo” and the climactic performances are quite enjoyable.
Cut to chase: Sing never really soars.
Kmumtaz1@hotmail.com; Twitter: @KhusroMumtaz
Rating system: *Not on your life ** Hardly worth the bother ** ½ Okay for a slow afternoon only *** Good enough for a look see *** ½ Recommended viewing **** Don’t miss it **** ½ Almost perfect ***** Perfection