A few years back, my mom called with an important announcement: She had discovered a song featured on Disney’s Mickey Mouse Clubhouse that she was sure everyone—starting with me—needed to hear every morning before heading out of the house.
Keys? Check. Phone? Got it. “Hot-diggety dog” song by Mickey and friends? Wouldn’t leave home without it.
As you can probably guess, mom’s suggestion hasn’t quite taken hold, except as a running family joke. I can’t say I haven’t heard (or danced to) the song since—not with my kids the age they are anyway—but I have certainly been faithful to lay on an extra smirk in mom’s honor when the occasion arises.
That said, I’m here to tell you with the same urgency and conviction my momma told me: you have got to watch Storks, a 2016 animated flick with a well-known cast, mixed reviews and very little to show for itself in terms of Hollywood recognition.
Why must you watch Storks? Because it’s a perfect celebration of life. It’s a positive, truthful and even beautiful revelry in the joy that every new life brings. Plus, my kids think it’s hilarious—although the 1-year-old hasn’t quite weighed in on her thoughts.
Feel free to mock as you read along—turnabout is fair play, after all—but just know that if you’re still reading at this point, the joke’s already on you. So, why not consider a plea to find a kid near you, plop down next him or her and watch this film?
1. Kids are Amazing, Remember?
The movie’s premise is that storks, after having delivered babies to doorsteps for generation upon generation, have now given up the enterprise altogether, choosing instead to deliver online purchases a la Amazon.com.
Delivering packages instead of babies has proven to be a much more efficient business model, with far fewer complications and virtually no risk. But, typified by the storks’ corporate president, voiced by Kelsey Grammer—himself an outspoken pro-life proponent—the storks’ all-encompassing quest for efficiency and comfort has robbed them of their very soul, cutting them off from the joyful pursuit for which they were designed.
Meanwhile, a married couple in the ‘burbs is living out the same partially numbed nightmare, constantly striving after success as real estate agents while ignoring their son in the process.
Both the storks and the real estate agents have lost their way, sacrificing the chance to enjoy God’s gift of children on the altar of success and efficiency. It’s a life, sure, but what’s it all about? Why is any of it important?
Nowhere does this theme come through more clearly than a scene toward the end of the movie. When Grammer’s head-honcho stork dangles a big, previously irresistible promotion to another stork—played by former SNL cast member Andy Samberg—he’s shocked to find Samberg’s stork hardly flinching at the opportunity.
What happened? Well, Samberg’s stork, who’d previously had his mind blown—literally, it’s a kids’ movie, remember—by the same offer earlier in the movie, had discovered a truer, deeper joy than career success at any cost.
And that joy, of course, was a little baby.
2. “Baby Cuteness”: A Danger to Avoid at All Costs.
When storks shifted from babies to parcels, they abandoned a baby-making factory that had previously pumped out the world’s supply of newborns. Through a series of unfortunate events, however, the factory reactivates and lo and behold, out comes a baby.
Encased in a space-aged capsule, the baby is the first to be produced in nearly two decades. When Samberg’s sidekick—the last baby who came out of the factory 18 years prior—goes to open a door to the capsule and sneak a peak at the newborn, he shrieks at her to keep the door shut and the baby concealed.
“No, no, no! Just a brief exposure to baby cuteness can ruin your life,” Samberg’s stork warns his human partner in crime—voiced by Katie Crown—obviously parroting (pun intended, sorry) a company line he’s grown to recite at a moment’s notice.
The inherent danger of seeing a baby becomes a playful subplot throughout the rest of the movie, as a brief gander (sorry, can’t help myself and I promise to stop soon) at a baby yields an immediate change of heart in storks, penguins and even a pack of wolves who go to extreme lengths to try and make the baby their own.
Tweet This: 5 ways @StorksTheMovie is the perfect celebration of life. @KelseyGrammer #prolife
Tragically, this aversion to seeing a baby has real-world roots in some quarters, where abortion advocates deny the reality—and yes, cuteness—of preborn babies by trying to stop a woman from accessing so much as an ultrasound image of her child.
Others, trying desperately to promote the clearly false view that a baby only achieves personhood and worth at birth, have even called into question the validity of ultrasounds themselves.
Meanwhile, close to 70 percent of the 2,500 pregnancy centers in the U.S. give women the chance to meet their babies via ultrasound at no cost whatsoever, leaving the mother herself in charge of her own pregnancy decision. At those appointments, women are choosing life in droves as their babies wave at them, dance for them and in the case of twins, kiss each other in utero.
That “baby cuteness” isn’t just a danger for storks in search of expediency, it’s a hazard for the abortion industry in search of an ever-dwindling clientele. To date, Big Abortion’s best solution has been to fight tooth-and-nail against a woman’s access to ultrasound.
3. Storks Nails it on Maternal Instinct.
As staff, registered nurses and sonographers, doctors and tens of thousands of volunteers at pregnancy centers can tell you, the power of “baby cuteness” often transforms a woman in an unexpected pregnancy into a mother.
The reason why is simple: it all has to do with awakening a maternal instinct inherent in every woman.
That’s what makes a scene where Samberg’s sidekick responds to a crying baby so funny—it’s all about the maternal instinct. Even as Samberg’s stork euphemistically refers to the baby as “the package,” his sidekick can’t help herself from coming to the aid of a crying child.
What follows is a brief montage of mothers throughout the ages calmly and courageously defending their precious children from flying arrows and hungry saber-toothed tigers. Even while a mom in the montage fends off lethal threats, she keeps her eyes affectionately fixed onto the child she’s defending.
Where else can you find such fierce tenderness than a mother with her child? Not just willing to fight, but to embrace.
4. New Baby Stress? Been There, Terrified of That.
In her review, The Atlantic’s Megan Garber wrote that Storks “is a kids’ movie that is really, in the end, about parenthood.” Nowhere does this shine through more clearly than in Storks’ depiction of life with a newborn.
As Samberg’s stork and his sidekick work together to try and deliver the baby they accidentally created, they go through an emotional ringer any parent can relate to as they learn to feed, comfort and care for a newborn on the fly.
When Grammer’s sinister boss-stork captures the baby girl and sells her to a group of hard-nosed penguins, the good storks show up to rescue her—just as the penguins’ pull off a panicked attempt to get her to sleep.
A hushed fight scene ensues, climaxing when Samberg and Crown throw a box of bells into the air, sending the penguins scrambling in all directions to keep the bells from hitting the ground and waking up the baby.
It’s pretty much the perfect picture of what life with a newborn can feel like: panic mixed with exhaustion mixed with cluelessness and garnished with a sprig of futility. I don’t remember any penguins or bells flying through the air, but I do remember how shocked I was to hear our oldest daughter pierce the night the moment I fell asleep on night No. 1.
It’s real, and it’s terrifying. And Storks depicts it perfectly.
5. Key and Peele are in Storks, and They Do Not Disappoint.
I mean, these guys are hilarious. Playing a pair of wolves vying for alpha male status, Keegan-Michael Key and Jordan Peele lead an absurdly resourceful wolf pack that stumbles upon the baby that ends up changing everyone’s world.
When they first discover the baby, the wolves are fighting about who gets to eat her, but neither can bring himself to do anything other than lick her in the face. They’re suddenly in love with the child, and will do anything—including converting their pack into a bridge, a boat, an airplane, and even a minivan—to keep her as their own.
No kidding, this is one impressive wolf pack:
Is that enough to convince you?
If it is, I guarantee you’ll need to go put out far less effort than the aforementioned wolves to rent a copy on your way home tonight.