There’s nothing particularly original about this animated comedy adventure by Nicholas Stoller (Neighbors). It has the standard fast-paced snarky tone and too-frantic imagery, but the script is smarter than average, dropping deranged lines of hilarious dialogue into every scene. This gives the conversations an improvisational quality that keeps the audience laughing all the way through, unsure what might happen next.
It’s set 20 years after the storks decided that there wasn’t enough money in delivering babies, so they shifted to delivering parcels instead. The boss Hunter (voiced by Kelsey Grammer) is now planning to become board chairman, so he brings in his protege Junior (Andy Samberg) as the new boss. To prove himself, Junior needs to sack Tulip (Katie Crown), an annoying human who was left behind when the old business closed. Unable to do this, Junior transfers her to a back mailroom where no one will notice her, except that she inadvertently fires up the baby factory by answering a request from Nate (Anton Starkman) to bring a brother to his parents (Jennifer Aniston and Ty Burrell). So now Junior and Tulip need to deliver this infant before Hunter finds out.
While the plot is fairly predictable, the way it plays out is riotous. The film is a barrage of random asides, unexpected twists and loveably ridiculous characters. A smarmy corporate spy called Pigeon Toady (Stephen Kramer Glickman) is amusingly smarmy, while a pair of bickering arctic wolves (Keegan-Michael Key and Jordan Peele) add some snarling suspense, even though they’re too funny to be scary. Everything is so energetic and colourful that it’s difficult to mind that the plot makes very little logical sense. And the loose style of vocal performance gives the whole film a zing of comical anarchy.
Indeed, the animators have outdone themselves in filling the screen with everything they can think of. The action sequences are frenzied but sometimes exhilarating, making the most of the nutty settings while using every colour and texture imaginable. The stroke of genius is having an adorable baby at the centre of the chaos who stops everyone in their tracks so they can coo and gush a bit. And there are also some deeper touches that grab the audience emotionally, from Nate’s yearning for a sibling to Junior’s desire to to the best in his job. And Tulip’s journey is surprisingly engaging too, with a moving payoff. The movie may be relentlessly silly, but it definitely delivers an entertaining ride.