Posts Tagged Comedy

The Amazing World of Gumball Recaps: “The DVD” and “The Responsible”

I’ve been wanting to do episodic recaps for The Amazing World of Gumball for a while now. I’ve tried to convince a few of of the websites I freelance for to cover this show, but it never catches on. In the past year or two, the show has been gaining massive popularity – somewhat unfortunately, in the “I can’t believe they went there” fashion, but there are those who recognize it for its boldness, brilliance, cleverness, sharply dynamic animation, and flawed, enriching characters. Since mainstream critics won’t call attention to it (while frustrating, I do get it), I decided to tackle the show myself. I’m looking forward to it, especially as the show breaks from its original basic setup into a harsh, powerful, dramatic satire of a surprisingly put-together world.


The Amazing World of Gumball Season 1 Episode… by gumball-amazing

“The DVD” – B+

The Amazing World of Gumball will take some time to get to that point. It won’t push boundaries, or raise stakes, or truly commit to the honest, raw, and genuine emotional state of its central characters until some point in the second season. By that time the animation will have changed, and with that, a clearer observation of who and what the characters and the world of  The Amazing World of Gumball can be. But we shouldn’t discount what occurs in “The DVD.” The basic, core characterizations are here: Gumball is the awkward kid who’s blindly committed to bad ideas, Darwin is the nice brother who cowtows to Gumball’s whims while simultaneously tries to talk him out of it, and Nicole, Gumball’s mother and the show’s early and continuous standout, is the stereotypical mother figure with a hilariously overbearing, militant streak. The show will complicate those attributes further overtime. But for now, “The DVD” is a basic fun lark, a taste of things to come.

One fascinating thing is that the characters feel fully realized, if not fully formed, in the early going. The opening exchange, that very first joke of escalating passive-aggressiveness between Gumball and his mother, immediately provides the early glimpses of the specifics of the characters, and even a sense of the type of show The Amazing World of Gumball will end up being. The final line, in which Gumball suggests that this entire issue with the DVD is Nicole’s fault for having kids in the first place (and before Nicole showcases her iconic, individual strength by punching through a wall), hints at a level of adult humor that the show will grow more and more comfortable in utilizing as the show goes on. I’ll need to make a point though – “getting away with adult jokes” is not at all what Gumball should be recognized for.

No, the juicier material lies within the entire scenario in which Gumball and his brother Darwin attempt to avoid “the consequences of their actions” and attempt to return a fake DVD and ensure their mom never learns about it. It’s cartoony basics here, with jokes like a fake cardboard DVD, Darwin speaking a long line in Chinese that’s translated as a simple “No,” and an amusing scene in which Gumball finds himself deeply allergic to makeup. Yet Gumball will also get a bit harsher with its satire, like the scene in which the two lower-middle class brothers beg on the street next to an an actual homeless man. It’s a dark, pointed gag, in which the homeless man not so subtly points out the insanity of the situation. It’s also pretty fucked up that the implication is that Gumball and Darwin received more change than the person who actually needed it (symbolized by a ridiculous beatboxing scene, where the two siblings once again get change over the homeless man). Karma comes quickly once the man takes the change buys a scratch-off, and wins; when Gumball then asks for his four dollars back, the formerly-homeless man feigns no longer having any change on him. It’s brutal, especially once it becomes clearer that the Wattersons aren’t quite wealthy in their own specific ways, and Gumball will get incredibly more direct on this point later in the series.

The ending sequence is also a perfect taste of what Gumball will improve upon as the show goes on as well – an epic chase scene in which Nicole runs – and I mean runs – after her children in anger from the lies. Even this early in the animation, it’s a visual masterpiece, with an action-movie sensibility to the aesthetics, and props to making it clear that Nicole’s rage, while epic, can be on occasion hindered. It ends on a couple of generic but hilarious gags and tropes – Larry watches the DVD and sees a terrible Sweded version of Alligators on a Train, Nicole hears the confession and declares her love for them is universal, and she pays the $25 fee for the DVD. But then the Gumball goes for what will mostly be its signature move, the ironic ending, the narrative switch that will keep viewers on its toes: when the late fees add up to a whopping $700, Nicole, nice, calm, and loving, tell her children to RUN. It’s perfect, a symbolic freeze-frame shot that sums up the show in a nutshell.

“The Responsible” – B

“The Responsible” introduces Richard Watterson and Anais Watterson. Both characters will go through some changes and deepening over the course of the show, particularly Richard, who will take a quite a while to make into a more workable character. Richard here is portrayed as the bumbling idiot, the comic relief who hates pants and whines like a manbaby. The Amazing World of Gumball as this point is still in its infant stages. It won’t really grasp its identity as a firm, (hyper)realistic, (dys)functional family until later. Right now, it’s mostly separate characters that are a family in name and gags only. Richard is a joke and Nicole is a machine, and Darwin and Gumball are the two who get into various scrapes. In this case, it’s how they take care of their baby sister, Anais, after Richard screws up in ordering a competent babysitter.

Anais is more solidified as a character. She will get even better, more or less contrasting her underrated genius and strategic thinking with her abject loneliness, youthful desperation, and the limits of her self-reliance. Here she has to struggle with her idiotic brothers as they go overboard with their protectiveness. She can’t watch TV (or specifically, commercials) because they’re corrupting, so she gets to witness Gumball and Darwin bash the TV set to death with bats. She can’t read a book, because she might get paper cuts, so Darwin jumpkicks it out of her hands. She can’t eat solid food (what her siblings pass as food anyway), so they chew it up and give her the chum. Rightfully, she knocks it back into their faces.

“The Responsible” is a fine, even visually great episode, with some great little details to keep your attention. It’s a great showcase, for example, when Darwin swims in the flooded house with ease, reminding you that he is indeed a fish (who enjoys his fishchips now and then). A steady shot in which Darwin and Gumball chase Anais around the living room is fantastic, mostly because it allows the space to be utilized in a lot of fun ways, sans cuts or edits. It doesn’t get a chance to get much deeper or exploratory though, mostly as an episode to enjoy the fruits of its animated labor. Its most cartoony moment is when they three pop out the chimney in a geyser and land hard on the sidewalk below, with only scratches. Yes, this is a cartoon, so this is a difficult line to walk, but while at this point The Amazing World of Gumball is more Looney Tunes, it’ll gradually pull away from that tone just enough so that stakes and threats will be harsher and more dangerous, eventually mastering it perfectly.

“The Responsible” also gets into Gumball’s narrative self-awareness, as this episode is all about the value and importance of responsibility (similar to “The DVD,” which is also why it’s a step down since it’s more or less a thematic retread). The lesson is learned, after a hellish experience, and the point is made when Gumball eventually accepts taking responsibility for the chaos… only to be unable to commit to it after staring into the flaming eyes of his mother. Gumball undercuts its lesson learning as every character ends up blaming something else for the disaster, eventually settling on the internet, which is part and parcel of the show’s ironic endings. But as the show goes along, that kind of undercutting will end up reaching some real, raw revelations that go being childish lesson learning, revelations that will be twice as significant as the basic ones. Claiming the internet is at fault is the show’s way of exploring the tendency of people to absolve themselves by pointing towards others who messed up (whataboutism), but The Amazing World of Gumball in time will provide much more bite to those kinds of endings. Which leaves this ending okay for what it is, especially this early in the show’s run, but once Gumball gets a firmer command on its voice, the perfect interplay with biting cynicism and genuine optimism, it’ll truly become one of television’s sharpest, most hilarious, most biting, and most effective programs.

 

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Some Brief Words on Penn Zero: Part-Time Hero

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The premise of Penn Zero: Part-Time Hero doesn’t make any sense. A boy and his friends, who all still attend school, head into an abandoned theater where they are warped into alternate dimensions, take the role of some kind of protagonist/leader (and their sidekicks/lackeys), and have to accomplish some grand objective. When they do this, they (apparently?) take over the bodies of characters that already exist in that world. They also have to face a set of antagonists/villains that are controlled/taken over by their art teacher and school principal. When they return home, everything is back to the way things are – as normal as things could be. There’s a lot of questions. How did a bunch of kids get into the gig of interdimensional body-control and part-time heroics? (Penn, arguably, got into it through his parents – more on this later – but his sidekicks Sashi and Boone are occupational enigmas.) What happens to the people when they take over their bodies? What about Rippen and Larry? Who is Phyllis, the lady who controls the portal machine? What signals a particular world that needs heroics? Why would a world need competing villains? How long has all this been going on? And why?

I think that most of these questions were meant to be answered – or least explored – over the course of several seasons. It only received two. And as Penn Zero ends its two season run today, we’re given all the answers we’ll ever get (bearing an unlikely comic or graphic novel followup). In a way, it’s fine. The second season of Penn Zero did little about answering those big questions, and focused on smaller, personal bits of characterization – and exaggerated cartoon satire in the midst of broad, insanely creative alternate dimensions. The show scrambled together a brief, clearly-rushed season arc in which Penn had to find some crystal shards so Phyllis can track where his parents are (also part-time heroes), an arc that gets its due only in four of the final fourteen episodes. It spent most of its other episodes either revisiting past worlds with new, more intense objectives, or finding themselves in new locales with more ridiculous, almost nonsensical ones. Penn Zero, in its remaining season, culled together final episode pitches with an assortment of ideas that seem geared for a multiple seasons. It treated its second season as if it was its fifth season.

There’s something bold about that, though. I mean, if you’re forced to end your show a bit prematurely, you might as well throw all your best ideas out there. It may be too many ideas though. Episodes feel overrun at times, like Penn’s return to a world of dragons that, in the first season, just doubled as a Top Gun parody. The team’s second appearance incorporate elements from Star Wars, Aliens, My Little Pony, and a host of other pop culture references that I recognized. There’s also a lot of wink-winking towards animation tropes, like a hilarious anime-parody episode, a sitcom-bashing one, and one that engaged in a classic cat-and-mouse chase cartoon, similar to Tom & Jerry. Some episodes are just plan weird: the cast returns to a world where everyone is some kind of sport ball, literally, and it includes Curtis Armstrong as a super bouncy ball with serious insecurity and anger issues for some reason. An episode that checks in on Penn’s parents includes a fire-breathing giant chicken, a sketchy city inside the belly of said chicken, a sleazy pickpocket with an eyeball for a belly and lips for a head (voiced my Marc Maron), and mafioso, flamethrower-wielding grandmother with zombie cat demons for henchmen. This… is a weird show.

Speaking of which, the situation with Penn’s parents form the backbone of the show’s arc. They’re trapped in that bizarre world mentioned in the previous paragraph, and Penn has to recover three shards of… something to bring them back. It’s not exactly a tightly-scripted story arc – the retrieval of the first shard is accomplished during a weird random end tag, involving a giant Phyllis, which raises even more questions (and I know I’m skipping a lot of explanation here, but the episode has Penn deciding whether to go after the shard or save the day, and it doesn’t explain why Penn doesn’t just go after the shard after saving the day, or coming back to this world just a bit later). It does however delineate high-level stakes to these final episodes. There is pretty strong theme of loyalty, heroics, and sacrifice, especially between the roles of parental and childish figures, but fourteen episodes are not nearly enough to delve into them. Still, Penn Zero went ahead and did it anyway, which requires some balls.

You can’t help but wonder if Penn Zero: Part-Time Hero was meant to be the popular followup to Phineas and Ferb, another show that involved a weird-looking red-haired kid and random forays into strange places (that now looks to be Milo Murphy’s Law, a show that needs to explored at another time). Disney XD was going through some issues, and a lot of two season shows got shut down (including the delightful Wander Over Yonder and the not-so-delightful 7D). I don’t know if Penn Zero needed, or deserved, more time to flesh itself out. It was funny and clever enough, the characters were perfectly, comically realized (Sashi (Tani Guadi) was the overall show standout but second-season Penn (Thomas Middleditch) came up strong), and it clearly had a blast coming up with some of the alternate dimensions and the plots that took place in them. It felt like it got so caught up in that creative freeform that it never took the time it needed to really let its characters, and its specific in-world logic, explain itself.

That’s not necessarily bad. Lots of shows don’t make sense and thrive on that concept: Archer is purposely anachronistic, and Phineas and Ferb enjoyed its creative freedom. The latter show also knew to keep its central concept basic – a couple of kids just trying to find something to do during summer vacation – so when things did get crazy, it could count on cartoon logic to carry it through. Penn Zero often relies on cartoon logic as well – with plenty of self-aware, forth-wall gags, like when a Penn-as-kaiju destroys a “Rule of Thirds” Store on his third accidental stomp – but it’s too ingrained into its emotionally-charged backstory to escape from it. What happens if a hero fails – or worse, dies? That threat looms over the show, if never taken seriously whatsoever. Still, it’s possible, and I almost feel like the show would have been better off ditching any semblance of a season arc all together.

Still, Penn Zero: Part-Time Hero is just weird enough, funny enough, and creative enough to check out its final run, and its assortment of solid guest starts is also wildly impressive, which includes Mar Maron, Mark Hamill, Maria Bamford, Kumail Nanjiani, and Yvette Nicole Brown. Mercury Filmworks and Disney Television Animation pushes the paper-like-cutout designs in some striking ways within the animation, both large and small: large-scale, sweeping movements are as grandiose as some small, detailed facial expressions are hilarious. Penn Zero is a fun lark, and it’s somewhat sad to see it go “before its time,” but in some ways, it’s for the best. There’s too much going on that shouldn’t really be going on, and it’s better to end it before it reaches fan-theory status.

FINAL THOUGHTS ABOUT THE FINALE: If anything, “At the End of the Worlds” confirms the idea that Penn Zero: Part-Time Hero is probably better off ending now instead of continuing, even despite the fact it thrived with potential. It committed to a weirdness that felt more egregious than necessary or clever, and I’m not exactly talking about the revelation that Phil and Phyllis were separate entities of some kind of intergalactic time-space being gloriously entering Phase Two of some cosmic mission (I swear this is all true). You could argue, in a way, that the episode was parodying a lot of tropes of various grand finales: Boone sacrificing an “upgrade” for the sake of the team; a final fight with evil clones, with Sashi exploiting a weakness that she developed for years; an epic battle among the heroes and villains of the various worlds that Penn and Rippen visited in the past. It had an almost-at-peace death scene when Penn nearly falls to his death and reminisces about his parents. It had an almost-ironic parents-return-only-to-have-to-go-back-for-some-lame-reason (the show even lampshades its stupidity) moment. It had a “Rippen becomes good” sacrifice, only to be undercut by a bunch of random characters joining him. And then there’s the Phil/Phyllis thing, which played to the idea of needing a good/evil balance in the multiverse – although the show never really thematically supported that idea. It is… a lot, and I’ll always respect the hell out of the show just fucking doing all that, but I can’t exactly say we missed out on something grander. It is what it is, and kids will have their first(?) taste of something cerebral and mind-blowingly out-there. Beyond that? Nothing more revealing than a forced Penn/Sashi romantic pairing. So much for fan-theories.

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Warner Brothers’ Storks Film Carries More Weight Than Just Babies

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Storks received some minor attention when a Twitter account pointed out a montage from the film showcasing various couples – and singles – receiving babies from the flying avians. The recipients were of various races, ages, sizes, and sexuality. It was a slight scene, and it was really only for those who would take notice, but it still was worthy of attention. Storks seems like it’s part of the not-so-great trend of films playing minor favors towards progressive ideals – a sentiment that feels more like a “spot the trend” game than any real sense of modern acceptance of diversity. Storks, a movie as a whole though, is genuinely more interested in those progressive ideals than a tossed-off montage. Storks is generally dismissed as a non-essential children’s film. But it’s a funny, clever, self-aware bit of animated goofiness with its heart firmly held in its silent, but meaningful, progressivism.

Storks, at the onset, feels like its a film about nothing, really. It’s the off-beat, quirky story of a stork at a company, which no longer delivers babies, teaming up with a orphan human girl, to do just that. The movie runs through an assortment of wacky set-pieces and silly characters via a plot that on its surface is rather simplistic and superficial. Its reliance on heavy cartoony antics and self-aware gags can be a turn-off to a lot of people who prefer their animated films to be more grounded and sophisticated (an approach I find limiting in a lot of ways but that’s a topic for another day). Yet underlining all of that silliness, Storks exhibits a real sense of confidence in its characters and in its setting – a confidence that is exploratory and distinctive, noticeable with a closer look.

I hate saying this, and I hate how this will sound, but I need to say this only in order to clarify it: Storks is arguably the most “millennial” movie I’ve seen in a while. It’s a film in which its absurdity and irony attempts to, but doesn’t quite, mask its dramatic exploration of the confusion of life and complications that younger “20-somethings” face. It’s a film that comically but quietly explores their contemporary search for purpose and identity – in a wildly basic way, but in a way that feels necessary. Storks wears its heart on its sleeve. It is quietly, narrowly honest, but that honesty is cluttered in self-awareness, funny voices, and physical comedy – the kind of way in which millennials tend to approach their futures.

It’s tricky, almost dangerous, to explain myself without stereotyping, but hey, I certainly wouldn’t be the first critic to speculate on “what millennials are” these days. In my experience, I find that this particular upcoming generation is more honest and forward than the previous one, but often diffuses that honesty through irony, asides, and forced comedy. (You know, memes.)  Storks isn’t a “meme” movie, in that it didn’t inspire an array of JPEGS and GIFs tossed about on social media, but its core sentiment is easily lost in its nonsense. One could suggest that the film’s failing is exactly that – its sentiment is belittled by its chaotic cartooniness. But I feel like that’s a shallow reading of cartoon antics in general, an implicit denial of letting cartoons be cartoons. That is to say, all of those antics don’t deny the film’s sentiment, even if the characters aren’t the utterly raw, broken characters, like the ones in Bojack Horseman or Rick and Morty. The cast of Storks are lost in deeply confused, deeply aimless ways, composed of characters who are coded in youthful exuberance and confidence but not necessarily a purpose: Junior the stork (note the name) is up for promotion without any idea as to what to do when he gets it, while Tulip the human is a literal 18 year-old orphan who has no idea who she is or where she belongs.

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Storks is somewhat atypical of most animated movies in that it places much of its stock on those two characters for a good portion of its runtime. All the physical gags and loose plotting is secondary to the film’s confidence in the interplay between Tulip and Junior, and essentially the voice artists Katie Crown and Andy Samberg. And it is a delightful pairing. Crown and Samberg work off each other so well that it almost feels like certain scenes were added and/or extended just to pad their interaction. Their comic conflicts and camaraderie move fast and sharply, due to the power of two actors on top of their game. Yet even through those comic interactions, Samberg and Crown don’t deny or ignore the complication of their characters in this weird, specific moment in their lives; they instead manage to exude their current turmoil through their hilarious performances. It’s not nuanced, but millennials aren’t particularly nuanced (and I mean this positively). Just because someone posts a meme that dumbly describes their current feelings doesn’t negate the fact that they’re indeed feeling that feeling.

It’s immediately present early in the film, when Tulip gleefully asks Junior to stop calling her “orphan Tulip”; she comically, but bluntly, describe how the term “hurts her heart.” Later in the film, Tulip teases Junior over his ideas on what he would do once he’s promoted. After a bit of inane, silly prodding and subsequent deflections, Junior reacts in anger: “BACK OFF” he screams. It’s a hilarious but personal response to his dilemma – what does he truly believe in? What is his personal drive upon “earning” his position, and what will he do when he achieves it? Junior is terrified of self-reflection; throughout the film, he blindly recites the corporate slogan, he sings the commercial jingle to a baby, and he grows excited over Storkcon, a convention in which its cleverest innovation is a spherical box.

I don’t think millennials aren’t especially hostile to capitalism, so much that they’re more readily and willing to question and criticize it. “Climbing the ladder” is still the goal of many young people, but as it becomes clear that such an achievement is more complex and fraught these days (financially, socially, and mentally), millennials at the very least need a real sense of purpose within the system that goes beyond “it’s just what you do.” Junior’s mind literally explodes when he gets that promotion early in the movie, yet the story showcases his reluctance to articulate what, exactly, he would want to do once he achieves this. Tulip’s assured ideas push back against Junior’s smarmy question over what she would do in his position, but it also reinforces how specifically lost Junior is in this particular point in his life.

Speaking of Tulip: I just have to say that the Storks’ co-lead is a fantastic character. She pulsates with such life and personality, a funny and quirky being who also shades a lot of complexity in her actions and her vocal performances – and in her animation. Tulip is a brilliant young girl who never is given her due: she invented (and fixed) a flying machine that doubled as a boat after a plane crash, and her rocket packs actually work before one of her test subjects take things too far. (You then want to question whether “Tulip’s help” really was the cause of the company’s low profit margins.) Let’s be blunt: there’s a clear, prescient feminist message here. A smart, capable woman whose ideas are dismissed, who can’t even be seen as a real person without the “orphan” qualifier? Really, there’s enough here that could fit an essay on its own. (This also ties into capitalism’s problematic approach within a social context, but again, that’s worthy of its own, separate critique.)

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What we get here, through the overall tale told in Storks, is two young persons of different lives (and species, which winks towards its own idea of a diverse co-lead setup) who struggle with modern ideas of personhood and livelihood, all while engaging with the ultimate symbol of the classic “success” traditional ideal: the baby. And here is where things get interesting. Junior and Tulip fit within a particular archetype. A young couple, both of different worlds, who find themselves suddenly in the care of a child, neither of them ready to care of it, let alone care for themselves. They’re literally figuring it out all their own. In this way, Storks attempts to bridge traditional ideas of social success while questioning it all the same.

And, to be very clear, Storks isn’t a movie that’s going to delve heavily in such an idea. It’s silly, audaciously funny, with the kind of animated physicality that rivals Tex Avery for delightfully dumb cartoon exaggeration. The last CGI film to do something of this caliber is probably Madagascar 3 (one of mistakes of the Penguins of Madagascar movie was arguably to pull back from that gleeful embrace of cartoon exaggeration). Storks delights in its visual nonsense: its bird characters with hilariously perfect teeth; it’s fun, revealing montage of Tulip’s cast of imaginary workplace characters; it’s most sharpest creation in the form of a male wolf couple (wink) who fall in love with the baby and commands its pack into sheer physical recreations of bridges, mini vans, and submarines.

But those exaggerations do not (and should not) distract from its richer, well-considered points; they reflect millennial confusion and fears over how to approach a society that continually questions the nature of livelihood and family. Storks feels like a movie in which its creators almost lucked into devising a smartly considered world and a thematic heft that balances the film more than its previews indicated (and which hinders its third act a lot, which I’ll get to in a bit). In Tulip’s brief idea, suggesting the company they work for invest in a more diverse set of  birds and animals, Storks sparkles with potential of a world in which its animals have as much life as its humans. It’s present in the wolves and the throwaway scene in which Toady interviews a bunch of animals. Storks enjoys the world it created and meta-commentary that flows from it.

This, in some ways, is also reflected in the scenes involving Nate Gardner and his family. Here, tradition again is questioned, if perhaps not as rigorously as it is with Tulip and Junior. It’s as cliche as it comes when we see two overworked parents consistently neglect their own kid, but at the very least, Nate thrives with a clear self-awareness of the situation, as in with the scene where he guilts his father to help him built the baby-catching contraptions on his house. Storks smartly doesn’t dismiss out of hand traditional ideas of success and family; it simply requests that its characters understand why it wants to achieve those goals, and be assured in that achievement. Note that Tulip and Junior do NOT fall dotingly in love with the baby and automatically become a family. The wolves’ are seen as in the wrong for this behavior, and so is Jasper, who realizes his ultimate mistake (falling in love with a baby just because its “cute”) and resolves to return to just finishing his job.

This is Junior’s ultimate lesson, which he recites (ironically, when he recontextualizes Cornerstore’s slogan into a personal mandate) when he finds himself in a factory filled with babies and an assortment of unemployed storks around him. This is also Storks’ weakest moment; its third act is lost in its perfunctory need to create an over-the-top climactic moment (if you watch carefully, Tulip and Junior don’t do anything but watch the chaos unfold in the entire sequence). A friend of mine commented on the need to kill off (and, for all intents and purposes, he is killed off) Hunter when he just wanted to protect his company, and he has a point. Turning Hunter, an antagonist who just had a strict corporate/capitalist mandate, into an out-and-out villain was a mistake, but you definitely get the sense that even the filmmakers felt ambivalent about it. (This more or less is notable in their approach to Toady, whose antagonism and motivations are hilariously, and purposely, unclear; Tulip and Junior barely grasp his role in the chaos that unfolded in the end).

Storks is infinitely more interested in the kind of silly, cartoonish world it created and the lost, confused characters who inhabit it, who open up to their insecurities through funny voices and dumb expressions, but whose insecurities are still present and significant. In its final moments, Storks showcases the myriad of families, and family types, who embrace their babies (many of whom could indeed never get babies the traditional way, something a “woke” sequel could really delve into?). It provides Tulip her rightful family, but more importantly, it gives her a sense of identity (family) and purpose (delivery of the baby). It also provides Junior a sense of purpose (embracing baby delivery at Cornerstore.com) as well as identity (Junior was never as lost in knowing who he was as Tulip was, but establishing a personal connection with her, and her family, does seem to provide him a level of peace he never knew he lacked). As heartwarming it was to see Tulip and Junior embraced by Tulip’s family, it was also right, perhaps even more so, to see the two of them nod at each other confidently in the workplace, confident in their new role.

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