I couldn't bear it
Norm of the North is directed by Trevor Wall and features voice work from Rob Schneider, Heather Graham, and Ken Jeong.
You don't need to watch Norm of the North for longer than two minutes to realize what a vile animated atrocity that it truly is. It is a kids film that holds the dubious distinction of being offensive to both kids and parents, settling for the laziest, lowest common denominator when it comes to family-friendly humor. I should be ashamed to admit that I sat through this abomination not once, but twice, because I did not trust myself enough to do a proper review around six-seven months after my first viewing. The first time around, I was aghast at the film's many sorry attempts at evoking the smallest chuckle out of you. The second time, now fully aware of most of the "jokes", I sat there contemplating my decision to give the film a second watch, knowing that I was doing nothing but throwing a good hour and a half of my life away. And now that I have spent three hours of my life time thus far watching the antics and twerking of good ol' Mr. Norm of the North, I pray to God that I will not ever have to spend one minute on an unthinkable third viewing.
The first place to inspect when trying to understand Norm of the North is its production history. Production of Norm of the North took a whopping 6 years with several delays and rewrites, and the film was originally intended for a straight-to-DVD release. Had that been the case, this film would've faded from our memory banks in no time. But instead, the studio execs decided at the last minute that, "You know what? We have decided that we are confident enough to give Norm of the North a wide theatrical release" and so, Norm of the North was released in over 2000 theaters across the U.S. So you have an indecent kids film that was supposed to be straight-to-DVD now trying to make it big in theaters, and it tried to do so in the unforgiving snowstorm that is the month of January. How could you possibly expect anything worthwhile from this film?
If the horrid animation wasn't enough to drive you away, the film's confusing and nonsensical story definitely will. Rob Schneider voices Norm, an Arctic polar bear who isn't like any normal polar bear because he can't hunt. However, Norm has been blessed with the ability to speak with humans, even though all of the polar bears in the Arctic can speak normal English. One day, Norm discovers a massive condo in the Arctic, where a film crew is trying to film a commercial for further development of Arctic condos. The commercial is promoting Mr. Greene (Ken Jeong), a land developer who suffers from some sort of restless body syndrome, because he flails his arms and bounces around whenever he speaks. Mr. Greene wants one of his representatives, Vera (Heather Graham), to find an actor to play a polar bear for his Arctic campaign. Knowing that his home is threatened, Norm stows away on a ship to New York City. From there, Norm pretends to be an actor playing a polar bear, and he eventually becomes the "actor" for Mr. Greene's campaign. As Norm puts it, he is going to, "Use the Arctic to save the Arctic."
Luxury condos in the Arctic? I mean.....what? What exactly is the incentive for someone to move to the Arctic anyway? I think the appeal of watching the Northern lights and stars is vastly offset by the risk of dealing with killer polar bears in your backyard. Add on the fact that there is really nothing to do in the Arctic besides admire the scenery, and, well, let's just say that moving to the frozen Arctic is probably one of the last things that anyone would want to do. So not only does that part of the story make no sense, but so does pretty much everything else involving Norm in the Big Apple. The plot is heavily dependent on the human characters acting as stupid as possible, mostly in how almost no one in New York has an issue with a fully grown polar bear wandering around the streets. No, they all think that Norm is an actor who is incredibly invested in his commitment to being a polar bear. But if that wasn't bad enough, the movie decides to turn Norm into a celebrity because he can.....twerk......very well.
- High points? What high points? Norm of the North comes at you with an onslaught of lazy jokes, particularly in its reliance on trying to make you laugh with farting and pissing. There is a solid 15 or so seconds in which we watch Norm's lemming buddies pee into a fish tank. Oh yes, those God damn lemmings that I haven't brought up yet. Norm brings along three lemmings who are pals with him for some God-knows-what reason, and they oh-so desperately attempt to be Minions. They don't succeed at this, of course, because even the Minions are above peeing in a fish tank and dishing out farts whenever the opportunity presents itself. There's no wit or subtlety in anything that the film tries to conceive as humor. It is a joyless monstrosity that offers no form of pleasure to anyone who bothers to watch it. At least it doesn't do the Batman & Robin thing and rely on ice/snow/cold puns.
- The animation is nothing short of dreadful, looking more suitable for an early 90's Saturday morning show on Nickelodeon or Cartoon Network. Characters and backgrounds look as if they were constructed with the most basic building blocks that are provided free of charge with any animation software. The most detailed that the animation ever gets is Norm having his fur ruffled by the wind when a helicopter flies by him. The animation gives me a grim reminder of Foodfight!, although compared to Foodfight!, Norm of the North's animation is almost Pixar quality. Most of the characters are robotic in their basic movements, as if they needed to be programmed beforehand. Nothing about the animation is organic or smooth and very much so matches something you'd expect from straight-to-DVD.
- I suppose I still need to address the one thing that really makes Norm of the North as cringe worthy as it is. That of course is the twerking dance routine that Norm frequently displays. He calls it The Arctic Shake, clearly inspired by Miley Cyrus. And in case you might be wondering, Norm does actually say the word twerking early on in the film. I'm aware that twerking has been in existence way before Miley Cyrus' twerking scarred her public image back in 2013, but to think that the screenwriters found it acceptable to include something sexually suggestive like twerking in a kids film, it scares me to think what other sort of dangerous risks that people want to take with kids films nowadays.
Another thing you will definitely notice is the film's extensive use of cross dissolves to transition between scenes. I lost count as to how many cross dissolves I saw. But that's just one tiny annoyance in a film whose most glaring missteps are its horrible animation and its brainless humor. The plot doesn't make any sense, and nearly every character is a complete idiot. Unless you are a cinema-masochist like I am, stay as far away as you can from Norm of the North. It is not worth 90 precious minutes of your life.
Recommend? Oh, hell no
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