Norm of the North


★★

Directed by Trevor Wall

Starring Rob Schneider, Heather Graham, Bill Nighy, James Corden, and Ken Jeong

Film review by Chris Olson


The genre of animated movies has several ice-capers which have hit and missed in equal measure. Frozen (2013), Happy Feet (2006), Ice Age (2002), have found popular appeal, whilst sequels for the latter two have landed on thin ice. Norm of the North, regrettably, is a blizzard of environmental issues, pop culture references and slapstick comedy whilst failing to toe the line between childish silliness and adult appeal.

Norm (Rob Schneider) is a polar bear in the arctic, who for some reason can talk “human”. An inexplicable trait which comes in super handy when a bunch of greedy humans turn up on his doorstep wanting to build luxury condos and spoiling the picturesque ecology. However, communication remains elusive so Norm finds himself journeying to New York where he hopes to sabotage the construction project from the inside by becoming part of the marketing.

Heavy on the social commentary light on the plot, this is a by-the-numbers animated film that crowbars in fluffy references without any concern for delivering a quality script. Dance montages and camp villains are just some of the delights in store for viewers who will most likely be kids and their poor, suffering parents. That being said, there were a few times the movie managed to roar.

James Corden turns up for a delightful cameo as an actor dressed as a polar bear, whose hand-to-hand combat skills and thespian ravings are genuinely funny. Also the onset of the Lemmings characters provide a Minions-esque comedy relief, easily providing the funniest moments in the film. Although even they feel like marketable material, like all the other "cuddley toy" characters. The action set pieces throw them into endless, cartoonish scenarios without any regard for complimenting the story any further than "oh that was cute".


Animation cannot excuse itself from the strenuous criticism that other genres face, not after so many huge achievements have been made in the genre. The pioneers have raised the bar so high now that calamitous capers like this just simply won't do. The script is totally lacking and the fundamental characterisation, so prevalent in the success stories of Pixar, Ghibli and Dreamworks, is a stinking, wet fish.

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