MOVIE REVIEW: Norm of the North (2016)

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“Norm of the North” Review
Directed by Trevor Wall
Written by Daniel Altiere, Steven Altiere, Malcolm T. Goldman, and Jamie Lissow

Pixar is a company that produces animated flicks that not only entertain the whole family regardless of age or gender, but also excels in exemplary writing and opens you up to a level of emotion you never knew existed. Their films have gravitas. This one does not. This one sucks, and even that’s an understatement.

Norm of the North is Splash Entertainment’s first attempt at a full-length animated film, and they should’ve done a better job at it, really. The film is all about Norm (Rob Schneider), a polar bear who dances (and twerks) and can apparently talk to humans (using American accented English) and his attempt at saving the Arctic by “Selling the Arctic to save the Arctic.” Encouraging him to undertake this mission is the North Pole’s wise man, seagull Socrates (Bill Nighy). All this started upon the arrival of red-head single mum Vera (Heather Graham), who is surveying the North Pole as a possible location for Mr. Greene’s (Ken Jeong) condominium project (and magically gets reception for video calls on the friggin’ North Pole). As it turns out, Mr.Greene is a very indiscriminate businessman, and Vera’s resolve is often times shaken by her daughter Olympia (Maya Kay), a smart little girl who views the environment, on this film specifically the Arctic, as worth preserving.

Norm decides to be Greene Houses’ model and spokesperson (everyone believes he’s an actor wearing a very realistic costume), and with Olympia’s suggestion, works on increasing Greene Houses’ public approval rating up to 85% (because the “Polar Council” will approve the real-estate project if Mr.Greene’s company reaches this rating), and as soon as it reaches that point, he’ll double-cross Greene and promote the preservation of the North Pole instead.

This film is wrong on so many levels. Instead of relaying a better, environmentally preserving message (a la Leo DiCaprio), it tries to do so with a plot so lame it needs a wheelchair. The writers could’ve used global warming, illegal whaling, over fishing, etc., as source material and inspiration, but they instead decided that an abusive tyrant of a businessman who decides to builds condos on the North Pole would be a better idea. Who in their right mind would want to develop property on a giant floating ice cube? Even ensuring the structure has a deep foundation is counter-productive since it’ll be sitting in something that MELTS.

Also, what’s so bothering is the oh-so-obvious references to previous (READ: SUCCESSFUL) animated films of yesteryear and beyond. A polar bear king? Animals shown to eat each other, but seem to get along rather well in the presence of the king? Bowing? A wise man/adviser to the king bird with an English accent (does Zazu, voiced by the talented Rowan Atkinson, come to mind?)? Dancing animals? IN NEW YORK?!

If you and your family don’t discriminate with the intellectual content of the animated movies you watch, and just watch it for sheer entertainment, then you might as well give this film a go. It’s a mishmash of Ice Age, Madagascar and The Lion King, even. They tried to put the all the best into it, and failed horribly. But you probably won’t mind anyway.

But if you and you’re family have even half a brain, you’ll know that this film can kill brain cells faster than booze. Spend your hard-earned money somewhere else.

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