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Norm of the North

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Norm of the North
Norm of the north.jpg
"I'm Norm of the North, king of nothing." — Norm
Genre: Comedy

Animation

Directed By: Trevor Wall
Written By: Daniel R. Altiere
Steven M. Altiere
Malcolm T. Goldman
Starring: Rob Schneider
Heather Graham
Ken Jeong
Colm Meaney
Loretta Devine
Gabriel Iglesias
Michael McElhatton
Bill Nighy
Photography: Color
Distributed By: Lionsgate
Release Date: January 15, 2016 (United States)
March 18, 2016 (Ireland)
Runtime: 88 minutes
Country: United States
India
Ireland
Sequel: Norm of the North: Keys to the Kingdom


"You want some perspective to how bad this movie is? Rob Schneider is the star of this film. Rob Schneider is the star of this film! Rob Schneider is the star of this fucking film!"
BlackCriticGuy


Norm of the North is a 2016 computer-animated adventure-comedy film directed by Trevor Wall and written by Daniel R. Altiere, Steven M. Altiere, and Malcolm T. Goldman. It features the voices of Rob Schneider, Heather Graham, Ken Jeong, Colm Meaney, Loretta Devine, Gabriel Iglesias, Michael McElhatton, and Bill Nighy, and is an international co-production of the United States, India, and Ireland. The UK version of the film features the voice of James Corden instead of Michael McElhatton. It was produced by Assemblage Entertainment, Splash Entertainment, and Telegael, and distributed by Lionsgate.

Norm of the North was theatrically released on January 15, 2016, and grossed $30.5 million on an $18 million budget. The film received negative reviews and temporarily held a rating of 0% on the review aggregation website Rotten Tomatoes.[1] There are three direct-to-DVD sequels: Norm of the North: Keys to the Kingdom, released February 12, 2019; Norm of the North: King Sized Adventure, released June 11, 2019; and Norm of the North: Family Vacation, released February 25, 2020.[2]

Plot

Norm the polar bear doesn't know how to hunt, but he does possess the unique ability to talk to humans. When the wealthy Mr. Greene unveils his idea to build luxury condos in the Arctic, Norm realizes that his beloved home is in jeopardy. Accompanied by three mischievous lemmings, Norm stows away on a ship to New York. Once there, he meets a surprising ally who helps him hatch a scheme to sabotage the shady developer's plans.

Why It's King of Nothing

  1. The film suffers from several clichés and unoriginal ideas, for example:
    • Norm, the main and title protagonist of the film is an outcast at the start and later becomes accepted by his society at the end, an outcast for being different from everyone else, and does something idiotic that would easily impress his love interest.
    • Mr. Greene is a carbon copy of Chester V from Cloudy with a Chance of Meatballs 2, as both antagonists are the heads of their respective corporations and move their limbs in a rather over-the-top way.
    • The Lemmings are just a poor man's version of the Minions from Despicable Me, as both are groups of small creatures serving as comic reliefs who accompany our main character much of the time. They are obnoxious, annoying, and have ear-piercing voices; they also constantly provide toilet humor, including the infamous scene where they urinate in a fish tank for 30 seconds.
    • The government official is corrupt (though it's mostly accurate nowadays).
    • The child of a character is upset that they would be unable to spend time together due to the latter being busy with work despite her having a job to support her.
    • The way Norm saves his grandfather from drowning rips off a scene from District 9.
  2. The animation is rather cheap and of low quality, and it looks like it came from a direct-to-video film rather than a feature-length animated film released in theaters.
    • The textures and rendering quality look too simplistic.
    • Characters move in rather strange and uncanny ways, which fails to work in the style they seem to be going for.
    • The animation has lots of motion blur with the characters’ movements even contributing to audiences feeling nauseous and dizzy just like with the camera spinning when they watch the film.
    • There is a scene where Norm sits on a bench and he is wet, but while he is speaking with Vera, you can see a part of his fur on his neck appear and disappear when he moves his head.
  3. The characters' motivations make no sense whatsoever:
    • Mr. Greene's plan is inherently flawed, it consists of him building condos in the Arctic, so people would buy them and live there; first and foremost, the ice caps are not only unstable (as proven in one scene where the icy ground is splitting apart and Vera is about to fall in) but also melting as a result of climate change, so why would anyone think living there is a good idea? Next, if the condos get destroyed due to the unstable icy ground or melting ice caps, the condo owners would sue Mr. Greene and win the case. Lastly, the Arctic is one of the most inhospitable and least comfortable places on the entire planet.
      • It is also even more flawed when taking into consideration that anyone living in the Arctic would have no way to obtain the resources necessary to survive, at least quickly.
      • It should also be taken into consideration that no one would want to live in the middle of nowhere, where there are no movie theaters, no supermarkets, and so on.
      • The film is even self-aware of how flawed Mr. Greene's plan is, reinforced by when the Councilwoman states, "Condos in the Arctic is a ludicrous idea!"; however, stating the problems of a film does not automatically make them go away.
    • He also wants an actor for a polar bear in his commercial, even though an actor is of no use to him whatsoever as he can literally just use Norm's grandfather for his commercial; one could argue that there is no way Norm's grandfather would be willing to be part of the commercial, even though Norm himself simply walks right into Mr. Greene's office, so clearly he also came in there with no plan.
    • Norm intends to become an actor for Mr. Greene in his commercial, which is rather pointless since if he didn't go to New York City, Mr. Greene would not be able to make his commercial and thus make his condos in the Arctic; therefore, Norm would save the Arctic by doing nothing at all.
    • Norm plans to pretend to be a human wearing a polar bear costume... because somehow real polar bears resemble fake ones.
      • Speaking of humans in polar bear costumes, the bad guys who were chasing Norm earlier randomly decide to go after a man in a polar bear costume for no adequately explained reason.
    • There are several instances where characters carelessly approach polar bears, which are supposed to be extremely dangerous animals.
    • Vera decides to hire the Lemmings upon Norm's request... even though these are the same lemmings who had just urinated in a fish tank.
    • At no point does anyone in the restaurant think it to be a good idea to call the authorities to arrest Mr. Greene, a man who had just barged in there intending to shoot someone with a tranquilizer gun; it also doesn't help that he becomes popular after this incident, which involved an individual of the same species threatened with extinction, to the point where his approval rating rises up.
    • Norm concludes that his grandfather is in the moving truck, even though there is no evidence or indication that his grandfather is in it, and even then, there is no logical reason for him to assume the people driving the moving truck are bringing his grandfather with them.
      • It turns out Norm was correct in that the people driving the moving truck are actually bringing his grandfather with them, even though they literally have no reason to do so whatsoever other than to cause further conflict.
  4. Confusing and questionable logic, such as Vera not recognizing Norm as the bear who chased her in the Arctic for some reason, despite him looking exactly alike, or Vera inexplicably being aware of his name despite the latter having never told her his name at any point, or a herd of moose playing poker with actual cards, or Norm somehow knowing what Florida is despite living his entire life in the Arctic.
    • Norm gets a lemming stuck in his mouth before he spits it out while chasing the seal; why not eat the lemming when it was in your mouth instead of chasing after the seal?
      • On that topic, the very fact that Norm himself is a terrible predator unlike other polar bears, and he still managed to survive all those years which makes zero sense whatsoever, as in real life a polar bear would've starved to death if it were a terrible predator like Norm.
  5. Internal contradictions, such as Norm stating to Mr. Greene about how he hadn't bathed, even though he was literally shown getting out of the shower a couple of scenes earlier, as well as Norm crying out "No!" for some reason upon arriving in New York City, as if he were complaining about the fact that he was in New York City, even though it was exactly his goal to head there.
  6. The relationship between the film and its audience is... not so great.
    • The film feels the so-called "need" to constantly remind the audience of Norm's goal once every ten minutes as if they were too stupid to know what his goal actually is.
    • It also wants the audience to believe that Norm is the rightful king of the Arctic, but it suffers from an emotional standpoint due to it being explained via words of exposition rather than showing it through his actions, and it also doesn't help that none of what Norm does makes him seem worthy of being a king; one technique commonly used in storytelling is "Show, don't tell!", in which however a character is described is shown through their actions, so the audience would become emotionally invested within said character.
  7. The film clearly knows nothing about biology:
    • First and foremost, hunting is treated as if it were some sort of sport in this movie when it is something animals are required to do to survive.
    • That being said, Norm is also stated to not be good at hunting; if that were the case, then he should have starved to death long ago.
    • At one point, Norm is running away from bad guys in New York, even though he should be having a heat stroke as polar bears are not used to these kinds of environments during the summer, where they can get up to 100°F.
    • In another scene, Norm states how the Lemmings lack any bones, even though lemmings in real life obviously do have bones.
    • There was even a scene where Norm gets his fur shaved, exposing his underwear hidden underneath it. We don't think this needs any explanation.
  8. Atrocious and nonsensical dialogue, notably one line from Socrates saying "We can use the Arctic to save the Arctic!"
  9. Lackluster voice acting, particularly in one scene where Mr. Greene is shouting at Vera, which sounds as if actor Ken Jeong was recording his lines from a rather far distance from the microphone; in another scene near the beginning, the audio of Norm saying "Any last words before I eat you?" sounds a bit distorted, probably due to an issue with the recording equipment and no one noticing.
    • Jeong also tries to do an American accent, but it comes off as rather phoned in and awkward at best, since he sounds very hip when doing his performance. Along with that, his New York accent sounds incredibly fake and makes Jeong sound nothing like he does in other films.
      • On top of that, this wastes the talent of Ken Jeong.
  10. The soundtrack is just plain horrible and very generic. Seriously, 90% of the music contains pop songs, such as "Shut Up and Dance" by Walk The Moon and "Shake It Off" by Taylor Swift.
  11. False advertising for two reasons:
    • Several of the posters show Norm wearing Statue of Liberty sunglasses and Norm wearing a New York t-shirt whereas, in the movie, he wears neither of those.
    • The UK DVD and Blu-ray covers claim that Fans of Madagascar and Bear in the Big Blue House will love Norm when they won't.
  12. It constantly panders to 2010s audiences, even going as far as to repeatedly show Norm twerking and shoehorning in pop songs such as "Shut Up and Dance" by Walk The Moon, the latter of which makes no sense within the context of the montage it is in (where Norm is shown dancing alone without anyone else, specifically), as the aforementioned song is about a man meeting a woman at a dance club before dancing with her; promotional material leading up to the release of the film features "Shake It Off" by Taylor Swift.
  13. Repulsive and weird designs for a LOT of the characters; for example, Norm resembles more a dog than a polar bear, and the Councilwoman looks like a chimpanzee.
  14. It constantly uses the "Disney Death" trope, in which a character is seemingly killed and then is later revealed to be alive all along; neither Norm nor his grandfather is immune from this, especially in the climax.
  15. Norm twerking not only seems to be pandering but is also rather inappropriate for a film aimed at children, as twerking is "sexually suggestive dancing characterized by rapid, repeated hip thrusts and shaking of the buttocks, especially while squatting."[3]
  16. The infamous line: "Ah, number one or number two?" This line was said by Socrates (with the wasted talents of Bill Nighy) after Norm grunts at him.
  17. It would go on to spawn three sequels, similarly to Alpha and Omega (another movie distributed by Lionsgate), and none of them were remotely good.
    • The first sequel, Norm of the North: Keys to the Kingdom, can arguably be described as the worst of the three sequels, as it features worse animation, horrendous writing that has almost no connection to the first movie, and retains the same toilet and twerking humor.
    • The second sequel, Norm of the North: King Sized Adventure, while also bad, is a bit of an improvement from the first two movies, as it features way fewer pop culture references and even has better animation and visuals compared to the first two.
    • The third sequel, Norm of the North: Family Vacation, is also a slight improvement, with the Lemmings being demoted to a smaller role, has less toilet humor, and, like the second sequel, doesn't have much pop culture references.
    • To make matters worse, it was reported in 2019 that there is also a fifth movie in the works. It is unknown if the film is canceled or not, though.
  18. As for a film that's meant to be emotional, a lot of the scenes that are portrayed as being heartwarming or sad, are rather cringe-worthy and tend to feel either mean-spirited or just poorly timed.
  19. The film has some weird product placement at times, with the entirety of Greene Homes being a major example, as it's being used for advertisement moments that serve as nothing but blatant marketing. With the constant remarks of Mr. Greene using Norm to advertise Greene Homes to put condos in the Arctic, it feels like the film is constantly trying to shove it all down the audience's faces in the cheapest and horrendous way possible.
  20. The film has no focus at all, as it constantly keeps switching plots around to get to the 1 hour and 30 minute mark. At first, the film first seems to be about Norm trying to save the Arctic, but then decides to be used for Greene's devious scheme, and then him trying to save his grandfather which, by the way, happens in the climax for no sudden reason whatsoever. This makes the film suffer from numerous plot holes and inconsistencies scattered throughout the experience, and also doesn't help the fact that it feels more like the writers gave up when making the script, which might explain how confusing the plot for this film is.

Redeeming Qualities

  1. As mentioned earlier, Norm's grandfather and Olympia are somewhat tolerable and well-developed characters.
    • Norm does at least care for his grandfather, his girlfriend, and his friends.
  2. The idea of a polar bear who doesn't know how to hunt is an interesting concept, but the execution is atrocious.
  3. "I'm Norm of the North, king of nothing."
  4. There are a couple of heartwarming moments in this film.

Reception

Critical and audience response

Norm of the North was heavily panned by critics and casual moviegoers for its animation, plot, characters, writing, voice acting, and humor. It holds a 6% on Rotten Tomatoes based on 69 reviews, with an average rating of 1.9/10, with the site's critical consensus reading, "A pioneering feat in the field of twerking polar bear animation but blearily retrograde in every other respect, Norm of the North should only be screened in case of parental emergency." On Metacritic, Norm of the North has 21 out of 100 scores based on 18 critics, indicating "generally unfavorable reviews". Audiences polled by CinemaScore gave the film an average "B-" on an A+ to F scale. It currently has a 3.5 on IMDb as well. On Letterboxd, the film has an average rating of 1/5.

Chris Stuckmann gave the film an F. Stuckmann later ranked the film at #3 in his Top 10 Worst Movies of 2016 list.

The movie currently has a Google users rating of "48% of users liked this film".

Critic Mark Dujsik gave the film 1 out of 4 possible stars, writing that "Norm of the North doesn't care about the environment, the animals of the Arctic, or even kids for that matter. It wants to be 'cute and marketable' as cheaply as possible".[4] James White of Empire gave the film 1 out of 5 possible stars, writing that "we wouldn't recommend you watch it even after you've burned through every other possibility – and that includes a blank screen".[5] Mark Kermode of The Observer called the film a "dull ... below-par Ice Age-style tale in which the highlight is a group of vulgar lemmings".[6] Michael Rechtshaffen of The Los Angeles Times called the film "blandly uninspired",[7] and Soren Andersen of The Seattle Times called the film an "idiotic animated comedy", writing that "No child should be exposed to this".[8]

Geoff Berkshire of Variety called the film a "blandly executed pic" that "will quickly head south to an ancillary afterlife".[9] Katie Rife of The A.V. Club gave the film a "D" grade, writing that "this is a movie for children. But using that as a justification for lazy work, as if kids are inherently too dumb to know the difference, isn't just condescending. In a post-Pixar world, where audiences have become accustomed to quality animated family films, it's a waste of money".[10] Stephen Schaefer of The Boston Herald gave the film a grade of "B–", writing that, despite being "hardly original ... 'Norm' has oodles of charm, a razor-sharp wit, and pacing that should keep even preschoolers attentive".[11]

Edwin L. Carpenter of The Dove Foundation gave the film its Family-Approved seal, writing that "your kids will enjoy Norm's company–he's funny and a role model for doing the right thing."[12]

Box office

As of August 16, 2016, Norm of the North has grossed $17 million in North America and $10.4 million in other territories, for a worldwide total of $30.5 million, against a budget of $18 million.[13]

The film was released on January 15, 2016, alongside 13 Hours: The Secret Soldiers of Benghazi and Ride Along 2. It grossed $9.4 million from 2,411 theaters over its opening four-day Martin Luther King, Jr. weekend, finishing 6th at the box office.[14][15]

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Comments

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