From the very moment I saw this trailer, I knew something was off. Not even kidding, barely one second into it, nothing felt right. The animation was terrible, the script seemed like it was written by a four year old, and the humor was non-existent. Some time later down the road, I did a little IMDb search and discovered this: Rob Schneider voiced the title character. Well, don’t need to look much further than that to know how much of a trainwreck awaits those who see this… which was probably just me, and I didn’t have to pay for it. Well, the most I could hope for was that this movie was so bad, it might be entertaining, but after seeing the ratings it was getting (IMDb = 2.2/10 [as of 1/18/2016] and RottenTomatoes gave it a 0% [as of 1/18/2016]), I didn’t have high hopes for that possibility. I was asking myself, “this movie is just going to be straight-bad, isn’t it?” Well, I said a prayer for my soul and brain that was most likely going to melt out of my ears as sat down to watch this movie. This is my honest opinion of NORM OF THE NORTH.
Norm (voiced by Rob Schneider) is a friendly polar bear with the special power of speaking to humans, a talent he shares with his grandfather (voiced by Colm Meany). However, as much as he doesn’t mind humans, he doesn’t want them to take up residence in his own home and force the rest of his polar bear brethren out. His nightmare comes true when the dastardly Greene Homes corporation, run by the sinister Mr. Greene (voiced by Ken Jeong), unveils its plan to build condos in the Arctic. Norm, being the only polar bear that can speak to the humans, as well as no one believing that the humans are even there at all, it’s up to Norm to save his home.
When I got popcorn, I should have ordered it burnt. I wanted to see if I would rather have shoved that down my gob and made myself sick rather than continue to watch this movie. Boy howdy did I regret not getting that burnt popcorn. It was absolutely horrid.
Before I get into the review itself, I wanted to expand on the my pre-viewing research into the movie. I was heart-broke to see who else was in the movie. Bill Nighy? Ken Jeong? Seriously, gentlemen, you have careers! I know that this movie won’t be seen by anyone but… why? Who blackmailed you into this? And Heather Graham. Dear, sweet, beautiful, potentially talented miss Graham, you were SO close. To this day, I fondly remember her in AUSTIN POWERS: THE SPY WHO SHAGGED ME. She was probably one my biggest 90’s, early 2000’s crushes. I didn’t even like THE HANGOVER, but I remember HER being the one saving grace, as criminally brief as her role was. Man, I would swear a pound to a penny that there was talk that HANGOVER was going to be Graham’s comeback film (or was that just my extreme wishful thinking?). Never happened. Her career has faded into obscurity, despite some memorable mainstream roles, occasionally reminding the XXX portion of the internet how incredibly frequent her tits show up on camera and that’s not why I liked Graham in the first place. I want to believe that she has talent, but for now, she’s not entirely different than Schneider himself: if she’s in it, it’s probably going to be bad (in her defense, it won’t be BECAUSE of her).
As you can see, this will be a fun rant because I just spent an entire paragraph on just WHO was in the movie, rather than bash the movie itself. Now… let’s get to it.
The animation, as most can tell, is embarrassingly sub-par. Never mind that it looks so bad that it makes anything by CartoonNetwork seem like the CITIZEN KANE of animation, but this bad animation is animated in a way that isn’t even consistent with itself, if that makes any sense. Some characters are animated unnaturally bouncy or even too cartoonish for it’s own good. This is especially noticeable for the character Mr. Greene. Seriously, he’s animated like a Hannah-Barbara character, except while those characters are timeless and funny, this is… the ocular equivalent to a cavity. It doesn’t help that Jeong’s voice made me want to rip my ears off.
The basic set-up of a carnivorous animal who can’t hunt is a blatant rip-off of Dreamworks’ SHARK TALE. Dear god, the creators of NORM not only had to be a rip-off, but a rip-off of one of Dreamworks’ worst movies. CLEARLY they’re trying to set the bar substantially high (did anyone catch my sarcasm?). And don’t get me started on this script. “Take a picture, it’ll last longer” who fucking says this anymore, but any paid actor in a bad movie? Painful puns littered all over the place, it’s enough to make your head explode. Nothing makes sense, like when Norm tells everyone that the humans are here WITH PROOF, everyone just laughs at him, including his own father, who just tells him to stop going into territory that he’s not allowed in. I’m sorry, do you guys just happen across plastic flamingos in the Arctic every evening stroll? Not even a single bear to investigate his claims? You can probably also gather that on top of it’s lack of coherence, it’s incredibly mean-spirited. I mean, the characters laughing at Norm seem to be cackling pretty wildly. Great lesson for kids: “does someone believe in something out of the norm? Howl with laughter at him because he’s a weird mother fucker.” Spot on, film-makers, you’re a gift to humanity…
And here we go, the tried and true recipe for a guaranteed bad movie: bodily-waste humor. This movie has fart jokes, pee jokes, and it’s disgusting. I can’t imagine a single person, kid or otherwise, laughing at any of these things. Okay, maybe babies… but only if THEY aren’t bored by this point. And those jokes just keep going. It’s like they think the audience is laughing so hard that these gags need to linger for at least a solid minute. If anyone shares my standards for comedy, then you will agree that this is BEYOND obnoxious.
I even remember a gay joke. Yeah, Norm walks out dressed in a flashy attire after being told, “to come out.” His response is, “I think I just did.” Um… NO ONE, the screen-writers, Schneider, fucking NO ONE has the social clout or respectability to make a joke like that, ESPECIALLY in a kids movie!
Another big thing that I’ve noticed in comparing bad kids movies with good ones is that this movie doesn’t shut the fuck up. Compared to an animated titan like INSIDE OUT, there’s a lot of quiet scenes, a lot of slow scenes, giving the audience a minute to not only catch their breath from the excitement, but also to let the emotional weight sink in to their minds. But this elephant shit of a movie… it’s constantly moving, incessant noise, I wanted to bang my head against the seat in front of me, but two things held me back. First, the seats are delicate and I didn’t want to break it, and second, I would only have contributed to the unwanted jack-hammering that this movie called “noise.”
Should I even bother mentioning how this movie recycled the late 90’s early 2000’s comedy cliche of having the camera utilize it’s wide-angle lens to face-fuck the character on screen? That would be it’s own atrocity were it not for the fact that these characters are poorly designed and some of them are so poorly designed, they’re almost creepy. Yeah, scary imagery. I probably should have seen that coming since it IS a Rob Schneider-involved movie. It’s one thing if you want to scare adults, sir, but leave our defenseless children alone. We know to avoid you, kids don’t.
You want to know the kicker, dear readers? It got to a point where I just said “fuck it,” popped open my recently-purchased novel Room (yeah, the one that was made into my second favorite film of 2015) and just started reading it. A lot of good it did me because I could still HEAR this fucking movie in my left ear and it’s not a good sign when I’m not even watching it, but I can still HEAR how bad it is.
My soul hurts. I want to hug my soul, but it’s not a physical thing. I weep and mourn for the man who walked into that auditorium before he walked out a broken man… a deeply disturbed man… I exaggerate, of course, but GOD DAMN IT, THIS MOVIE OWES ME AN APOLOGY!!! I didn’t pay a cent for it, but I want my money back. Please, parents of the world, don’t bring your kids to see this movie. It’s not worth it. Let your kids beg, scream, and throw a tantrum. This isn’t worth the money in your bank account, the time of day, the gas in your car, or the ache in your head. Stay as far away from this movie as possible.