Norm of the North

Norm_of_the_North_poster

Ice Bear does not approve of this film

A pioneering feat in the field of twerking polar bear animation”-Rotten Tomatoes

Hello, Spongey here.

…Yeah, I have explaining to do. You remember that whole ASCII shit that would eat up posts? It happened again. If you want a full explanation of how it works, I go into it here:

But yeah, I wasn’t able to fix it so no Swan Princess 5 review for now. Maybe next year. Whiel the break was very nice, I wasn’t happy when I remembered what I planned for review next. Oh boy, I’m excited to do this one.

I don’t usually do my first review of film from the current year this quickly, but I think it’s earned it. I will pretty much waiting for the DVD release to finally sink my teeth into it. We’ll look at our first 2016 film review, and it’s again the first animated feature of this year.

Those just tend to suck, don’t they? And I think we’ve got the worst in a while here. This film kind of came out of nowhere. I didn’t even know of it until i got a trailer in front of Goosebumps.

It was made by Splash Entertainment whose credits some of those direct to video Alpha and Omega sequels. This is not the least bit shocking. Between the three writers, we have such masterpieces as Scooby Doo The Mystery Begins and Gym Teacher the Movie.

The director has mostly done TV shows. All of this really explains the quality of the film. Unsurprisingly, the reviews were terrible, with a mere 8 percent on RT. And it had a flat out ZERO for a few days before it got 5 decent reviews. What do those say?

will be difficult for adults to enjoy.”

Neither its animation nor voice performances are particularly memorable”

It’s very difficult to find a positive to take from the Norm of the North experience”

…How the hell is that last one fresh?

As you can tell, everyone loves this movie. The gross wasn’t too good either, so hopefully we won’t see an even worse sequel. This year, I decided to see every animated features in the theaters since I could.

Which I means I had to sit through this. Really. Here’s your proof:

20160430_023140

It was a miserable experience, but here’s the amazing thing. At first, the project kind of failed on us and couldn’t show the film properly, meaning I had to catch another screening a bit later after they fixed it.

That’s right, this is so bad even the fine films at my local cinema didn’t want me to see it. That’s…bad. Now I was so tired by the time this shit got fixed, that I couldn’t get too angry, as bad as it is.

But that’s not the case now, so I’ll hopefully get a bit angrier at this one. But is bad enough on a repeat viewing to earn anger? Let’s find out.

This, is Norm of the North

The movie opens in the Arctic, as hear our first line of dialogue:

‘Don’t listen to the haters, Norm”

…I’m not touching that one.

You’re an animal. Literally”

That was our first real joke, people.

This is a polar bear named Norm, voiced by Rob Schneider. This movie is amazing already, We see him chasing a seal and failing to catch it. We also see his main friends are Minions-I mean Lemmings. Cute little creatures that are annoying and really just serve as dumb punchlines.

Absolutely nothing like Minions, just me.

Norm catches up to the seal but the seal pleads with him not to eat him and Norm has 2nd thoughts. I figured he just has a heart but Norm says he has a story about why he won’t eat him.

Got a minute? Maybe an hour?”

Unfortunately.

When he was 13, Norm learned he could talk to humans while no other animal could. He’s a reverse Dolittle in the way. Think that concepts sound neat? Too bad, it’s only a plot device. To do what? Oh, that’s the fun part.

Young Norm talks to his Grandpa who actually that has same ability. He says this is a great gift and one day Norm will understand. This almost okay scene is than followed by the introduction of the worst thing ever.

See, human tendencies start creeping up on him.

That’s when I started doing…The Arctic Shake”

Oh no. We’ll go a bit more into that in a bit but…yeah, get ready for a lot of horribly out of touch dancing.

This ends his story to the seal. Wait, this isn’t a wraparound for the film? It’s just a lazy way for exposition? Yikes.

We are informed through even lazier exposition that Grandpa left them. We do find out what happened to him but I don’t care. Norm talks to his wacky friend who actually barely does anything, as he takes advantage of the human tourists since making them happy keeps them from ruining their home.

He forces Norm to the Arctic Shake for them, which Norm says he used for his Bachelor party. ….TMI, dude.

After more painful dancing, Norm talks to another friend, Socrates, voiced by Bill Nighy. There isn’t quite as much wasted talent as in some other animated films, but as you see, there’s a bit of it.

Next thing you know, I’m Twerking-”

And stop. 0/10, Goodbye.

.Okay, fine. It’s just that a mere 10 minutes in, this movie has stopped all chances of it being good by using that word.

Have some self respect, Norm”

Couldn’t agree more.

Norm isn’t sure about tourists coming in, and Socrates informs of something he learned: Humans are planning to move in. I’ll go into detail on this plot point later but…yeah, it’s the dumbest thing ever.

Norm tells his polar bear pals about this but of course, no one believes him or cares. Because we need a way to feel sorry for him without going to the trouble of actually making him interesting.

Norm gets a pep talk from both Socrates and some female polar bear he kind of likes. Bland love interest, gotta have those in a crappy kids movie. She leaves the scene as quickly as she appeared, thankfully.

I have to do something!”

Number one or number two?”

.Ugh.

They spot a director filming something. A man who goes all the way to arctic to film is about a smart as…the man who directed this thing, really.

Back to the whole houses thing. They are being built by Greene Industries and Vera, voiced by Heather Gramh has come to help with that. Okay, at this point you may have figured this out: This is pretty much an environmental film.

Which by itself is fine. Except, the big danger is someone building homes in the arctic …Who does that?! Who would actually build homes in the arctic? Who would actually want to live there? That makes no real sense!

In an Environmental story, it’s best to feature danger that actually happens or makes sense! Here, they are just making up shit to tell us the obvious. If it lead to anything interesting, perhaps it could still work.

Spoilers, it does not, and I’ll go further into that at various points.

Vera has a daughter who is pretty much the preacher in this, going on about how all of this is bad. She talks to the director, who Socrates takes a birdy dump on.

At least they waited 18 minutes to put in a shit joke.

He’s making a commercial for the homes so Norm tries to stop them with help from the Lemions. Who by the way, are shown to be pretty much indestructible, meaning they can’t die. This fills my soul with terror.

Norm starts messing with their film equipment, which at first does not worry them.

We’ll fix the rest in post. Anything can be fixed in post. In one of my movies, I wrote the plot in post”

That explains so much.

Norm gets rid of the camera which causes the director to leave. Too bad, he was the only tolerable character in this thing. Norm is happy but Vera is determent. Also, there’s this bit:

Humans think all animals look the same”

Cuts to the Lemmings who…all look the same. I don’t get the joke. Is the movie admitting it’s racist or something?

Vera goes out with her little camera to film something but takes a call from her daughter. Right on the dangerous ice that is about to crack. Brilliant!

Norm runs out to stop her which of course she views as him chasing her. Naturally, she thinks this is a good time to film the commercial. I will not mourn for you.

She manages to escape with her life and heads back to shelter to call her boss, Mr Greene, voiced by Ken Joeng. Yes, he’s the villain. He’s pretty much trying really hard to be Chester V from Cloudy 2 with his movements, and failing miserably.

I want something people might actually wanna watch”

Then you are in the wrong movie.

He likes the footage she got because a polar bear chasing someone is great incentive for people to move, right? He wants an actor that looks like Norm, and Norm thinks he could be that actor so he could pretty much be a double agent and figure out how to save his home.

And that’s our plot, Norm must go to New York to save the Arctic. Notice how the plot itself was kind of dumb, just for the sake of putting in the environmental message. Now you’ve found pretty much the biggest problem with the movie, but I’ll go deeper later because…it gets worse.

Through means I don’t feel like recapping, he gets to New York pretty quickly. We then cut to Vera and the daughter at this school she wants to get into. Pretty sure this goes nowhere so I don’t care.

Norm somehow ends up at Greene Industries and is caught by some guys.

Another talking bear?”

I love that this happens enough for them to say that. I hate that this has a somewhat reasonable explanation.

They chase him and Norm bumps into a guy in a polar bear costume for Mr. Greene’s thing. He’s pretty much here for a lame misunderstanding gag.

They don’t call this place a concentrate jungle for nothing”

  1. How do you know that? Did a tourist randomly mention it?
  1. Obvious lame trailer lame is terrible.

The costume guy takes care of them and Norm chats it up with him. He thinks Norm is just another Costume guy because as we established, everyone in this is a moron. Maybe I just think lowely of anyone who praises the acting skills of Rob Schneider.

We cut to Mr. Greene talking to his own bosses.

‘Condos in the Arctic is a ludicrous idea”

.Did the movie just explain why the plot doesn’t work? Okay, maybe it being a dumb idea is the point but only this person points it out and it’s still bad writing for the environment message to happen because someone does a bad thing no one would ever do.

Besides, the movie is not all clever enough for that to be part of a bigger satire.

Norm arrives at Greene’s place along with the other aspiring Polar Bear Actors. The Lemmings see a Fish Tank and…think it’s a toilet…then piss into it.

  1. paid money for this.

After…that, Norm blows Vera away with her bear-ish qualities. Because he is one. Yet she still doesn’t notice this because this is Idiot Ball: The Movie. Oh and she’s fine with the Lemions.

Cute, and Marketable”

No comment.

Meet Norm of the North!”

It doesn’t deserve the gag. So then the Lemmings piss into Green’s plants. …I got nothing. Anyway, Mr Green is scared of the realistic polar bear and wants a happy one, so Norm does the Arctic Shake for him.

Keep dong it, it will totally become a thing.

This automatically makes happy enough to hire him. Vera and Norm head out to lunch but Mr. Green is a bit suspicious due to how Norm smells very much like a real bear. Yeah, it’s the smell that tips him off, not….everything else.

He goes into his office cave (What, you don’t have one of those) and reveals that he has Norm’s Grandpa! What a twist that no one saw coming! Not sure how this happened but whatever, gives Norm something else to fight for besides…his home, which clearly was not a good enough conflict.

Norm of the North, is finished”

Is that a threat or a promise? Please be a promise!

Norm and Vera go to lunch and Vera is just okay with Norm keeping his “costume” on. At least it seems like that as she tells the puzzled people that he does not, even though she should questioned this herself before now. And she still doesn’t know Norm is a real polar bear.

They mostly talk about nothing until Greene shows up with a tranquilizer gun. In the middle of a crowded diner. Because something must be in the water in this world to make everyone an IDIOT.

And again, this is with no real proof outside of the smell. And he can’t exactly prove it to anyone else without revealing his hostage.

Thankfully, Norm helps get Greene hit with the gun instead.

Norm of the North, everyone”

You just summed it all up right there.

When he wakes up, Vera tells Greene that his outburst was all over the news and it has given them more publicity, and made their approval ratings go up.

.So Greene going into a diner with a tranquziler gun to shoot what they think is an innocent guy….makes them like him more? And no one really questions or cares? Vera’s just like “whatever”?

.I give us trying to make any sense of these fucking imbeciles.

Greene brushes it off by just telling Norm he thought he was a real bear, which is apparently okay for them. Nevermind that it doesn’t excuse his…methods, at all.

Norm of course thinks it is odd but he’s supposed to, and he doesn’t’ really make a big deal of it. As such, that night he decides to snoop around and figure out what is really going on. Then the Lemmings fart.

Huh, took 46 minutes. Way longer then expected!

After some sneaking stuff, Norm sees Green talking his bosses about his evil condo plans. Also, I think Greene now thinks Norm truly is just a guy in a suit even though from his POV that was never confirmed and he has reason to be suspicious, unless he just told the boss that to not look crazy.

In the former case it’s dumb, in the latter case….given what you did in public, that ship has sailed. Also he wakes her up to tell her this because she somehow doesn’t watch the news or whatever,

When he leaves, Norm sneaks in to find further proof of his evil.

If I were slightly creepy one note villain-”

Stop. Did you seriously just point out that he’s one note? Do I need to say this again? Pointing out your problems does no make them go away!

Due to the security cameras, Norm has the Lemmings go down into the secret cave because Lemmings walking around is totally not suspicious either. They quickly find Norm’s Grandpa and tell him about that. Wish Norm found out himself to make this shocking to him instead of making us face the damn Lemions.

Grandpa said to focus on the arctic and worry about him later. Then why didn’t Norm find out about him later if that plot point wasn’t going to matter for a while?!

Norm goes to back his plan of using his fame to help the Arctic and the next day, will go on Talk Show Spoof #445. He gets to meet Vera’s Daughter who…figures out he’s a polar bear right away.

Of course a child is the smartest character in the damn movie. Anyway with her they officially start their plan to get the public to love Norm so they can want the Arctic to be saved. Eh, not a terrible plan actually.’

Slightly….clever. Work with the villain so you can basically use his own plan against him. Wow, Norm actually shows intelligence for once! Too bad this is the only thing close to clever in the whole film.

And it doesn’t make up for how dumb everyone is otherwise.

With that, we get the becoming famous montage set to a pop tune no one will remember. At this point, the only box they haven’t used is a cliché conflict like the liar revealed. Seriously, the story is very empty outside of the basic conflict and saving the world or whatever.

Right after that, they say it’s time for Norm to announce his love of the arctic to the people at some big event. See, montages save a lot of time! Greene has a norm wear a very ridiculous costume for the event.

Are you ready to come out?”

I think I just did”

This movie is bad.

After he does the Arctic Shake (SERIOUSLY IT’LL CATCH ON I SWEAR), he finally gives a speech talking about how Greene sucks and how building homes in the Arctic is bad.

But Greene uses his tech skills to make Norm say he approves of the homes and broadcasts that, which changes the peoples minds and makes them somehow forget about everything Norm said.

In a better movie, I would assume even the background people being dumb would be the point given how dumb audiences tend to be. In this movie, it’s the writers not giving a single shit.

This stunt get so much approval that Greene says it’s time to start putting in those homes. But Vera says he has no clearance to do so. Hearing this, he changes his mind and decides to good from now-of course he doesn’t care, he’s evil and this is a children’s movie!

Norm is more than a little upset and goes off to mope.

I’m Norm of the North. King of Nothing”

You make my job almost too easy.

Vera tries to lift his spirit by having him over for Dinner at her place. Please don’t turn into Bee Movie. He uses this chance to talk to the daughter about taking down Greene,and they decided to go the investor people that Greene is evil and shows them the proof he got earlier.

So the people investing in him weren’t aware that putting houses in the Artic isn’t exactly a good thing no matter who is doing it? Especially a guy as obviously evil as this?

One guy yells at Greene over this but he says the first four homes are built and ready to go so they have to invest if they get there, so Norm must stop this. We are now getting to the paert where the movie just gets….boring.

It’ll get worse but a lot of the film just becomes them doing stuff, and due to all the problems, I don’t care and I get really bored. So don’t expect a lot of wit in some parts.

Commence operation Kill that Bear!”

This not deserve any of the bear memes.

Greene decides to get rid of anything that reminds him of the Arctic which means shipping off Grandpa and giving us more chase scenes. I recall this is the exact part where I pretty much zoned out, and of course anytime that happens in a movie, it slows down and the path to the credits becomes much longer.

Norm finds his Grandpa and frees him. Apparently Grandpa just got struck down and taken, and I have no idea how no one saw or heard this happen. It’s a good thing they are vague so they get away with lazy plot holes like that!

Greene’s goons manage to shoot Norm and his Grandpa down and tie them up. They manage to free themselves incredibly quickly (because of course a conflict becomes pointless) and hop on the boat headed to the Arctic.

We get a vain attempt at emotion with Grandpa telling Norm he is awesome even if his ways are different. I was not aware Norm was treated differently due to how he acted. No one seemed to care either way and there was no conflict made of it.

Speaking of conflict, they bump into a storm and the Lemmings barf. Took 76 minutes on that one! They also make a quick Titanic reference when the boat tips over because this movie is still bad.

Then, I shit you not, we have a near death scene where Norm drops to the bottom of the ocean and he sees earlier clips of the film. Because there so much great content to remember and Norm was complex enough for me to care if he dies!

It doesn’t last one as he is able to get up. That wasn’t pointless and stupid at all. He’s lost from his pals but the homes are gone so I’d call it even. Actually, it’s more of a win as the Investors leaked proof of Green’s evil deeds.

‘These Condos weren’t for any of you peasants anyway, they were for the 1 Percent!”

…Then why did it matter if they approve of Norm? Are you so desperate that you just wanted to screw them over like that? This guy is too dumb to live. To prove that, he falls down a sewer grate. Another lame defeat to add to the list.

Norm wakes up in the Arctic, having conveniently washed up there. Because we haven’t had enough forced emotion, they say they couldn’t find Grandpa. And he’s gonna pop up so soon that this whole bit is pointless. Am I on the money?

In the meantime, his Arctic pals thank him for saving the day even if they haven’t’ seen Greene’s proper defeat and shouldn’t be too happy yet.

Now just a new York minute!”

Grandpa!”

I hate it when I’m right.

They don’t even take the time to discuss anything or celebrate his return, they just go back to crowning Norm king of the Arctic. I’m so glad that minor thing about Norm being King payed off. Man, I’m getting bitter. You would be too if you made it this far.

Speaking of things I forgot about, we cut to Vera and her daughter who did these, as you recall. They flat out tell us that some guy become her new boss and they are happy that Norm found his way back home.

Wait, shouldn’t we get a proper goodbye scene of Norm just leaving them and having this bit? They barely made a connection as it is, may as well force an end to it instead of being flat out lazy!

Also, didn’t the daughter have this whole thing with school that I skipped? We gonna address that at all? No? Whatever.

We seem to cut later as we see that Norm is with that one polar bear chick and they have kids. Yeah, remember that girl who was in like one or two really quick bits and did NOTHING even by the standards of this story?

They hooked up because fuck you. This is where the film ends, with them looking up at the stars. What a fitting note to end given my tiny joke. I can safely I expected it to end abruptly, in such a way that it makes the worse and makes like they really didnt’t care about making the story dynamic or good at all.

But of course we can’t technically end without A DANCE PARTY! Because that Arctic Shake will catch on, no matter how hard they have to hammer it in! We can’t end with any dignity after all.

Again, I paid for this.

Final Thoughts:

Okay, let’s try to be a bit more…fair. We all love hyperbole, so let’s try to calmly explain why this movie is just…bad. If you strip of the stupid, the plot isn’t really a terrible idea. I actually think the concept of someone technically working with the villain in order to take him down is kind of interesting, even in this context.

It could lead to something interesting, and hell even the environmental slant could work. I get the sense they almost wanted to be slightly interesting with the environmental stuff. Perhaps this could have worked as a just a simple kiddie flick.

I don’t want to act like the filmmakers are horrible people, especially I don’t think anything is “offensive” or anything. But man…does it seem like they didn’t care. And it’s all brought down by one simple thing:

It’s in theaters.

Everything about this screams Direct to Video. The simple story and style of humor just seems like something not meant to be taken seriously like a lot of animated features out there.

And of course the animation is…bad. I mean, I have seen worse in something like Leo the Lino but even by the standards of lower budget films, this is just lame. The human designs try too hard to be stylized so they all just look creepy with their huge eyes and their movements make them even worse, especially with Greene.

Most of the animals look almost passable, but Norm especially looks off. He just has these awkward jerky movements, and they clearly didn’t put enough effort into the textures, making a lot of the film look incredibly lazy.

Some of it looks mediocre, but most of it is laughable. For a Direct to Video film, it would just be typically bad, but for a theatrical release, it’s kind of terrible.

But if the animation was the biggest problem, I wouldn’t be here. As I have said, the writing is…beyond stupid. All this iflm cares about it spreading it’s lame Environmental message. It doesn’t care about creating an interesting story or making sense.

The plot is really basic and throws in nothing interesting. This makes things really boring, especially with how weak the other elements are. Stuff like Vera’s deal is so pointless it barely makes things any more interesting.

It doesn’t help that this film is beyond stupid. Characters make the stupidest and most inexcusable decisions in this, with nothing really making any sense. Sometimes it’s fine but usually there’s no reason to be this dumb.

If they actually tried to make me care, I could let it slide, but nope. The way it’s written makes it hard to care, even if it has minor moments where they almost try. The ending is so rushed it makes it seem like a very sloppy story that had no effort into it.

Because it kind of is, but I like to think the writers did try and ,…mistakes were made. I’m not cynical enough to think they are terrible people. Oh, and the characters are very one note and are weak by the end.

Norm is the most “interesting” which is …sad. The Lemmings are so annoying that I won’t hear a word about the Minions anymore, and Greene is one of the worst villains to grace a kid movie with how stupid he is, without being funny.

I will freely admit that on it’s own, it’s just kind of bad as there are beaks between painful parts and it’s mostly just boring and stupid. I had a much worse time watching Hoodwinked 2 and Walking with Dinosaurs to a lesser extent.

But oh boy, is it bad as a theatrical film. Even something like the recent Rachet and Clank had way more going for it as a feature, due to feeling like a real movie. This is just a lazy piece of nothing ,with bad writing that cares more about the environment than logic, and animation that is inexcusably bad.

I don’t hate watching it as much as some others, but it’s still very bad and just…not worth it. Is it worse than Strange Magic and Legends of Oz. Oh yeah. But I’m still not sure about the worst of 2011 and 2013 vs this, I’ll think about it.

I do know that nothing will top this as the worst animated film of the year, even if something Angry Birds ends up being bad. At least that looks like a freaking theatrical movie.

…It’s bad, but you already knew that.

Grade: D

Hopefully Jason can cheer me up. Well, if I can find him that is.

See ya.

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About Spongey444

I'm 20 and I'm a slightly below average man who can barely spell. I mostly spend my time watching TV and movies, hence why i ended doing a blog all about those things. I tend to have weird tastes, but I like think I'm just fair on things.
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