"Norm of the North"
Release Date: Jan. 15, 2016
Running Time: 86 minutes
It’s Saturday afternoon. You need to keep your kids occupied for several hours so you can tidy the house or get a start on the taxes. Your kids have seen every Disney, Pixar and DreamWorks animated feature multiple times. So you search Netflix for something—anything!—new for them to watch. Finally, you come across an animated feature you never knew existed. It appears to have been made in Europe or South Africa, and the voice cast features actors you have not thought about since the end of the Clinton administration. But the cover photo looks cute—it features a dolphin and an octopus splashing around in the ocean—and it runs 90 minutes. Bingo. You hit play and hope the kids will sit quiet until the end credits. Norm of the North—which isn’t from Disney, Pixar and DreamWorks—is the theatrical equivalent of one those generic knockoffs that’s diverting fun for as long as it’s on but it’s not something your kids would demand to watch more than once. In fact, Norm of the North’s marquee attraction is Rob Schneider, who’s spent much of the past decade lending his voice to such negligible animated offerings as Dino Times, Koala Kid, The Reef, The Reef 2: High Tide, and Wings. Norm of the North is your classic “fish out of water” misadventure that’s set in a New York City that’s so lifeless and nondescript that you wonder whether director Trevor Wall or his animators have ever been to the Big Apple. The Schneider-voiced polar bear Norm leaves the chilly confines of his beloved Arctic home to persuade the good folks of New York City that a plan to build a hip housing community in the Arctic isn’t as eco-friendly as it sounds. It’s awfully convenient that Norm can talk like a human. Anyway, this allows Norm to pass himself off as an actor in a polar bear suit, assume the job of the homebuilder’s spokesperson, and covertly work against its oily CEO, Mr. Greene. Voiced with annoying petulance by Ken Jeong, Mr. Greene is a generic baddie whose plan to populate the Arctic doesn’t make any sense any way you look at it—especially financially—but at least it allows Norm of the North to make a half-hearted plea to keep one of the planet’s most unique places unique. Just like the polar bear that can somehow talk to humans, Norm of the North’s lacks style, personality, and imagination when it comes to its animation and execution. Its idea of beguiling its young audience is to turn Norm into a break-dancing fool whenever things drag to a halt. At least Norm’s closest allies, three cute lemmings, provide a few genuine laughs by acting and behaving like Minions in fur coats. It’s not that Norm of the North is bad or offensive. It’s just lazy and instantly forgettable. But that probably won’t mean anything to the parents who want to get their kids out of the house on a cold Saturday or Sunday afternoon and don’t care that Norm of the North isn’t the next Frozen or Inside Out.
Aired: Jan. 14, 2016
Web site: http://www.normofthenorth.movie/