Norm of the North – Film Review

If you thought you could surprise the kids by taking them out to see this movie, don’t bother. After they have watched Norm of the North, whenever they look up at you again, they might only know you as Boring Uncle Paul.
I am not really sure where this story tries to fit in. It is obscure whether it is more suited for cinema or for television, but the golden question is whether it deserved to be created at all.
All I know is I regret making Norm of the North my film of choice for this week.
Let me tell you, if you have watched all of the slapstick, fish-out-of-water, coming of age, dancing animal movies, then you have already watched this one. We are presented a basketful of clichés when Mr. Greene (Ken Jeong), a greedy businessman, attempts to market his real estate developments in the North Pole, and Norm (Rob Schneider), a talking polar bear, finds himself in New York City on a mission to save his home.
It is sad that this movie has been on circuit for so long. I only watched it because there were not many other options. A persistent voice in my head kept telling me to get up and watch Love is a Four Letter Word. But it was too late, I judged it because it starred Khanyi Mbau and now I had to pay the price, make myself comfortable and watch Norm instead.
Many times I asked myself whether it is a requirement for mainstream animation to produce anything fresh any more. It seems like we have to go through at least five chewed up animation stories before Hollywood finally shows us a good one.
Even the graphics appear to have been made at least ten years ago, with low resolution images and incredibly dull artwork (I think two of the human characters even looked exactly like the one from Rio, with straight-cut bobs and brownish-red hair). Norm’s lemming friends/helpers are like Gru’s minions from Despicable Me and, for some reason, the producers thought that a twerking bear would be a hit. It is obvious that they tried to make something hip and modern, but they failed. If there are any interesting characters and climactic moments in the plot, they barely make it off the ground as anything novel.
We have watched how animals assimilate human characteristics for years and I doubt this trope is likely to die down any time soon. Maybe it is what the kids enjoy – fair enough. But many animated films have managed to produce content that is smart, where the story and characters are meaningful and have layers. I just do not see that in Norm of the North.
They say time is money and you may end up wasting both if you watch this. But if you wait a bit longer, when the DVD ends up in the clearance bin at Musica for N$10, it could end up being a really good investment. For the mere price of N$10, on one of those rebellious nights, you will finally have something that can get your kids to fall sleep.

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