Norm of the No Thanks
I need you to get an image in your head. Christmas was just around the corner and I know you’ve all seen Elf, some too many times… you know who you are. Now, place yourself in the scene where the team is sitting in Walter Hobbs’ boardroom thinking of new ideas for a children’s book to save their jobs, and little person Miles Finch (Peter Dinklage) walks in to pitch a story. First he asks the writers what they have so far…
One reports, “We open on a young tomato, he’s had some tough times down at the farm, and you know rabbits…” and the second says, “What about this? A tribe of asparagus children, but they’re self conscious about the way their pee smells?” Hobbs replies, “Apparently all we have is vegetables…” This movie is the ridiculous brainchild of that team.
Ladies and Gentlemen I give to you the directorial debut of Trevor Wall, an animated action comedy distributed by Lionsgate, Norm of the North. And here is a horrific stat: this film had an 18 million dollar budget, it grossed $9.5 million at the box office and it was supposed to go straight to DVD. It was granted a theatrical release, and I’m just not sure why.
The scoop is that poor Norm (Rob Schneider) is a hippie polar bear from the Canadian Arctic who can’t seem to hunt, thus all the Arctic animals make fun of him. Especially a very acrobatic killer whale and a gaggle of knuckle headed moose. He finds the road to redemption in the form of humans moving to the area, who threaten all of his buddies. Norm has to do what he was born to do and travel to New York City to stop Mr. Greene (skinny-jean-wearing, chain-slinging, man-bun-wielding, bougie-business-man in NYC voiced by Ken Jeong) from building luxury real estate in the Arctic. Luckily enough, Norm can talk to humans and all of the bird-brained New Yorkers thinks he’s an exceptionally talented and convincing street performer. Way to underestimate us, right? However, it’s not weird to see three headless Elmos having burritos together in a Time Square restaurant because I have an excellent picture of that one.
Helping Norm disrupt the plans for the Arctic mega community, is Olympia (Maya Kay) a cute little red headed chick with outdated (not in the cool way) glasses. Together with three goofy lemmings, they try to derail the plans to potentially ruin Norm’s home.
The film has received majorly unfavorable reviews and has earned itself a whopping 2.6 on IMDb, and 23% on Metacritic. The one good thing about this movie is that you can use it as an opportunity to teach kids what a lemming is. I’m pissed I tallied all those student loans and no one has ever taught me about lemmings. In case you’re like me without the slightest idea, here’s what to tell the kiddies: “ It’s a rat with no tail, lives in the cold and seems a lot like a vole. They weigh one to four ounces which is the range for a good, stiff drink. Maybe leave that last bit out, but come on it’s snowing, we need whiskey.
The film sports a decent array of actors including Bill Nighy, Loretta Devine and Gabriel Iglesias, but even they can’t rev this one up for me. The jokes were back-to-back but not funny enough for any adult much less a knowledgeable child. I would classify this as a toy for 4- instead of 4+ in Target. The storyline was typical and forced but I suppose the lessons were basic enough for children to follow. This is the Entertainment Industry, and I think this polar bear falls short of the par. It leaves me asking myself, what did they spend all the money on? Schneider can’t be that expensive.
I personally didn’t connect with Norm of the North. I expect a better storyline from that kind of budget. We have been spoiled with animation lately with films like Tangled and Inside Out. I just don’t care to waste time and money on lazy animation, even SpongeBob’s game has been amped. So if its time filler for your kids to sit quietly and veg out while you cook dinner on a Monday night, go for it, I bet this film is ten stars for you. To me, Norm is something wrapped in a paper sleeve you buy for your kid when a bootlegger approaches you in Brooklyn. I have no desire to watch this again and I will stick to spoon-feeding my children Fern Gully because the music is way better than Twerkie Swift’s played out, “Shake It Off.”