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Norm of the North – Movie Review

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Norm of the North – Movie Review

Rating: F (Bottom of the barrel with no redeeming qualities to be found)

Trailer/Thumbnail Courtesy eOne Films

Animation is such an amazing medium, used to create so many imaginative and beautiful stories. There is remarkable animation currently being produced all over the world and whether they come from a major studio or a small independent house, they help move the medium forward. Then you have films like Norm of the North, which give animation a bad name. The saddest part about films of this low quality is seeing the list of talented artists that litter the end credits. They deserve to work on better projects than pieces of schlock like this one, which should be sitting at the bottom of the five dollar bin at Wal-Mart. That somebody actually watched this film and felt its name should grace cinema marquees is astounding.

What is immediately striking about Norm of the North is how crummy it looks. This is computer animation at its worst, looking like it spent no time in the rendering farm. The characters move so quickly that it’s hard to even tell what’s going on, because of the motion blur. The character designs are unappealing and lack any sort of charm and originality, with the animals looking like rejected cereal mascots and the humans are an eyesore. Even the defecating chipmunks of The Road Chip had a more endearing appearance. It’s a direct-to-video product that should not be playing beside Pixar and Blue Sky productions at the local multiplex.

The story is idiotic from start to finish with characters doing the most unintelligent actions. This is a universe where every single person in New York sees a polar bear walking around the city and assumes it’s a man in a costume. Nobody does the most logical action in this movie. There’s a problem when thirty minutes in, one starts to wonder why the bear doesn’t eat the villain so the film can end and the audience can go home early. All of the characters are annoying and one-dimensional, with the main antagonist being one of the worst villains in an animated film. As voiced by Ken Jeong, this character frequently grates on the nerves and his plan is ridiculously convoluted. The screenplay for Norm of the North also seems to have little idea how marketing works.

The attempts at comedy only induce groans, whether they are forced references to famous film directors or irritating lemming sidekicks performing an extended urine joke. The movie also graces us with Norm the polar bear dancing to a pop tune more times than can be counted on one hand (and yes, he even refers to “twerking” by name). Worst of all, none of the characters ever stop talking or shouting and you just want to put a muzzle over their mouth. The times when Norm of the North go for heart are nauseating and written without a pulse and the character relationships are next to none to the point a romance between Norm and another bear gets less than a minute of screen time. Even with its short runtime of about 80 minutes, Norm of the North has the gall to give us about five endings, along with fake fade outs. They are all absolutely pointless and to the surprise of nobody, there is even the dance party finale.

Animation is sophisticated enough for audiences to not accept this sort of lowest common denominator dreck. Defenders will throw the “it’s only for children” reason and while this is definitely only aimed at the younger set and not the entire family, that is not a legitimate excuse. Just because something is merely aimed at children does not mean it has to be lacking in a good story, well-developed and likeable characters and low-quality visuals. It certainly should not descend into the disgusting toilet humour and low IQ-ed protagonists we’re treated to in Norm of the North. There is absolutely nothing in this film that one can compliment it on. Thankfully, this film was released early in the year, so we can quickly forget about it and move on to much better animated features.

Stefan Ellison

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