Directed by Trevor Wall. Produced by Nicolas Atlan, Ken Katsumoto, Steve Rosen, Liz Young, and Mike Young. Written by Daniel R. Altiere, Steven M. Altiere, and Malcolm T. Goldman. Release date: January 15, 2016.
You know how some people come out of a movie and proudly proclaim “this was the worst movie I’ve ever seen?” And then, just a few weeks later, they’ll do it again? I try very hard not to be one of those people. But, for the life of me, I can’t think of an animated theatrical release worse than Norm of the North. This film, originally scheduled to be released direct-to-video, has been released on over 2400 screens in North America. It’s worse than your typical CGI TV show aimed at two-year-olds. It’s worse than a first-year animation student’s two-minute short he made while fooling around. It’s worse than Adam Sandler‘s last four movies combined.
Okay, that last one is going a bit too far. His last three movies combined!
Norm of the North is about a polar bear (Rob Schneider) who can inexplicably speak “human” – apparently a universal language – and whose icy home in the Arctic is being put at risk as a businessman, Mr. Greene (Ken Jeong, who’s just having an awful weekend), wants to build condos there. So, he travels to New York City to make outdated pop culture references! Whoops. I mean: to save his home! To do so, he becomes Mr. Greene’s #1 spokesperson. Yes, that’s his plan. But, then, Greene’s plan is to sell condos in the Arctic of all places, so who’s the stupidest one here? (Hint: Anyone wasting their hard-earned money on Norm of the North.)
Mostly, though, he spends his time in New York making those aforementioned pop culture references and twerking, because if there’s one thing we need in movies aimed at the under-10 crowd, it’s a twerking polar bear – a twerking polar bear who “dances” for a good five minutes of Norm of the North‘s 90-minute running time. Then again, if he’s dancing – which he calls the “Arctic Shake” – at least we don’t have to focus on any of the film’s other abysmal elements.
Norm of the North is cinematic excrement that has been shoveled into a bunch of theaters in hopes of luring in children who have no taste and parents who just want a break. You deserve better than this.
Where does one begin with an atrocity like this? Well, since it’s an animated movie, let’s talk about the animation. You can see the trailer and be aware that it’s awful, but the trailer doesn’t even show you its complete lack of quality. Almost all of the movement is rigid, save for Mr. Greene, who looks like the son of Gumby and Edna Mode, with a body made of rubber and a perpetual smirk on his face. All of the models lack detail; the characters are rendered with poorly textured PS2-quality CGI, while the buildings and inanimate objects look like they were drawn in Google’s SketchUp – that might even be too kind. The characters’ mouths often don’t even match what’s being monotonously blurted out by the voice actors.
Norm is voiced by Rob Schneider, which may already be enough to tell you the quality of performance you’re going to get out of him. He’s bland and couldn’t generate a laugh if the auditorium was filled with nitrous oxide – something that is probably safer and more enjoyable for your children than taking them to see Norm of the North. Heather Graham phones in her performance, Ken Jeong is so over-the-top stupid you can’t take him seriously, and Bill Nighy sounds bored as a wise seagull. Maya Kay voices the daughter of the Heather Graham character, here playing one of those super-smart children you would rather never hear from again. She gets to deliver the film’s message – and nothing else – about environmentalism, and the vocal performance makes you think that maybe, just maybe, we should destroy the Arctic to spite her.
Norm of the North also has the audacity to include three lemmings, which are such transparent attempts to mimic the success of Minions that there’s a scene in the film where another character refers to them as “cute and marketable.” They attempt to provide us laughter with such riveting moments like: urinating into an aquarium; giving someone a massage and manicure, despite having never left the Arctic; instinctually knowing someone is good or evil, and then showing off that “ability”; and mostly just more potty humor. All of the jokes in Norm of the North can be put into three categories: (1) toilet humor, (2) pop culture references, and (3) twerking.
It’s not hyperbole to say that Norm of the North is the worst theatrically released animated movie of all time. It has no redeemable factors, nothing that comes even remotely close to being worthwhile, and it’s not even laughably bad. It has animation that wouldn’t pass muster on a mid-level CGI TV show, its voice actors sound bored, or perhaps obligated, it completely lacks in the joke and story department, and it can’t even get its environmental message delivered in a meaningful, impactful, or even worthwhile way. Norm of the North is cinematic excrement that has been shoveled into a bunch of theaters in hopes of luring in children who have no taste and parents who just want a break. You deserve better than this.
Bottom Line: Norm of the North is the worst theatrically released animated movie of all time.
Recommendation: You can watch literally anything else instead of Norm of the North and be better off for it.[rating=0]
If you want more of Matthew “Marter” Parkinson, you can follow him on the Twitter @Martertweet and check out his weekly movie podcast.