Friday, January 15, 2016

Norm of the North


Starring (voices): Rob Schneider, Heather Graham, Ken Jeong, Maya Kay, Colm Meaney, Bill Nighy

Rated PG for Mild Rude Humor and Action

I'm not a believer in karma, but I've been seeing so many excellent movies one right after the other that I knew I was "due" for a really bad movie.  "Norm of the North" is that movie, and boy oh boy, is it bad!  There's next to no humor that's actually funny, the characters range from boring to obnoxious, the plot is occasionally incoherent, and filled with plot developments that are nonsensical and stupid.  This is one of those movies where you can imagine clueless studio executives spending all their time on market research and assembling this movie from bits and pieces of other hit movies without bothering to think about whether or not they're telling a compelling story.

Norm (Schneider) is a polar bear who can talk.  He's next in line for being king, but he's got the heart of a poet rather than a hunter.  When humans come to visit, he and the other animals put on song and dance shows for their entertainment.  He is close to his grandfather (Meaney), but he is missing.  One day a woman named Vera (Graham) comes to shoot a commercial in order to sell real estate (!).  Not liking his land to be intruded upon, Norm decides to be their mascot in order to convince people not to buy homes there.  Of course, the developer, a nasty individual by the name of Mr. Greene (Jeong), won't be dissuaded.

What moron thought this was a good idea for a movie?  Selling houses in the North Pole?  A talking polar bear that only a little girl recognizes is real?  Who thinks this stuff up?  I believe that no movie is inherently bad, but this is crosses a line.  It's too ridiculous to be believable, and there's not a hint of satire.

It's no wonder that the film is a mess, since there are three credited screenwriters.  What's especially said is that it appears that none of them can write a realistic line of dialogue.  The words exist purely to move the plot along, and they do so in a totally bland way.  It's embarrassing.

The voice acting is no better.  I'm not a Rob Schneider hater, but the best I can say is that he's unrecognizable.  Heather Graham, appearing in a nother 0.5/4 movie ("Judy Moody and the Not So Bummer Summer" was the other one), also makes it impossible to tell that it's the same actress who played Felicity Shagwell in "Austin Powers: The Spy who Shagged Me."  Ken Jeong, who can always be counted on to get a laugh in even the most lame moves, is irritating.

The movie even looks bad.  The animation is clunky, like it was made for an Xbox 360 video game, and characters' movements look mechanical.  The cityscapes have a moment or two of nice atmosphere, but that's it.

The filmmakers crammed everything they could in this movie to appeal to as many people as possible.  It's a pity that they didn't make sure that they fit.  Musical numbers, fart jokes, and even a gay joke.  Admittedly, a few of the jokes are mildly amusing, but usually they fall painfully flat, and I was staring at the screen with my mouth agape at the sheer ineptitude of this movie.

As I was leaving, someone was handing out scorecards to audience members and asking their opinions.  I gave it a D, and I was being generous.

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