Norm of the North movie full length review - A Kids Movie with a Message
Don't look at the box art for this film and think it's going to be a heavy handed movie dealing with climate change or a light hearted romp through New York.
Sure it will take on the topic in a subtle manner but it does so in such a way as to not offend one side of the topic and make the point for the other. The end result is a fun movie for kids that will make them realize we have to treat this planet with respect while at the same time not insult people who feel there is no cause for panic yet.
Norm is a polar bear with a problem. The son of the polar bear king at the North Pole he can't seem to act like the rest of the bears. First off he can't catch anything he hunts for and secondly he can talk. Not just bear talk but talk so that humans can understand him, a trait only his missing grandfather shared. This comes in handy as the north is fast becoming a tourist attraction with humans flocking to see the animals in their "natural" habitat. I say "natural" because animals like Norm's brother realize they can get things from humans like food if they act the way the humans expect them to.
Things take a turn for the worse when a land developer decides to start building vacation homes at the north. A future with tons of people everywhere and a land covered in these homes would be devastating to the wildlife there and take away their ability to live their lives as they're supposed to. Norm realizes this and sets out to stop it. To do so he stows away on one of the model houses after a commercial shoot there uses footage of him.
The house, and Norm, arrive in New York City and he tracks down the main office of the company intent on building the homes. The company is run by Mr. Greene, a devious manipulator with dreams of vast fortunes at any costs. Working for him is Vera, a woman who longs to have her bright child Olympia attend a prestigious school. Mr. Greene, a graduate of the school, has promised to help her in this cause once the homes have been built. Norm arrives at their offices just as they are auditioning actors to pose as the polar bear that Vera filmed on location, namely Norm.
Norm does get the job and everyone thinks he's really an actor in a polar bear suit. He becomes a star around the office and rather than get the chance to make his case for not building the homes the footage is manipulated to make it appear just the opposite. With the help of Olympia, who knows the truth and doesn't want to see the north ruined, Norms sets out to stop Mr. Greene.
So is the movie any good? Yes it is. It entertains on a number of levels and gets the message across that we don't need to spread ourselves everywhere on the planet at the costs of the animals living there. Not only that, it does so in a non-offensive manner as well. While the voice talents include Rob Schneider, Heather Graham, Ken Jeong and Gabriel Iglesias, and all do well, I often have a hard time trying to credit the actors when the film is animated. That being said they do a pretty good job here.
The only negative I can offer here is in the animation and honestly it's not a terrible thing. Being exposed to so many great animated sequences and films from Pixar, the premier studio in the field, you find yourself comparing any other feature made to that gold standard. NORM does a good job but is just slightly off in ways that are hard to describe. That being said it really wasn't distracting and kids won't notice. It's nice to see another studio making the attempt.
The best thing to be found in the film is the comic relief and that's supplied by the lemmings. The furry little rodents steal the show from Norm much like the Minions stole the thunder from Gru in the DESPICABLE ME movies. Depicted here as indestructible they offer the most hilarious moments as Norm's companions at home and on his adventure. And just like the Minions they never talk but just rattle on.
On the whole this movie is a fun outing that the whole family can enjoy. It also opens the door to talk to kids about protecting the environment without being preachy or taking aim at anyone who feels the ways to do so are up for discussion. Rather than say the science is closed it says let's talk about this and see what kind of solution we can come up with. For me at least this seems like a responsible way to let kids know and hopefully will help them grow up to find solutions rather than focus on who to blame