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Movie Review

Norm the polar bear has a problem: He's kind of, well, too human. He's got all these feelings inside, you see, sensibilities that an arctic animal ought not have. You could say he's a bear without enough scare. And so when he sets out to hunt a seal to gobble for lunch ... he ends up cuddling the cute little thing instead.

On top of all that, Norm can talk to humans. He somehow knows their lingo. It's an ability that his grandfather had, too. But it's just one more thing that leads to Norm being teased and scoffed at by the other bears, whales and walruses in his community. Things are so bad, in fact, that little lemmings are pretty much the talking bear's only friends. Even Norm's dad, the polar bear king of the North, can't muster up much more than a frown for his quirky, softer-than-frozen-yogurt son.

The one advantage to having all this humany stuff inside, however, is that humans kind of like it. Tourists have been flooding the Arctic lately. And they can't get enough of a dancing, back-flipping, twerking polar bear. And when Norm actually talks, well, they just freak out.

The problem is, so many humans have been swarming into the frozen north lately that the rest of the animals there have been getting a bit steamed. Why, these humans are even poised to start selling modular vacation homes nearby. And do the animals want that kind of riff-raff moving in?! No!

So it's up to Norm to travel to a human city down south and put an end to it all. He'll give speeches, growl fiercely, roar—anything to get the humans' attention.

And if that fails, he can always twerk.

Positive Elements

Norm puts himself on the line to save the Arctic and its inhabitants. At the same time, he can't help but feel compassion for a single mother he meets named Vera, as well as her young daughter, Olympia, even though they're linked to the Greene Homes company that's poised to invade and exploit his homeland. He befriends the mother and daughter, and they help him in his fight-the-humans cause.

For her part, Vera is a loving mom who's willing to sacrifice her happiness for her daughter's well-being. And Norm's grandfather and father both eventually say how proud they are of him.

Spiritual Content

Greedy Mr. Greene repeatedly tries to center himself by meditating in a cross-legged lotus position.

Sexual Content

During a performance for humans, Norm is forced to wear a purple spandex suit. Vera yells, "Norm, can you please come out?" Norm looks at his attire and replies, "I think I just did." A silly sequence features the fully furred Norm "covering up" after accidentally dropping his bath towel. And as already mentioned, Norm also knows how to twerk, gyrating his furry hips suggestively for the camera.

Violent Content

Norm's lemming sidekicks are said to be virtually indestructible. Accordingly, they get stomped on, flattened, battered about, slammed teeth-first into concrete and electrocuted. Each time they pop back to normal with only a little apparent damage. Elsewhere, an orca gobbles up a seal, and Norm swallows several live blowfish whole.

During action sequences, Norm and his grandfather thump into speeding cars, fall from towering heights and sink tangled and tethered into the ocean depths. Norm gets pinned to the ocean floor by a large piece of metal debris.

A man dressed in a bear costume fights with two guys and pummels them viciously. People and animals both are shot with tranquilizer darts.

Crude or Profane Language

One instance of "oh god!" Dialogue is peppered with "geez," "oh my gosh" and "what the heck?" We also hear exclamations of "holy icicle" and "holy Hitchcock," as well as the word "crap."

Drug and Alcohol Content

A man notes that he smells like "sweet vermouth" (a flavored wine).

Other Negative Elements

Norm's lemming sidekicks urinate in a fish tank and potted plants as well as loudly passing gas throughout the movie. Arctic animals rationalize their entertain-the-humans behavior by saying, "If humans come to our land and clap, they won't come to our land and crap." Toilet humor giggles and bird droppings abound, and various backsides are poked, smacked or wiggled at the camera.

Manipulative Mr. Greene leverages other people's greed and bribes his way into getting what he wants. And he declares that he's above the law (though in the end, he finds out that he's not).

Conclusion

Jokes about what adults will be able to, um, "bear" aside, this is really a pretty awful kid's film. Constantly peeing and gas-passing lemmings, and a caboodle of butt-and-poop gags are truthfully the "pinnacle" of this pic's clichéd, failed attempts at humor—while at the same time being its main problem.

Then there's the flick's heavy-handed, anti-corporate greed, anti-humans-in-the-arctic sermonizing, politically correct preaching that's oddly delivered so passionlessly even a wide-eyed tyke will think that's it's lame. Meanwhile, action sequences feel forced. And to top it all off, the polar bears aren't even close to being huggable and cute.

So are there any even middling positive moments in the Saturday-morning-cartoonish Norm of the North? Sure, Norm acts courageously, and the quirky idiosyncrasies that make him an outsider are vindicated in the end. And there are some requisite tender moments involving Norm, Vera and Olympia.

So it's not all bad, I guess.

Just mostly bad.

Pro-social Content

Objectionable Content

Summary Advisory

Plot Summary

Christian Beliefs

Other Belief Systems

Authority Roles

Profanity/Violence

Kissing/Sex/Homosexuality

Discussion Topics

Additional Comments/Notes

Episode Reviews

Content Caution

Kids
Teens
Adults

Credits

Rating

PG

Readability Age Range

Author

Cast

Featuring the voices of: Rob Schneider as Norm; Heather Graham as Vera; Ken Jeong as Mr. Greene; Bill Nighy as Socrates; Colm Meaney as Grandfather; Maya Kay as Olympia

Director

Trevor Wall ( )

Distributor

Lionsgate

Network

Performance

Record Label

Platform

Publisher

In Theaters

January 15, 2016

On Video

April 19, 2016

Year Published

Awards

Reviewer

Bob Hoose

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