Norm (Rob Schneider) is smarter than the average bear. So, when he discovers that an unscrupulous property developer is trying to turn the Arctic wilderness into a luxury housing complex, he sets off to New York to throw a bear-shaped spanner in the works.
Posing as an actor in a bear suit, Norm quickly becomes the face of the campaign to “use the Arctic to sell the Arctic”. With the help of Vera Brightly (Heather Graham) and her super-smart daughter Olympia (Maya Kay) Norm hopes to scupper the campaign at the height of its popularity.
Unfortunately great female role-models and a promising set up isn’t enough to excuse the film’s lamentable lack of pace and structure. At some point in the design-by-committee process, it was clearly decided that Norm Of The North was far too serious. Who wants to teach kids about saving the planet, right? So, shoe-horned in at random points in the storyline, we get nonsensical dance sequences. There are also tasteless jokes and a gang of irritating lemmings, whose only part in the film seems to be to give the marketing guys something cute to sell to the kids at Christmas.
The film’s green credentials are, sadly, as shoddy and unpolished as its animation. The evil property developer is, unbelievably, a ponytailed pseudo-hippy called Greene. His partner-in-crime, Councilwoman Klubeck, is a corrupt, UN-style official. While the guys who ultimately save the day are business investors with hearts of gold. Make of that what you will.
Norm is Splash’s first feature-length animation and it’s not a total train-wreck. The voice actors do a fine job and there are genuinely some heartwarming moments. Colm Meaney, as Norm’s grandfather, and Loretta Devine as his love-interest, Tamecia, add much-needed warmth and charm.
Twerking bears, peeing lemmings, poop jokes, and an environmental message vague enough to fit any shade of politics, could make Norm Of The North the ideal family movie. Or you might want to stay the hell away.