Norm of the North (2016)

Norm of the North poster.jpg
Polar Opposite of Quality

Director: Trevor Wall
Running Time: 90 Minutes
Starring: Rob Schneider, Heather Graham, Maya Kay, Ken Jeong, Colm Meaney, Loretta Devine, Gabriel Iglesias, Michael McElhatton, Bill Nighy

The Minions have a lot to answer for. After their breakout appearance in 2010's Despicable Me (not forgetting their enduring popularity in the sequel and their spin-off film), it seems so many animated films have tried replicating their success with additional side characters. Trevor Wall's animated picture is the latest to attempt this, with a trio of annoying lemmings who exist to get abused and deliver fart gags. But that's merely the start of this films problems.

When a greedy real estate developer (Ken Jeong) invades his arctic home with a development project, Norm (Rob Schneider), a polar bear with the ability to speak human, heads to New York with his lemming friends, intent on protecting their home.

Considering how far CG animation has come since the release of Toy Story, it's entirely shocking to see a result as poor as this get a theatrical release. When combined with lax attempts at voice work, which doesn't always sync with the lip movements, and it's not surprising this was originally to be released straight to DVD.

When viewed as a whole, it seems plausible the picture was made without anyone attempting some kind of effort. Be it the story which makes twerking an important plot point, before cramming in a forced environmental message and a cookie cutter "believe in yourself" message which has been done better more times than you can count. The voice work doesn't fare much better, as Rob Schneider is utterly lifeless as a lead you struggle to care about, while Ken Jeong goes over the top to disastrous results.

Whenever a less than stellar animated film is released, "It's for the kids" is often uttered in the films defence. There's nothing wrong with the young ones being entertained, but when the project is so devoid of life, any kind of effort, and carries the brain cells of an average french fry, there's a problem. In an age where animated films don't have to talk down to young viewers, Norm of the North is a relic which attempts the opposite, to disastrous results.