You may have seen the “Norm of the North” commercials with the polar bear who sings and dances. You may be wondering if this is a decent film to take your children to.
Yes, it’s a fairly clean and entertaining movie, with a positive message about being loyal to your family, standing up for what’s right and the importance of grandparents. The plot is somewhat trite and unoriginal, but it will probably fly over the heads of most youngsters.
I attended an advance media screening with my friend, Judy Ellen, and her 5-year-old granddaughter. We enjoyed the film and the 5-year-old girl laughed and nodded her head along with the polar bear’s singing and dancing.
There’s a character in the film named Olympia (voiced by Maya Kay) that little girls will relate to. Olympia wears eyeglasses and attends a school for geniuses. She lives with her mom, who is the marketing assistant for the villain in the movie. The film gives a positive portrayal of working moms, and living in a single parent household. Olympia’s mom, Vera (voiced by Heather Graham), is depicted as a good person working for a bad man. She doesn’t realize that her boss has ulterior motives.
The villain in the film is Mr. Greene (voiced by Ken Jeong), who provides comic relief with his long black hair, pony tail, skinny jeans, disco shirt and beaded necklace. Mr. Greene loves yoga, chanting oms and meditation. The irony is that Mr. Greene isn’t all that peace-loving. He’s greedy and cares more about making money than anything else.
As a parent, I give this film my thumbs up. The animation and music is fun and fast-paced. The characters are cute and cuddly. The only drawback is that the plot is something that’s been done millions of times before. A greedy real estate developer wants to build homes in the Arctic. It’s a moneymaking deal but (gasp!) the animals will lose their natural habitat. The beautiful Arctic will be landscaped and commercialized, which does not sit well with Norm the polar bear (voiced by Rob Schneider) and his sidekick, Socrates the seagull (voiced by Bill Nighy).
The plot may be a tried and tested formula but now it seems trite and irritating. Of course, young children probably won’t mind. What really matters is that Norm is “a bear with too much care, and not enough scare.” Yes, that’s how Norm describes himself and that pretty much sums things up. The plot is just something to keep the ball rolling.
The movie also features lemmings, which are small rodents that exist in real life in the Arctic, along with meerkats. The lemmings crank up the slapstick factor without speaking a word. They are stomped on, squished and flattened but they bounce back like rubber bands. Despite all their misadventures, the lemmings help Norm the polar bear achieve his mission.
Also noteworthy is Norm’s grandfather, the former king of the Arctic, voiced by actor Colm Meaney, who is best known as Chief O’Brien in “Star Trek: Deep Space Nine.” Norm’s grandfather is a warm and loving polar bear who plays an important role in his life. Grandfather’s presence underscores the extended family relationships that add dimension to Norm’s journey.
Ultimately, the film contends that family is what really matters in life. “Norm of the North” is an inter-generations story that includes a mother, father, brother, children and grandparents. Bottom line: Home is where the heart is.