By: Devan Coggan
From Happy Feet to Ice Age, the Arctic has long been fertile ground for animated adventures, and ice obsession peaked in 2013 with Frozen. Norm of the North, which stars Rob Schneider as the titular polar bear, is a completely unnecessary addition to that already lengthy list, cobbled together from the pieces of far more successful (and considerably funnier) films.
As the misfit heir to an Arctic kingdom, Norm spends his days failing to hunt seals and gloomily declaring things like, “Who needs a bear with too much care and not enough scare?” He finds his calling through his unique ability to communicate with humans, which comes in handy when real estate developers roll into town with the hope of turning the Arctic into a subdivision. Single mom Vera (Heather Graham) is heading up the marketing, and whether or not her adorably brainy daughter gets into private school relies entirely on an alumni recommendation from her real estate tycoon boss (Ken Jeong), a caricature of a villain whose only defining features are his passion for his cash and his greasy ponytail.
The animation already looks dated, and it feels as lazy as the bland narrative, which finds Norm traveling to New York City to try stop construction on his home. Norm’s lemming sidekicks, the kind of cuddly, dialogue-free companions who function as blatant Minions ripoffs, feel like a metaphor for the entire movie: there to hopefully launch a franchise first and actually provide some comic relief second.