A Lot or a Little?
What you will—and won't—find in this movie.
Meant to entertain rather than educate, though kids may pick up a bit about environmental causes.
Supports environmental themes like preserving animal habitats (i.e. the Arctic for polar bears, sea lions, seals, and lemmings). Depicts the hypocrisy of businesses that purport to be "green" but really care more about profit than conservation. Parent-child relationships and closeness are also encouraged in the story, as are inter-generational relationships between grandparents and grandchildren.
Positive Role Models
Norm's grandpa is encouraging and kind and wants Norm to live up this potential. Norm is sweet and brave, even though he's not what his brother and family expect him to be. Olympia is very intelligent and wise; she helps Norm come up with a plan to save his home. Vera is a self-sacrificing mother who wants to give Olympia the best future possible. Elizabeth encourages Norm to think for himself and come up with a way to use his gift of communicating with humans to defend their territory. On the other hand, there's some stereotyping: Someone asks Norm, "Can you come out?," and he steps out wearing a flashy, sequined costume and replies "I think I just did."
Violence & Scariness
Norm tries to hunt seals, but he can't. Men shoot polar bears with dart guns, knocking the bears out. In one scene it looks like a polar bear has drowned. A man is shot with a dart gun in a humorous fashion. A whale eats a seal when told to "keep it real" during a performance for human tourists visiting the Arctic. Lots of slapstick involving the lemmings, who don't seem to have bones and can bounce back from any sort of fall or injury.
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Sex, Romance & Nudity
Norm has a crush on Elizabeth and tries to flirt with her. They make eyes at each other and eventually are shown with cubs, having clearly become mates.
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Not technically language, but lots of potty humor involving farts, pee, and poop.
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Products & Purchases
Greene says he plans to build a Volvo dealership in the new Arctic real-estate development.
Drinking, Drugs & Smoking
An actor jokes that he smells like "macaroni and sweet vermouth." Later, the actor plays the piano and sips from cocktail glasses with umbrellas (but what's in the drinks is never made explicit).
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Parents Need to Know
Parents need to know that Norm of the North is an animated adventure about a polar bear, Norm (voiced by Rob Schneider), who can communicate with humans -- and so travels to New York to convince people not to build a proposed real-estate development in his Arctic home. Families familiar with movies like Happy Feet and Hoot will know right away to expect clear environmental themes ... as well as lots of crude potty jokes to make kids laugh. In addition to the gratuitous bathroom humor, which may bother some parents, there's also plenty of slapstick humor, a little bit of innuendo, a stereotypical joke based on the phrase "coming out," some potentially frightening sequences involving a tranquilizer gun, and an apparent death. To stay in the loop on more movies like this, you can sign up for weekly Family Movie Night emails.
Is It Any Good?
Families are better off skipping this underwhelming, potty-humor-filled mess and re-watching better eco-friendly themed films like Happy Feet and Hoot. Norm means well, of course, and there's nothing truly awful about it, but it's definitely one to stream or rent at home rather than pay full fare to see. Sadly, no amount of conservation messaging can outweigh the forgettable and dated animation, sub-par writing, and lowbrow humor (really, does anyone need to see lemmings peeing into a fish tank for that many seconds?).
One of the movie's most egregious problems is its generic use of New York. Although there's a shot of the Brooklyn Bridge and a couple of Times Square, it otherwise might as well have been set basically anywhere. Unlike Madagascar or Bee Movie, Norm doesn't mention real places or highlight well-known landmarks, giving no sense of setting other than a generic "insert skyscrapers and outdated yellow taxis" urban landscape. All of that said, the voice talent is decent, especially Jeong, who makes Greene sound appropriately smarmy as a faux zen developer (fake ponytail and all) capitalizing on the "green" trend -- when all he wants is the green in his pocket.
Did we miss something on diversity?
Research shows a connection between kids' healthy self-esteem and positive portrayals in media. That's why we've added a new "Diverse Representations" section to our reviews that will be rolling out on an ongoing basis. You can help us help kids by suggesting a diversity update.