Norm of the North

Movie review by
Sandie Angulo Chen, Common Sense Media
Norm of the North Movie Poster Image
Conservation-themed animal tale has lots of potty humor.
  • PG
  • 2016
  • 86 minutes

Parents say

age 8+
Based on 13 reviews

Kids say

age 7+
Based on 20 reviews

A lot or a little?

The parents' guide to what's in this movie.

Educational Value

Meant to entertain rather than educate, though kids may pick up a bit about environmental causes.

Positive Messages

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 & Representations

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.

Sexy Stuff

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. 

Language

Not technically language, but lots of potty humor involving farts, pee, and poop.

Consumerism

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).

What 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.

User Reviews

  • Parents say
  • Kids say
Adult Written byabbacus January 17, 2016

One of the worst kids movies I've ever seen. Don't go!

This movie is atrocious. It was made for a straight to DVD release, which tells you something right off the bat. The animation is horrible - it looks like unfin... Continue reading
Parent of a 4, 7, 9, and 9 year old Written byFowlerFan January 29, 2016

Bad. Very bad.

As the other reviewer accurately noted, this movie is terrible . My kids said it was good, but I cant accept tyat comment . There are no age concerns for bad... Continue reading
Kid, 11 years old January 28, 2016
worst kids movie ever in 2016 to 2015 ever lots of dumb jokes waste of time did't finish the movie so bad
Teen, 17 years old Written byUsername101 November 2, 2016

Amazing, breathtaking, BRILLIANT!

This is an mazing heart warming movie that everyone should see it is amazing.... HIGHLY underrated. Everyone will love this movie the animation is beyond it... Continue reading

What's the story?

NORM OF THE NORTH opens with the titular polar bear's failed attempt at a seal hunt. When he captures the seal instead of eating it, he reveals why he's not a killer: Norm (Rob Schneider) explains that he, like his wise grandpa, the "King of the Arctic" (Colm Meaney), is the rare polar bear gifted with the ability to speak "human." But his grandpa has been missing, and no one knows where he's gone. One day, while lurking on his grandfather's lands, Norm spots a home, which he discovers is a prototype for New York City real estate developer Mr. Greene's (Ken Jeong) proposed luxury-home project. When Norm's family and friends call him crazy for thinking humans would want to move to the Arctic, he and his three lemmings sidekicks sneak on a cargo ship headed back to New York. In Manhattan, the developer's assistant, Vera (Heather Graham), hires Norm (believing him to be an actor in genuine-fur costume) to play the proposed development's spokesperson to help it win public approval. As Norm gains popularity, he struggles with when to reveal his true identity and tell the world not to allow Greene's plan to hurt the Arctic.

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.

Talk to your kids about ...

  • Families can talk about the popularity of talking-animal movies. How is Norm of the North different? Why do you think this one has only two animal characters that can speak to humans?

  • Why do you think so many kids' movies include potty humor? Is that the only way to make children laugh? What's the appeal?

  • Kids: Did any parts of the movie scare you? How much scary stuff can young kids handle?

  • How does Norm compare to the similar film Happy Feet, which is also about an outsider who ends up saving his community's habitat?

  • Does the comedy muddle the movie's message, or is it still obvious?

Movie details

Themes & Topics

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