Norm of the North: Family Vacation

Movie review by
Renee Schonfeld, Common Sense Media
Norm of the North: Family Vacation Movie Poster Image
Another Arctic adventure with polar bear family; some peril.
  • NR
  • 2020
  • 88 minutes

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A lot or a little?

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

Educational Value

Meant to entertain rather than educate.

Positive Messages

Strongly advocates balance in life: time for work/duty, time for family. Emphasizes teamwork, loyalty, responsibility, honesty. 

Positive Role Models & Representations

Two parental figures learn important lessons about a "life in balance," not neglecting family or duties to others, but managing to make both work. Families acknowledge value of team -- working together to meet goals and provide nurturing.

Violence & Scariness

Cartoon pratfalls and mild suspense. A torpedo doesn't reach its target; a storm engulfs the heroes in a lengthy sequence with a giant wave overtaking them; a snowball attack; characters are trapped and held captive. 

Sexy Stuff

"Heinie," "poopy-pants."


The fourth movie in the Norm of the North franchise.

Drinking, Drugs & Smoking

What parents need to know

Parents need to know that Norm of the North: Family Vacation is the fourth movie released in this direct-to-DVD and streaming franchise. Polar bear Norm is the "King of the North" and has the crown to prove it. He reigns over all the creatures in his Arctic domain. In this story, Norm must learn to balance being a king and being a dad. His wife and three kids are ready to teach him. Some of the earlier "Norm" entries have been marked by potty humor; in this movie that element has been toned down, and only "heinie" and "poopie pants" are heard. The action and suspense are relatively mild: no one is hurt or injured. Characters survive a raging thunderstorm while on a boat made of ice. They're also targets of a torpedo that misses; they're captured and held hostage; and attacked by frozen snowballs launched from ice weapons. Though the cartoon violence is mostly mild and silly, there's a caution for those kids who are not yet comfortable with real versus pretend action.

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What's the story?

Norm (Andrew Toth) is dealing with his very impatient family in NORM OF THE NORTH: FAMILY VACATION. His wife and three kids feel neglected by all the time Norm spends on the job. It's even worse at the moment. It isn't that he doesn't want to take his family on vacation as he's promised, it's just that the kingdom's annual Jubilee is only a short time away. There are preparations to be made. It's the most important festival of the year. At one historic moment, Norm will make his traditional climb to the top of the kingdom tower, place his crown on it, and guarantee everyone peace and abundance for the next year. If he fails, the kingdom will face a never-ending dark winter. When a masked intruder comes into Norm's home in the middle of the night and steals his crown, Norm is terrified. Seeing the villain escape on a boat, Norm knows the kingdom depends on his getting his crown back in time for the Jubilee. He must follow the culprit and retrieve his crown, no matter the cost. And, if his family accidentally believes that Norm's journey is really a surprise vacation for them, well, he'll just have to make that work, too.

Is it any good?

A tad better than the first three movies in the series is faint praise, but some of the jokes, characters, and silly action do work better this time around. Unfortunately, Norm of the North: Family Vacation still suffers from undistinguished animation, a routine story, and some truly thoughtless choices (a killer whale opting to sing "I'm a Little Teapot" for his musical number -- it doesn't get more uninspired and low-cost than that). The central story line has "villains" that make absolutely no sense, could never carry out their misdeeds as the characters are drawn, and when revealed suffer no consequences for their behavior. It's disappointing, because the franchise's fifth "adventure" is already in production, so the filmmakers have found a fan base. They simply need to respect their young audiences and give them something worthwhile.

Talk to your kids about ...

  • Families can talk about the violence in Norm of the North: Family Vacation. Why is important for little kids, and especially sensitive ones, to understand the difference between real and cartoon scares before watching a movie like this one? How does your family decide what's age-appropriate? What's the impact of media violence on kids?

  • Many movies use a "ticking clock" plot device. In film terms, a "ticking clock" puts a time restraint (or deadline) on the characters' task. What's the "ticking clock" is this story?

  • The movie says that "A crown is not just a symbol, it's a responsibility." What does this statement mean to you? What other symbols can you think of that apply (i.e., a gavel, a badge)?

Movie details

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Themes & Topics

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