In the frozen tundra, Norm (voice of Rob Schneider) is a bit of misfit. He can’t even catch his own food: “What good is a bear if he can’t even hunt?” observes one caribou.
Norm gets his chance to prove that he’s worthy of taking his father’s place as King of the Arctic by trying to thwart a luxury condo developer who wants to build tourist havens on polar bear land.
The fast-talking bear heads to New York City, where he meets Mr. Greene (voice of Ken Jeong), his nice assistant Vera (Heather Graham) and Vera’s brainy daughter, Olympia (Maya Kay). His adventure leads him to discover a mystery from his past and his place in the world.
The script is riddled with cliche comedy — “Why don’t you take a picture? It’ll last longer” — and lines that tell viewers exactly what’s happening. While the film is geared toward younger viewers, films such as Minions and The Boxtrolls prove that dialogue doesn’t have to be literal for children to understand what’s going on.
Do we have to spell out every action the amorphous, cutesy lemmings do? At one point, Norm’s mentor, Socrates (voice of Bill Nighy), interprets a lemming action: “He wants you to stomp on him. He wants to prove how tough he is.” Yeah, we got that.
Even the trait that should endear the audience to Norm, his infamous “Arctic Shake,” in which the bear goes into uncontrollable fits of dancing and twerking, becomes unbearable to watch.
In the end, Norm is just your average bear.
Norm of the North
☆☆ (out of five)
Director: Trevor Wall
Cast: Rob Schneider, Heather Graham, Ken Jeong
Rated: PG (mild rude humor, action)
Running time: 86 min.