I love a good bad movie. Nothing’s quite as fun as laughing at bad actors struggle through a bad script with a bad director. These types of movies can be endearing in an “it’s so bad, it’s good” sort of way. But then there are some movies that are so bad that you rot in misery for two hours.
When I first heard about how awful Norm of the North was supposed to be, I figured I’d at least be able to have some fun watching it. Turns out that was easily the worst decision I’ve ever made. Instead of being able to laugh at it, Norm of the North is a disaster that will suck the life out of anyone who comes near it. Running at approximately 90 minutes, it seems about 90 minutes too long.
Produced by Lionsgate, it was originally planned as a straight-to-DVD release; someone was probably, and rightfully, fired for thinking that it was a good idea to actually put it in theaters. The esteemed Rob Schneider voices Norm, a polar bear who doesn’t like to hunt and has the powers of talking to humans and twerking, of all things. When he discovers that businessman Mr. Greene (voiced by Ken Jeong) plans to build homes in the Arctic, Norm travels with three lemmings to New York City where he joins Greene’s marketing assistant to stop Greene’s plans of ruining the Arctic.
If all of that sounds bad, it’s because it is. The entire thing requires every ounce of willpower to sit through, and I wouldn’t wish the punishment of seeing it on anyone.
Released in January, this was truly one of the most pathetic ways to start off the year. It’s hard trying to figure out the worst part of the movie. On the surface, it would seem like the animation is the worst offender. Throughout the film, I wasn’t sure if I was watching something that came out in 2016 or the ’90s. From the ugly characters to the bland settings, the animation is horrendous and looks like no effort was put in; not unlike the rest of the film.
Watching the awkwardly designed characters attempt to move was hard to look at, and I honestly feel sorry for the animators. It’d be hilarious if it weren’t so sad seeing someone’s work look this awful. They somehow managed to make the first Toy Story look like groundbreaking animation in comparison. Supposedly $18 million went into making Norm of the North, but it’s hard to imagine anything more than $18 went toward animation.
While the animation is no doubt one of the worst things ever, it’s arguably not even the worst thing in the film. Though obviously made for kids, Norm of the North takes juvenile “jokes” way too far for any reasonable person’s tastes. If you’re a fan of fart jokes, childish jokes that not even little kids would find amusing or if you’re a masochist, then this is the film for you. But if you’re an actual person that has some dignity and standards, please don’t be like me and subject yourself to this mess.
If there is a worst thing about this film, it’s without a doubt the lemmings — the film’s main weapon for childish jokes and inflicting pain on the viewer. Clearly inspired from, or trying to cash in on, the Minions from Despicable Me, Lionsgate did the impossible and created something more obnoxious than the Minions. The lemmings are at the center of everything wrong in the film. Fart jokes? They’re good at that. Peeing in an aquarium? They do that more than once. Even the most easily entertained child would be looking for a way out of watching this train wreck. Whenever the lemmings are on the screen, you can be sure that something completely not funny is about to go down.
The thing that angers me the most about the film is that it assumes that children are incapable of being entertained by anything other than fart jokes and pandering to the lowest common denominator. If I were a child, I’d be beyond offended; kids have more intelligence than Lionsgate gives them credit for.
While I’ve heard people say that Norm of the North shouldn’t be judged harshly because it was made for children, I don’t get that line of reasoning. There have been many children’s movies that are well-animated with good humor and a good story. The Lion King and Toy Story are films that are both well-made and able to appeal to kids. Even now, something like Inside Out isn’t totally hollow and is able to be enjoyed by kids. Somehow, I don’t get the feeling that a child 30 years from now is going to look back and think, “Wow, Norm of the North really defined my childhood.”
Predictably, the plot and characters of the film aren’t much better than anything else. The fact that Mr. Greene wants to build homes in the Arctic of all places is something that actually makes the most sense compared to the rest of the plot. Characters like Norm’s grandpa, who is barely referred to at the beginning, are randomly thrown into the story, making the progression of the plot disjointed and awkward. Somehow, Rob Schneider happened to be the least worst thing, signaling that something has gone very wrong with this film.
If Lionsgate’s plan was to create a contender for the worst movie ever made, then congrats to them; I’d be impressed. They worked hard at that title and earned it.
Watching Norm of the North is an ordeal. It took me all of my energy to not run away from this catastrophe, but I definitely should’ve. Those are 90 minutes of my life I’ll never get back. The only thing I can say about the good points of Norm of the North is that they remind me of my girlfriend: neither exist.