Norm of the North
|Norm of the North|
Theatrical release poster
|Directed by||Trevor Wall|
|Music by||Stephen McKeon|
|Edited by||Richard Finn|
|Box office||$30.5 million|
Norm of the North is a 2016 American-Indian-Irish computer-animated comedy adventure film directed by Trevor Wall and written by Daniel R. Altiere, Steven M. Altiere, and Malcolm T. Goldman. It features the voices of Rob Schneider, Heather Graham, Ken Jeong, Colm Meaney, Loretta Devine, Gabriel Iglesias, Michael McElhatton, and Bill Nighy. The UK version features the voice of James Corden. It was produced by Assemblage Entertainment, Splash Entertainment and Telegael, and distributed by Lionsgate.
The film was theatrically released on January 15, 2016, and grossed $30 million on an $18 million budget. The film was panned by critics for its animation, plot and humor. It temporarily held a rating of 0% (at 9% as of February 2019) on the review aggregation website Rotten Tomatoes.
Norm the polar bear is the son of the king of the Arctic. In his youth, he develops the ability to speak to humans, a trait shared by his grandfather. Because of this, he is made an outcast from the other animals, only being accepted by Socrates, a wise seagull, and Elizabeth, a female polar bear whom Norm is in love with.
Years later, Norm's grandfather has disappeared and human tourists are filling the Arctic. Socrates shows Norm and three Arctic lemmings a luxury condo that has been installed on the ice. Inside this condo is Vera, a representative for wealthy developer Mr. Greene. After Norm saves Vera from an avalanche, Mr. Greene tells her to find an actor to play a polar bear for their campaign. Socrates convinces Norm and the lemmings to stow away on a ship to New York City.
In the city, Norm, pretending to be an actor dressed as a bear, auditions for Mr. Greene's commercial and is taken to dinner by Vera. Greene, who realizes that Norm is a real bear, suspects that Norm has come to free his grandfather, who Greene has captured. During a public incident involving Greene trying to shoot Norm in the restaurant, Norm subdues Greene, gaining the attention of the media and heightening Greene's approval ratings. Greene decides to hire Norm as his mascot.
Before going on a television show, Norm meets Vera's daughter Olympia, who tells Norm to raise Greene's approval ratings and then speak out against him to save the Arctic. Norm's popularity heightens the approval ratings, but Greene sabotages Norm's plan by playing recorded dialogue stating that Norm supports Greene's developments.
Defeated, Norm is comforted by Vera and Olympia, who reveals that Greene is developing more homes to install in the Arctic. Norm and the lemmings discover that Greene is bribing a high-ranking member of the Polar Council, and exposes this to Pablo, one of Greene's investors. Vera resigns her position and is hired by Pablo, while Norm and the lemmings chase the truck holding the houses.
Greene sends another truck carrying Norm's grandfather, and Norm is captured as well. After being freed by the lemmings, Norm and his grandfather catch up to the boat carrying the houses to the Arctic, and are able to detach the houses. However, Norm is separated from his grandfather and the lemmings, and is knocked unconscious.
Norm awakens in the Arctic and reunited with the lemmings and the other animals, who reveal that his grandfather was not found. Because of his heroism, Norm is crowned the king of the Arctic, before his grandfather arrives at the ceremony. Meanwhile, Mr. Greene is humiliated after his plan is exposed, and Vera and Olympia are happy with Pablo as their new boss, while Norm and Elizabeth have three cubs together.
Cast and characters
- Ken Katsumoto stated that the film's writing and production team wanted Norm to be like Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer; much like how Rudolph perceived his red nose as a disadvantage for him but later helped Santa a lot, Norm sees his ability to communicate with humans as a negative, but it later ultimately saves the Arctic from Mr. Greene. As Lionsgate's press release, Schneider was cast by the producers for the role of Norm due to his "vocal warmth and spot-on comedic instincts." As Katsumoto explained, “We immediately fell in love with Rob’s voice,” Katsumoto says. “His vocal dexterity was amazing. He also did a great job of embellishing lines to make them funnier. Many of those ad libs made it into the film.” As Schneider himself described Norm, "I always play the guy you can laugh at and say, ‘My life’s not that great, but look at that guy!’ I think in this movie, other bears look at Norm that way. No one takes him seriously, but he follows his heart and it ends up saving their home. It’s fun to play somebody who tries to achieve something big and ends up getting rewarded because he’s not doing it for himself. That’s a nice lesson for kids.”
- The voice actors for the lemmings are not credited in the film. As Nicolas Atlan described the lemmings, “We thought it would be hysterical to combine Norm, the largest creature in the Arctic, with lemmings that are small and indestructible. They can get squashed, they can get stomped on, they can have an elevator close on them, but like Silly Putty, they bounce right back into their original shape."
- Ken Jeong as Mr. Greene
- Jeong voiced Mr. Green because he wanted to show his twin daughters a film that he starred in: "Most of the movies I do I can’t show my kids yet. With Norm of the North, they’ll finally be able to watch one of Daddy’s movies. That was kind of a big incentive for me to be part of this project.” As Katsumoto explained why Jeong was chosen for the role, "We fell in love with the fact that Ken can be villainous and likable at the same time. He’s got incredible comic timing and spontaneity. Ken also has a lot of great subtext in his voice. Some people at advance screenings of the movie have cited Mr. Greene as their favorite character. That’s rare for a villain.” As Jeong described Mr. Green "Mr. Greene is a 50-year-old billionaire with a ponytail, and that’s pretty much all you need to know. He’s this misguided person who starts out with good intentions. He loves to meditate. He tries to incorporate these New Age concepts into his thinking until things go horribly awry."
- The producers listened through numerous actress auditions for the part of Vera, looking for, in Katsumoto's words, a performance that was "fierce but sensitive at the same time."
- Maya Kay as Olympia Brightly
- Kay also previously voiced for another animated film by Lionsgate named Alpha and Omega (2010). Kay said that she enjoyed voicing the character and working with Graham: "“I was super excited to have Heather Graham play my mom – just like Vera, she’s one of the sweetest people you’ll ever meet." She also explained, "“It was really awesome to play somebody so smart, with good intentions to help Norm save his home.”
- Colm Meaney as Grandfather
- Bill Nighy as Socrates
- Loretta Devine as Tamecia
- Michael McElhatton (US) and James Corden (UK) as Laurence
- Gabriel Iglesias as Pablo and Stan
- Salome Jens as Councilwoman Klubeck
- Charlie Adler as Forebear
- G.K. Bowes as Female Tourist
- Debi Derryberry as Daughter
- Ben Diskin as Chef Kozawa
- Keith Ferguson as Human Tourist
- Dan Gordon as Nigel, Henchman #1, PA
- Jess Harnell as Male Tourist
- Kate Higgins as Elizabeth
- Mikey Kelley as Henchman #2
- Rove McManus as Junior Investor
- Emily Polydoros as Bratty Girl
- Eric Price as Caribou #1, Caribou 2
- Nick Shakoour as Costumed Bear
- Max Spitz as Teen Bear #1
- Janet Varney as Janet
- Rick D. Wasserman as Henchman #3
Two mobile apps were released to promote the film as well as four clips on Lionsgate's YouTube channel and two theatrical trailers. Television spots played on several channels.
As of August 16, 2016[update], Norm of the North has grossed $17 million in North America and $10.4 million in other territories, for a worldwide total of $27.4 million, against a budget of $18 million.
The film was released on January 15, 2016, alongside 13 Hours: The Secret Soldiers of Benghazi and Ride Along 2. It grossed $9.4 million from 2,411 theaters over its opening four-day Martin Luther King, Jr. weekend, finishing 6th at the box office.
Norm of the North was critically panned. On Rotten Tomatoes, the film currently holds a rating of 9%, based on 67 reviews, with an average rating of 3.1/10. The site's critical consensus read, "A pioneering feat in the field of twerking polar bear animation, but blearily retrograde in every other respect, Norm of the North should only be screened in case of parental emergency." On Metacritic, the film has a score of 21 out of 100, based on 18 critics, indicating "generally unfavorable reviews". On CinemaScore, audiences gave the film an average grade of "B–" on an A+ to F scale.
Critic Mark Dujsik gave the film 1 out of 4 possible stars, writing that "Norm of the North doesn't care about the environment, the animals of the Arctic, or even kids for that matter. It wants to be 'cute and marketable' as cheaply as possible". James White of Empire gave the film 1 out of 5 possible stars, writing that "we wouldn’t recommend you watch it even after you’ve burned through every other possibility – and that includes a blank screen". Mark Kermode of The Observer called the film a "dull ... below-par Ice Age-style tale in which the highlight is a group of vulgar lemmings". Michael Rechtshaffen of The Los Angeles Times called the film "blandly uninspired", and Soren Andersen of The Seattle Times called the film an "idiotic animated comedy", writing that "No child should be exposed to this".
Geoff Berkshire of Variety called the film a "blandly executed pic" that "will quickly head south to an ancillary afterlife". Katie Rife of The A.V. Club gave the film a "D" grade, writing that "this is a movie for children. But using that as a justification for lazy work, as if kids are inherently too dumb to know the difference, isn’t just condescending. In a post-Pixar world, where audiences have become accustomed to quality animated family films, it’s a waste of money". Stephen Schaefer of The Boston Herald gave the film a grade of "B–", writing that, despite being "hardly original ... 'Norm' has oodles of charm, a razor-sharp wit, and pacing that should keep even preschoolers attentive".
The website /Film reported that Norm of the North temporarily had a rating of 0% on Rotten Tomatoes in January 2016, shortly after the film's release; the score was based on 35 reviews at the time, all of which were negative.
Prior to the official theatrical release of the film, two 45-minute direct-to-DVD sequels were announced, titled Norm of the North: Keys to the Kingdom and Norm of the North: The Arctic All-Stars.
On January 22, 2018, it was announced that production on the first sequel had begun. The sequel is being produced by Assemblage Entertainment, along with Splash Entertainment, Lionsgate and DFG Family.
The first trailer for Keys to the Kingdom was released in December 2018.  The film, running 91 minutes, was given a limited theatrical release on January 11, 2019, with a home release on February 12, 2019.
Maya Kay (Olympia) is the only cast member to return for the sequels, while Norm is voiced by Andrew Toth.
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- Mark Kermode (20 March 2016). "Norm of the North review – un-bearably dull animated Arctic saga". The Observer. The Guardian. Retrieved 17 May 2017.
- Michael Rechtshaffen (14 January 2016). "Review 'Norm of the North' ploddingly follows in footsteps of 'Happy Feet'". Los Angeles Times. Retrieved 17 May 2017.
- Soren Andersen (14 January 2016). "'Norm of the North': a nonsensical bear of a comedy". The Seattle Times. Retrieved 17 May 2017.
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- Katie Rife (14 January 2016). "Rob Schneider is somehow the least lazy part of Norm Of The North". The A.V. Club. Retrieved 17 May 2017.
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- Frater, Patrick (2018-01-22). "Lionsgate's 'Norm of the North' Headed for Sequel With Splash, India's Assemblage Entertainment". Variety. Retrieved 2019-01-11.
- Hermanns, Grant (2018-12-18). "Lionsgate Releases Trailer For Norm of the North: Keys to the Kingdom". ComingSoon.net. Retrieved 2019-01-11.
- Norm of the North [@NormoftheNorth] (January 11, 2019). "Get ready to #ShakeYourBearThing all over again. #NormOfTheNorth: Keys To The Kingdom is NOW in Theaters & On Demand! Coming to DVD & Digital 2/12. apple.co/2Fqr3kp" (Tweet). Retrieved January 12, 2019 – via Twitter.
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