Tuesday, August 1, 2017

Norm of the North

Year 9, Day 213 - 8/1/17 - Movie #2,702

BEFORE: There were so many repeat actors in the Adam Sandler 5-film chain, that in a way it was also a Rob Schneider chain - which is a great opportunity to cross this film off the list, since he stars as the voice of the lead polar bear character.  I recorded this one off cable, basically to fill up the DVD with "The Penguins of Madagascar" and the latest "Ice Age" movie on it.  I know it's probably not the best film, but it's been floating in the "unlinkables" territory for a while now, and now it provides a handy link between the Adam Sandler movies and the documentary "Geek Week" chain, which will start tomorrow.

THE PLOT: When a real estate development invades his Arctic home, Norm and his three lemming friends head to New York City, where Norm becomes the mascot of the corporation in an attempt to bring it down from the inside and protect his homeland.

AFTER: Boy, what a stinker of an animated film this one is.  Maybe it's because I snuck out tonight and watched a different animated film in the theater, and that was a (slightly) better film in most ways.  The first obvious thought, when presented with a film about a polar bear, would be to think that this is going to relate somehow to global warning, and the loss of that species' feeding environment as the polar ice-cap gradually melts.  And if that's what you thought, you'd be completely wrong.  What a horrible missed opportunity, there was a chance to make a film that would explain looming climate change to young kids, and get them on board with realizing the gravity of that situation - but no, instead Norm the polar bear has to worry about people building condominium developments in the Arctic region - when that isn't even a real thing, as far as I know.

Who the hell wants to live in the Arctic (or as half of the actors in this film mispronounced it - "the Artic") anyway?  I live in New York City, and even though we're down to only about two large snowfalls per year now, I still think that's too much.  But then again, I'm eagerly awaiting the day when New York's weather is more like what Florida's used to be, I even live at the top of a hill so that maybe I'll still be OK when the ocean levels rise.  My point is, there's a reason why I live where I do, and if I moved up to Canada, even to get away from Trump and most annoying New Yorkers, then I'd have to deal with winter weather 9 months out of the year.  I prefer different seasons, and I'm thinking that most people wouldn't even buy a home in the Arctic, even if it were just a summer home.

To make matters worse, the whole "talking animal" thing is dealt with horribly here - for some reason it made some cartoon sense for the animals in "Zootopia" and "The Secret Life of Pets" to talk to each other in English, or for the animals in "The Jungle Book" to communicate with Mowgli.  But here Norm is the ONLY polar bear that speaks and understands English, though they never explain how that is possible - or why people don't run screaming from the room when a polar bear talks to them.  Is this some kind of genetic mutation, or did Norm get hit by lightning or something?  Again, I realize this is set in a cartoon universe, and the physical rules might be different than our own, but it seems odd to have just ONE animal that can speak English, especially since that animal can talk to the other animals, but none of those other animals can talk to humans.  Or am I overthinking this?

Then we come to the plan, which doesn't work either.  Norm is somehow going to prevent these Arctic condos from being built by pretending to be an actor in a polar bear suit, since there happen to be auditions for exactly this thing going on - what a coincidence!  And then from the inside he's going to take down the developers - "use the Arctic to save the Arctic", he keeps saying.  But in order to get himself in a position to affect the most change, he's got to become a popular character with an 85% (for some reason) approval rating.  So first he's got to help the corporation, in order to be in a position to then take the corporation down.  This is a bit like planning a bank robbery by getting a job as the bank's manager.  Sure, it might make the heist easier, but then there won't be any mystery over who stole the money, because they'll have the bank manager on camera, loading up the bag with money.

Sorry, any way you look at this one, it's a fail.  It's not funny, nor is it entertaining, and the story is just a lot of nonsense.  The one redeeming thing I can say is that it had lemming characters, which functioned more or less like the Minions in "Despicable Me", and at no time did they fall back on that silly urban legend about lemmings committing suicide en masse.  But the rest of it all feels like it was assembled by committee members that didn't get along with each other.

For my purposes, it's an odd coincidence that both yesterday's film, "Sandy Wexler" and this one both featured the Aurora Borealis (Northern Lights) but I don't think that means much - I'm probably the only person in the world that would watch these two films back-to-back.  Reportedly Adam Sandler might have done a voice for this film too, perhaps as the henchmen in the helicopter, but I can't seem to verify that.  Wow, that's a first, a film that even Adam Sandler is apparently too embarrassed to confirm that he appears in.

Also starring the voices of Heather Graham (last seen in "Bobby"), Ken Jeong (last heard in "The Penguins of Madagascar"), Bill Nighy (last seen in "The Second Best Exotic Marigold Hotel"), Colm Meaney (last seen in "Layer Cake"), Loretta Devine (last seen in "What Women Want"), Gabriel Iglesias (last heard in "The Book of Life"), Michael McElhatton, Salome Jens, Maya Kay (last heard in "Alpha and Omega"), Ben Diskin, Debi Derryberry (last heard in "Despicable Me 2"), Jess Harnell (last heard in "The Secret Life of Pets"), Charlie Adler, with a cameo from James Corden (last seen in "Into the Woods").

RATING: 1 out of 10 plates of sushi

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