Sunday, 20 March 2016

Review: Norm of the North

World of Blackout Film Review

Norm of the North Poster

Norm of the North
Cert: U / 90 mins / Dir. Trevor Wall / Trailer
WoB Rating: 1/7

If there's one thing worse than the worst film of the year*1, it has to be being made to wait unduly for it, after the prescribed 27 minutes of targeted ads and trailers ended only to be met with a blank screen in a darkened auditorium. Now I spend a lot of time at the flicks (as well you know), so I've got no problem at all being that guy who goes to alert the staff in the foyer to any problems. But this particular no-starter took two further enquiries, four failed attempts and thirty minutes to rectify (although they did rectify it). Now technically, that means not only have I watched an animated film featuring the voice of James Corden, but I also expressly requested one. A special circle of Hell awaits me, no doubt. It's almost as if the film itself, taking three whole months to cross the Atlantic weighed down by its aggregate critic score of 8%, was actually just too embarrassed to show up. Naturally, none of this helped in my anticipation of a film that was frankly only making up the numbers in my Saturday viewing, so if the rest of this review seems a little harsh, it's entirely the fault of the production studio, the distributor and a semi-automated system which occasionally projects films…

So, Rob Schneider (yes that's right, career high-point: 1999's Deuce Bigalow) voices a polar bear who can speak English for reasons which are neither credible nor explained, and stows away to New York when he learns that an Evil Property Developer (voiced by Ken Jeong, letting the industry know that they can stop offering him work now) wants to build luxury condos in the Arctic Circle for Plot Reasons. He does this by starring in the Evil Property Developer's TV ads, which he hopes to ambush as the last, crucial moment (despite having been a significant part of the campaign to make it so successful in the first place). Some of this involves dancing to corporate dance-music, and much of it involves three animated lemmings who are not in any way, shape of form just cheap stand-ins for Minions. I cannot for a single second imagine why this has (albeit finally) hit cinemas a week before Disney's Zootropolis.

Embellishing the distributor's disownership of the movie, we get directionless, noncommittal voice-acting that fails to match (and sometimes fails to sync with) bland, poorly-weighted character models which appear to have been rendered on a PlayStation 2. Even the computer which wrote the screenplay seems to have got bored with the idea and just started hammering out "Something, something, twerking bear; something, something, ice-caps".

Disaster was narrowly averted at two points in the script. The first where the Bill Nighy auto-piloted Socrates the Seagull says the line "'Bread and circuses', your grandfather said. That means it's easier to distract ourselves with food and entertainment than it is to deal with the real problems…", and shortly afterwards where the in-movie TV advert-director*2 wryly quips "Everything can be fixed in post! In one of my movies, I wrote the entire plot in post!". I believe both of these points were supposed to be thought-provoking and incisive. Sadly, in the middle of a Saturday afternoon multiplex playing to a small audience who were already deeply regretting the time, money and energy spent on getting there, this formed an irony-well so dense that the resulting black hole could only by destroyed by my own physics-defying fury at being talked down to by such a poorly animated stereotype.

Norm of the North is a film which both patronises and openly insults not only its core target audience, but also their parents and guardians who've paid for the privilege. The eco-message is so heavy-handed that I began to suspect the film was actually being sarcastic, gleefully willing the end of all life on Earth. A movie like this would certainly make compelling evidence for the prosecution. Rarely has a film been so thoroughly deserving of the 92% penalty it's suffered at the hands of those it's failed to impress.

Had Splash Entertainment managed to gather more funding and secure the rights to Mr Hankey, at least there'd be a logical reason for a cinematic turd of this magnitude...

So, watch this if you enjoyed?
Wishing for humanity's extinction.

Should you watch this in a cinema, though?
Never watch this film in a anything.

Does the film achieve what it sets out to do?
Someone, somewhere is proud to have their name in the credits, I imagine.
Although I also suspect they're in a distinct minority

Is this the best work of the cast or director?
Get out of my house.

Will I think less of you if we disagree about how good/bad this film is?
*looks pointedly over spectacles*.

Yes, but is there a Wilhelm Scream in it?
There isn't.

Yes, but what's the Star Wars connection?
Level 2: Well it pains me to even calculate this, but Bill Nighy devalues his own stock in this film, and has also starred in Love, Actually along with Liam 'Qui-Gon' Neeson, Hot Fuzz with Simon 'Dengar/Unkar Plutt' Pegg, Pirates Of The Caribbean with Keira 'Sabé' Knightley and About Time with Domhnall 'Hux' Gleeson. There are probably more. In fact, it would probably just be easier if we could just get Nighy into Star Wars somehow, wouldn't it? Even in a voice-role?

And if I HAD to put a number on it…

*1 In all fairness, that may not be entirely true. Before this film I saw a trailer for the new Top Cat movie. No, seriously. After the last CGI outing clawed in a massive 15% aggregate approval from critics. This is why we can't have nice things and our children are trying to kill us.

*2 I have no idea what the character is called or who voices him. Only that he's the type of director that only exists in parodic versions of film-sets. Please don't make me look the information up, I've already spent far too much of my life focusing on this...

• ^^^ That's dry, British humour, and most likely sarcasm or facetiousness.
• Yen's blog contains harsh language and even harsher notions of propriety. Reader discretion is advised.
• This is a personal blog. The views and opinions expressed here represent my own thoughts (at the time of writing) and not those of the people, institutions or organisations that I may or may not be related with unless stated explicitly.

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