Richard and CP24 anchor Nneka Elliott talk about Michael Bay’s latest, the action film “13 Hours: The Secret Soldiers of Benghazi,” a buddy cop flick called “Ride Along 2” starring Ice Cube and Kevin Hart and the Edsel of the animation world, “Norm of the North.”
Richard and “Canada AM” host Marci Ien talk about the Michael Bay action film “13 Hours: The Secret Soldiers of Benghazi,” the buddy cop flick “Ride Along 2” with Ice Cube and Kevin Hart and a contender for worst film of the year, “Norm of the North.”
There will be a time in the near future when “Inside Out” and “Norm of the North” will be listed on your Netflix queue as animated films, but make no mistake they don’t belong in the same category. Where “Inside Out” is a happy serving of eye candy topped with a transcendent story, “Norm” seems to exist not as a story but simply as a vessel for cute characters.
Set in the Arctic, where Ivory Gulls speak with English accents, lemmings are indestructible and polar bears twerk (and speak English) for the amusement of tourists, the movie wraps an environmental message for kids human encroachment in the Arctic around a feel-good story that left me feeling bad.
Norm (voice of Rob Schneider) is an insecure polar bear who must remind himself that he has top of the Arctic food chain. “You’re an animal, “he says, “literally.” He’s timid polar—he’s a “a bear with too much care and not enough scare”—but when an evil New York developer named Mr. Greene (Ken Jeong) plans to build condos in his corner of the arctic he springs into action. Overhearing the builder’s associate Vera (Heather Graham) say she’s looking for a symbol of the arctic who can talk to potential customers, Norm hatches a plan. He stows away to New York City (with three lemming henchmen in tow) to become the Greene’s spokesbear. His idea is to “use the Arctic to save the Arctic.”
“Norm of the North” is as entertaining as you’d think a children’s cartoon starring Deuce Bigalow: Male Gigolo will be. It’s cut rate Saturday morning cartoon level animation—some scenes don’t even look fully rendered—that relies on kid-friendly characters rather than story or jokes. In other words, if “Inside Out” is the Ferrari of kids animation, sleek and well-made, “Norm of the North” is the Edsel.
It assumes children don’t need entertainment that works on any other level than, ”Where can I buy a cute stuffed Norm doll?” Despite its family friendly messages about friends, family and loyalty, the movie doesn’t try and disguise its cynical heart. At the spokesbear audition Vera gushes over Norm, “He’s cute and marketable, it’s perfect.” You can only imagine a similar conversation in the design phase for this movie. Also, is Norm’s description of Mr. Greene as “a creepy one note villain” dialogue from the script or a passage from the stage directions that accidentally made it into the film? It’s hard to know.
“Norm of the North” has little to recommend it. Padded with dance numbers—two in the first fifteen minutes alone—and montages, the best that can be said is that bad movies like this are important to remind us that the Pixar movies aren’t flukes.
The once edgy comics of “Saturday Night Live” have gotten older and a little rounder in the middle but judging by their work in the ironically named “Grown Ups” they haven’t actually grown up.
Adam Sandler, Chris Rock, David Spade, Kevin James and Rob Schneider star in this celebration of arrested adolescence as five friend s reunited at the funeral of the beloved high school basketball coach. All married, except for the childlike Spade, they are at different stages of their lives. Schneider is a new age guru with a much older wife, Rock is a henpecked house husband, Sandler the hottest agent in Hollywood, with the hot wife (Salma Hayek) and James is the fat guy who falls down a lot. Like, a lot a lot. To spread their coach’s ashes they head to a cottage by a lake to spend the weekend, reconnect and endlessly trade good natured jibes. Over the course of the Fourth of July weekend their spoiled kids learn to live without cell phones, the boys play a dangerous game with a bow and arrow and ogle Schneider’s babelicious daughters.
“Grown Ups” isn’t quite rude enough for the Apatow crowd, but yet, not quite family friendly enough for grandma and the kids. For every outrageous joke about breast milk there’s a faux emotive or cutesy kid moment. The one liners come fast and furious—these guys only seem to be able to communicate by busting one another’s chops—but for the first hour there is precious little in the way of real jokes. It’s titter worthy rather than laugh out loud funny.
The guys have good chemistry, which they should, having spent years doing live television together, but it looks like the kind of movie that might have been more fun to make than to watch. These are (mostly) likeable actors but they’re not doing their most likeable work here. Sandler, for instance ruins a funny moment when his daughter says, “I want to get chocolate wasted!” with a snorting reaction that steps on the joke.
In the second hour Sandler is in heart warming mode but even this comes off as false. He spends the whole movie shrugging off his “Mr. Hollywood” nickname, but then in the climax—and I’ll be careful not to give anything away here—acts like a rich city slicker doing the local yokels a favor.
Luckily Sandler regular Steve Buscemi and the mangling of the name of a Canadian city provide some silly laughs.
“Grown Ups” is lowbrow with warm and fuzzy aspirations but misses the mark.