NORM OF THE NORTH — Review by Susan Granger

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Riffing on the animated popularity of “Ice Age” and “Frozen,” this CGI tale introduces an amiable, appealing, English-speaking polar bear named Norm (voiced by Rob Schneider) who dances the Arctic Shake. After his King of the North grandfather (voiced by Colm Meaney) disappears, greedy Mr. Greene (voiced by Ken Jeong), an unscrupulous real estate developer, decides to airlift pre-fab condos, turning their pristine wilderness into a tourist attraction. Read more…

So Norm stows away on a boat to New York City, where he pretends to be an actor in a bear costume in order to infiltrate Mr. Greene’s nefarious operation in order to stop him.

That’s where he crosses paths with Vera Brightley (voiced by Heather Graham), Greene’s marketing executive who’s eager to get her savvy daughter Olympia (voiced by Maya Kaye) into a better school. Lifting the concept of sidekicks like Minions, Norm is accompanied by three flatulent lemmings.

Scripted by Daniel & Steven Altiere and Malcolm Goldman, directed by Trevor Wall, the shoddy slapstick is not only derivative but formulaic. The characters are weakly developed and the animation is remarkably cheesy, particularly when compared with Pixar and Disney. The only bright spot comes from quips emanating from the seagull Socrates (voiced by Bill Nighy).

FYI: originally developed as a direct-to-DVD release, it somehow found its way into theaters, perhaps because of its perfunctory environmental message about the dangers of climate change.

On the Granger Movie Gauge of 1 to 10, “Norm of the North” is a stale, trivial 3; it’s a charmless, blandly boring 93 minute interlude.

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Susan Granger

Susan Granger is a product of Hollywood. Her natural father, S. Sylvan Simon, was a director and producer at R.K.O., M.G.M. and Columbia Pictures; her adoptive father, Armand Deutsch, produced movies at M.G.M. As a child, Susan appeared in movies with Abbott & Costello, Red Skelton, Lucille Ball, Margaret O'Brien and Lassie. She attended Mills College in California, studying journalism with Pierre Salinger, and graduated from the University of Pennsylvania with highest honors in journalism. During her adult life, Susan has been on radio and television as an anchorwoman and movie/drama critic. Her newspaper reviews have been syndicated around the world, and she has appeared on American Movie Classics cable television. In addition, her celebrity interviews and articles have been published in REDBOOK, PLAYBOY, FAMILY CIRCLE, COSMOPOLITAN, WORKING WOMAN and THE NEW YORK TIMES, as well as in PARIS MATCH, ELLE, HELLO, CARIBBEAN WORLD, ISLAND LIFE, MACO DESTINATIONS, NEWS LIMITED NEWSPAPERS (Australia), UK DAILY MAIL, UK SUNDAY MIRROR, DS (France), LA REPUBBLICA (Italy), BUNTE (Germany), VIP TRAVELLER (Krisworld) and many other international publications through SSG Syndicate. Susan also lectures on the "Magic and Mythology of Hollywood" and "Don't Take It Personally: Conquering Criticism and other Survival Skills," originally published on tape by Dove Audio.