When Vera (voice of Heather Graham), the marketing director for a billionaire developer, shoots a TV commercial in the Arctic promoting new luxury housing, a polar bear (voice of Rob Schneider, "Deuce Bigalow: Male Gigolo") with the unusual ability to talk to humans decides to take matters into his own paws and travels to New York City. But when everyone assumes he's a man in a suit, the bear finds himself celebrated with flash mobs and talk show appearances as "Norm of the North."
This utterly generic computer animation may be OK for the kids, but adults will find little entertainment in this rehash of old ideas from better movies. It doesn't help that the premise - luxury development in the Arctic - makes little sense given the real environmental dangers facing the region or that the bears are introduced giving 'shows' for eco-tourists.
Norm is 'different,' not only because, like his long lost Grandfather (voice of Colm Meaney, "Alan Partridge"), he can talk to humans, but because he's not a hunter. Challenged to eat a seal, he's undone by its puppy dog eyes (we never do learn what he subsists on). He's 'a bear with too much care and not enough scare.' Worried about what human habitation would mean for his home, Norm goes to his father, the King, who dismisses his concerns but a pretty female convinces him he's thinking forward. With the advice of seagull Socrates (voice of Bill Nighy, "Love, Actually"), Norm partners up with the three lemmings and destroys the commercial shoot and its footage, but Vera catches enough of Norm on her phone to convince boss Mr. Greene (voice of Ken Jeong, "The Hangover") that they should 'use the Arctic to sell the Arctic.' What she doesn't know is that the bear has hitched a ride with her back to the city.
When he aces the audition for the ironically named Greene Homes, Norm plays along, realizing that he needs to get Greene's approval ratings as high as he can before he uses Greene's own platform to speak out against him. He also discovers Greene has Grandfather caged (just why is anybody's guess).
"Norm of the North's" environmental 'message' is so indistinct that the greenest thing about it is its own plot and character recycling (screenplay by Daniel & Steven Altiere ("Beethoven's Christmas Adventure") and Malcolm T. Goldman). Vera has a 'genius' daughter, Olympia (voice of Maya Kay, "Alpha and Omega"), that she doesn't spend enough time with. Norm's three virtually indestructible lemmings are retreads of "Madagascar's" lemurs, except they specialize in pee and fart jokes. The movie even ends with - are you ready? - a dance off.
Celebrity voices add little, the only really recognizable one being Loretta Devine who voices talk show hostess Tamecia. The most amusing vocal performance comes from the least known player, Michael McElhatton ("Albert Nobbs"), as a hammy British actor. Animation is average to uninspired, although some effort has been made with Norm's fur, Socrates' feathers and Greene's elastic movement. Matthew Gerrard's ('High School Musical') original song 'The Arctic Shake' is immediately forgettable.
Robin did not see this film.
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