'Norm of the North: Keys to the Kingdom' (2019) Movie Review
I am writing this review the next day after viewing Norm of the North: Keys to the Kingdom… the original plan that I had concocted was to type this up immediately after watching the movie, thinking that if this sequel was anything like the first Norm of the North then it will probably anger me enough to go on a rampage. I started the movie, I was certainly irritated, but nothing really on the levels of ‘pissed off’ that I was for the first installment from three years ago. Mainly because it was, more or less, exactly the same crap all over again. Then the halfway point hit and my brain just shut down. Like, legitimately, I think my brain was actively trying to reject the amount of stupid and lazy content that was forcing itself through my corneas. After a while, it were as though I wasn’t even watching the movie anymore, it became a series of images happening in front of me as my mind constantly said “nope” to everything trying to sneak its way in. By the time the credits rolled I was so dumbed down I couldn’t even manage to build up the energy to type a word, let alone an entire critique for frikkin’ Norm of the North 2…
It’s bad. I realize that is the easiest criticism in the world the spew out, but there is no getting around it. It’s just bad. For one, this wasn’t really a movie. This was obviously a couple of pilot episodes that they probably planned for a Norm of the North TV show, then they simply stitched the scripts together to make it a full length picture. Second, everything about this ‘movie’ is lazy. From the laziest of writing to lazy animation. I won’t say that it is the worst animation I’ve ever seen since I’ve seen movies like Food Fight and last year’s The Boxcar Children: Surprise Island, but it still has zero effort put into any of it. It’s laughably subpar to anything that should ever be theatrically released. That’s another thing, Lionsgate, stop releasing this direct-to-video schlock into theaters. I don’t care if it was only a limited release in the states, it was still somehow a wide release in foreign markets. That is unbelievable to me that someone actually paid to see this rip-off on the big screen. At least the first one was technically a movie… in the loosest of terms… this one was a bad TV pilot that would be considered terrible by television standards. The first Norm of the North had no business in a theater, and its ‘successor’, even less so.
This will be a first where I have to actually break up the plot synopsis into two halves since it literally has two story lines that split the film itself down the middle.
Plot #1: Some time has passed since the events of the first movie. Norm has grown a family of his own while his father and grandfather I guess kicked the bucket, resulting in him being named king now… this dumbass polar bear that can’t even walk in a straight line without falling on his ass every time, is about to be king… okay. Anyways, turns out that Norm gets a phone call (on a cell phone that he apparently has wedged in his ass all the time) from his teen girl friend (awkward) telling him that he is going to be rewarded the key to New York City. Woo. Woo. So Norm, his son (something or another), and their little minions… I mean lemmings… head off to New York City for the ceremony. As it so happens though, upon Norm’s arrival, some thief has taken on Norm’s appearance as a disguise to rob banks. It’s up to Norm and the gang to catch this mastermind of evil and put an end to his tyranny.
Plot #2: Cut to forty-five minutes into the movie, everything with New York and the robbery plotline is wrapped up. Plot number two takes into effect with how Norm’s brother (I didn’t even remember he had a brother) seems to have given permission to the Russians (they’re called something made-up here, but they’re Russians) to take away the land of the kingdom. It’s up to Norm and the gang, once again, to stop the Russians from taking their home by challenging them to a hockey game… will they win the epic hockey game that holds their lives in the balance? Yes. Spoiler alert? F*ck your spoiler alert, it’s Norm of the North 2. No one gives a sh*t.
My Head Hurts…
Does anyone remember that large abundance of direct-to-video Disney sequels that were released like twenty years ago? Stuff like Beauty and the Beast: The Enchanted Christmas, Cinderella 2: Dreams Come True, or Pocahontas 2: Journey to a New World. Those real cheaply animated flicks made out of like three different episode plots to make “one movie”. That is basically what Norm of the North 2 does. It’s not a true feature length film, it’s a couple of short stories with a major load of padding and obligatory shenanigans crammed in. But when it’s a cheap and lazy sequel to an already cheap and lazy first film, it honestly feels par for the course. Although, I would say that those video Disney sequels were technically better than Norm of the North 2 because at least the animation looked better in those movies. Even though the quality had clearly declined from their predecessors, at least they were hand drawn. They didn’t have the ugly, sometimes creepy, CG effects that made both of these Norm of the North movies look like a studio just farted them out last minute for a quick buck. Disney at least took a few months to animate their crappiest cartoons, whoever made these I would say didn’t even put that much effort into their work. The animators couldn’t even sync the dialog in with the character’s mouth most of the time. Plus, I’m pretty sure there were several moments where objects and character models would phase through one another and it looks terrible.
The animation is constantly moving, there is always some sort of motion present in every single frame. Nothing ever flows naturally or slows down for a second. Characters are moving their whole bodies with every line that they have. Never once remotely sitting still to talk, they always have to move from one position to the next as though the characters have a strange compulsion. Within the span of twenty seconds, a character will have gone through a dozen different poses; and because it is so poorly animated and frequent, it always feels distracting for me. Every scene comes across as condescending, as though the animators are under the impression that if there isn’t always movement in every single frame then the movie will lose the interest of their young audience. The studio’s idea of ‘entertainment’ is to just move stuff around for ninety minutes, like that should be enough to preoccupy the minds of kids. No need to actually put thought and effort into your material, simply keep the characters moving. Treating a child’s intelligence with a modicum of respect by attempting to stimulate their minds with actual comedy or dimensionality is too hard. Just spew out whatever crap you can come up with during your lunch break. Seeing how there are two other sequels on the way this year for Norm of the North, I’m betting that is exactly what they did.
Within Literally Four Seconds of Screen Time.Click thumbnail to view full-size
Story Writing 101
In terms of the story structure, I was actually blind sided by how it splits itself up into two parts because I was watching the first half somewhat confused after a while. For the first thirty minutes, I was rolling my eyes and groaning at the awfulness that was invading my life onscreen. But then I started realizing that this movie was really rushing through a lot of plot points fast. Before I knew it, the entire story was seemingly wrapped up with Norm and his friends figuring out that it was the mayor of New York that was behind the robberies… sure. And they were heading back to their frozen wasteland of a home. In my head I said to myself, “Well that was pretty bad, but it blew by quick. I can’t believe the movie is already ending.” Then the movie kept going, so I got curious and checked the timer for the movie… I wasn’t even halfway through yet. My heart sank. I slumped down in my seat and died. Just died. That is exactly when my brain said, “You’re done. No more stupid for you.” Again, completely zombified. Not even really watching the movie anymore. That experience reminded me of the quote from Donald Pleasence in the original Halloween. I was staring at the television, but I was not seeing the television. Looking past the television, looking at the possibilities that ‘could have been’ if it weren’t for this annoying polar bear and its moronic antics sucking up my precious time on this planet.
This is not how someone writes a film. You don’t simply slap a few episodes of a TV show together in the hopes that’ll make a story. Especially since there are no real connections or overlaying plot threads linking the stories together. It is simply, ‘Norm does this thing. Thing is over. Now Norm goes to do this thing. Now this thing is over. The End’. No, actually try to make a three act structure. Try to write a story with an actual beginning, middle, and end. Or just try. Period. Just try with something. Anything. Kids don’t deserve to be treated like morons. They really don’t. I understand the little ones will probably watch anything you put in front of them, but you could dangle keys in front of their face. I wouldn’t exactly say that was an intelligent or dignified way at entertaining your child. Give them more than this lazy, half-assed, no-thought, nonsense. Kids want a good story with fun action and lovable characters. This is not a good story. There is no real story. Even the two plot lines are only excuses for Norm to fall a whole bunch while the lemmings fart and do minion-like sight gags. There’s sort of a moral thrown into the plots at the last minute; the robbery one has a moral that the writers drop on us out of nowhere I guess trying to teach the lesson that a mature person should always admit to when they are wrong and not to think selfishly. The second one is about being a team player, and again, to not think selfishly. Yeah, those are good morals for kids to learn, but when they're lazily jammed into a bunch of stupid material, it feels like it holds no weight and was only included as an afterthought.
It’s All About the Comedy
The humor really is what makes this and the first one so mind numbingly awful. There isn’t a single funny moment in this whole movie. It is always some stupid pun that the writers took five seconds to come up with or poorly animated and forced physical comedy that amounts to nothing more than the damn bear falling on his ass again or the lemmings farting in their sleep. That is all the ‘hilarity’ that these movies have to offer and it’s terrible. There’s no timing to the comedy here, it’s just the bear abruptly falls. Literally, the only reason Norm’s son knows that the bank robber, from the first segment, isn’t his dad is because he doesn’t fall down a flight of stairs after making his getaway. That is how much this fat, furry f*cker falls down in this thing. It is a defining characteristic of Norm at this point and it is extremely obnoxious to see happen again and again.
Polar Bear Falling Montage.Click thumbnail to view full-size
There was also some really strange pop culture references thrown in out of nowhere in the last thirty minutes of the movie. At first, I thought that maybe it was a coincidence, but then it did it again. And again. And I knew it had to be intentional. However, they are only references that strictly adults would understand. There’s no way a kid would get the reference to the final line of Boogie Nights, “I am a star. I’m a star. I’m a star. I’m a star. I’m a big bright shining star.” Or lines from Rocky IV, “I will crush you” and “ If I can change then you can change, everyone can change”. There’s even a line referencing Bill O’Reilly’s infamous outburst, “We’ll do it live!” It is so random and comes out of nowhere. Sometimes barely pertaining to what is actually going on within the scene. It’s awkward and jarring.
More of the Bizarre and Creepy Imagery.Click thumbnail to view full-size
Don’t Waste Your Life Like Me
Most of the ‘comedy’ and everything else can be described in that way, awkward and jarring. There’s not much in the way of context or thought put into any of the jokes or physical humor. It’s just the writers thinking that kids are stupid so they can put in whatever they want because they believe that families will just eat it up. I hope to God that’s not the case. I hope people see this movie on the shelves and walk away. This isn’t a good way to spend time with the family, if you are a parent that wants to watch a movie with their children, avoid anything with the title Norm of the North. As far as recent children’s flicks go, show them Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse if you haven’t already. That’s a solid one. If that’s too ‘boy-heavy’ for the family’s taste, then check out Paddington 2. That’s a film with hilarious comedy, great morals, and is simply adorable. The same can be said for the first Paddington as well. Mary Poppins Returns was also a sweet and endearing movie that treated its audience with at least some respect while also having fantastic musical numbers. Early Man was another entertaining flick last year from the creators of Wallace and Gromit. That’s likely another to win the family over. There are plenty of options out their for the family or at least for your children. If what I listed isn’t quite right for you or you’ve shown the kids these titles already, there’s still a wide array out there at your disposal. You can find something other than Norm of the North 2. Avoid crap like this, only made to take your money and sh*t in your kid’s brains. Like I said before, show your kids some respect and share the best content that you can with them so they hopefully don’t grow up to make more idiotic content like this. Please. I’m begging you!
Please Watch These Instead.Click thumbnail to view full-size
I could have easily made the joke that Norm of the North: Keys to the Kingdom was so bad that even Rob Schneider said no to this, but this really isn’t all that much worse than the first movie. And he spent about twenty-some years saying yes to Adam Sandler and Happy Gilmore productions. Schneider has proven that he is not above doing this movie. The producers just didn’t write a big enough check this time around for him to put up with it again. That is the only reason why Rob Schneider did not reprise his “iconic” Norm the talking polar bear role.
They Continued the Franchise...
- 'Norm of the North: King Sized Adventure' (2019) A Sickly Movie Review
Norm is a talking polar bear that goes on wacky adventures with his annoying lemming pals, this time he goes to China. There's also a thing about a wedding. Whatever. Doesn't matter.
- 'Norm of the North: Family Vacation' (2020) A Stockholm Syndrome Movie Review
There's another 'Norm of the North' sequel, therefore... I'm going to watch it. Because I'm an idiot. Is this the one that changes my mind though? Will this make me into a believer of the Norm of the North franchise? Will I be saved?! I dunno. Why do
That’s All Folks…
Okay, that’s it. I’m spent. I’ve got nothing more to add to Norm of the Dud 2: Electric Boogaloo… yes, I know that is another easy and exhausted joke. But that was more thoughtfully constructed than anything from what I just saw. So, did you like or dislike my review? Agree or disagree? Is Norm of the North your “jiggy-jam”? … I hate myself for that one. Comment down below and let me know! Anyways, if you so happen to enjoy my review then please do me the favor of sharing this article around the social media world. Thank you so much for reading, have yourselves a polar bear-less day!
© 2019 John Plocar