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Norm of the North
An anthropomorphic polar bear, walking in the city's streets, with three little lemmings over his shoulders and head, with a white t-shirt of "New York" and the film's title, slogan and billing underneath him.
Theatrical release poster
Directed by Trevor Wall
Produced by
  • Nicolas Atlan
  • Ken Katsumoto
  • Steve Rosen
  • Liz Young
  • Mike Young
Written by
  • Daniel R. Altiere
  • Steven M. Altiere
  • Malcolm T. Goldman
Starring
Music by Stephen McKeon
Editing by Richard Finn
Studio
  • Assemblage Entertainment
  • Splash Entertainment
  • Telegael
Distributed by Lionsgate
Release date(s) January 15, 2016 (2016-01-15) (United States)
March 18, 2016 (2016-03-18) (Ireland)
Running time 88 minutes
Country United States
India
Ireland
Language English
Budget $18 million
Money made $30.5 million

Norm of the North is a 2016 computer-animated environmentalist comedy adventure film directed by Trevor Wall and written by Daniel R. Altiere, Steven M. Altiere, and Malcolm T. Goldman. It features the voices of Rob Schneider, Heather Graham, Ken Jeong, Colm Meaney, Loretta Devine, Gabriel Iglesias, Michael McElhatton, and Bill Nighy, and is an international co-production of the United States, India, and Ireland. The UK version of the film features the voice of James Corden instead of Michael McElhatton. It was produced by Assemblage Entertainment, Splash Entertainment and Telegael, and distributed by Lionsgate.

The film was theatrically released on January 15, 2016, and grossed $30 million on an $18 million budget. Norm of the North was panned by critics and audiences for its animation, plot, characters, writing, voice acting and humor. It temporarily held a rating of 0% (at 7% as of March 2021) on the review aggregation website Rotten Tomatoes. There are three direct-to-DVD sequels: Norm of the North: Keys to the Kingdom, released February 12, 2019; Norm of the North: King Sized Adventure, released June 11, 2019; and Norm of the North: Family Vacation, released February 25, 2020.

Plot

Norm the polar bear is the son of the King of the Arctic. In his youth, he discovers that he has the ability to speak to humans, a trait shared only by his grandfather. Because of this, he is made an outcast from the other animals, only being accepted by Socrates, a wise seagull, and Elizabeth, a female polar bear whom Norm is in love with.

Years later, Norm's grandfather has disappeared and human tourists are filling the Arctic. Socrates shows Norm and three Arctic lemmings a luxury condo that has been installed on the ice. Inside this condo is Vera, a representative for wealthy developer Mr. Greene. After Norm saves Vera from an avalanche, Mr. Greene tells her to find an actor to play a polar bear for their campaign. Socrates convinces Norm and the lemmings to stow away on a ship to New York City.

In the city, Norm, pretending to be an actor dressed as a bear, auditions for Mr. Greene's commercial and is taken to dinner by Vera. Greene, who realizes that Norm is a real bear, suspects that Norm has come to free his grandfather, whom Greene has captured. During a public incident involving Greene trying to shoot Norm with a tranquilizer gun in the restaurant, Norm subdues Greene, gaining the attention of the media and heightening Greene's approval ratings. Greene decides to hire Norm as his mascot.

Before going on a television show, Norm meets Vera's daughter Olympia, who tells Norm to raise Greene's approval ratings and then speak out against him to save the Arctic. Norm's popularity heightens the approval ratings, but Greene sabotages Norm's plan by playing recorded dialogue stating that Norm supports Greene's developments.

Defeated, Norm is comforted by Vera and Olympia, who reveals that Greene is developing more homes to install in the Arctic. Norm and the lemmings discover that Greene is bribing a high-ranking member of the Polar Council, and exposes this to Pablo, one of Greene's investors. Vera resigns her position and is hired by Pablo, while Norm and the lemmings chase the truck holding the houses.

Greene sends another truck carrying Norm's grandfather, and Norm is captured as well. After being freed by the lemmings, Norm and his grandfather get to the boat carrying the houses to the Arctic, and they are able to detach the houses. However, Norm is separated from his grandfather.

Norm awakens in the Arctic and is reunited with the lemmings and the other animals. Because of his heroism, Norm is crowned the King of the Arctic, but not before his grandfather arrives. Meanwhile, Mr. Greene is humiliated after his plan is exposed, and Vera and Olympia are happy with Pablo as their new boss, while Norm and Elizabeth have three cubs together.

Cast and characters

  • Rob Schneider as Norm. Ken Katsumoto stated that the film's writing and production team wanted Norm to be like Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer; much like how Rudolph perceived his red nose as a disadvantage for him but later helped Santa a lot, Norm sees his ability to communicate with humans as a negative, but it later ultimately saves the Arctic from Mr. Greene. As Lionsgate's press release, Schneider was cast by the producers for the role of Norm due to his "vocal warmth and spot-on comedic instincts." As Katsumoto explained, “We immediately fell in love with Rob’s voice,” Katsumoto says. “His vocal dexterity was amazing. He also did a great job of embellishing lines to make them funnier. Many of those ad libs made it into the film.” As Schneider himself described Norm, "I always play the guy you can laugh at and say, ‘My life’s not that great, but look at that guy!’ I think in this movie, other bears look at Norm that way. No one takes him seriously, but he follows his heart and it ends up saving their home. It’s fun to play somebody who tries to achieve something big and ends up getting rewarded because he’s not doing it for himself. That’s a nice lesson for kids.”
  • The voice actors for the lemmings are not credited in the film. As Nicolas Atlan described the lemmings, “We thought it would be hysterical to combine Norm, the largest creature in the Arctic, with lemmings that are small and indestructible. They can get squashed, they can get stomped on, they can have an elevator close on them, but like Silly Putty, they bounce right back into their original shape."
  • Ken Jeong as Mr. Greene. Jeong voiced Mr. Greene because he wanted to show his twin daughters a film that he starred in: "Most of the movies I do I can’t show my kids yet. With Norm of the North, they’ll finally be able to watch one of Daddy’s movies. That was kind of a big incentive for me to be part of this project.” As Katsumoto explained why Jeong was chosen for the role, "We fell in love with the fact that Ken can be villainous and likable at the same time. He’s got incredible comic timing and spontaneity. Ken also has a lot of great subtext in his voice. Some people at advance screenings of the movie have cited Mr. Greene as their favorite character. That’s rare for a villain.” As Jeong described Mr. Greene "Mr. Greene is a 50-year-old billionaire with a ponytail, and that’s pretty much all you need to know. He’s this misguided person who starts out with good intentions. He loves to meditate. He tries to incorporate these New Age concepts into his thinking until things go horribly awry."
  • Heather Graham as Vera Brightly. The producers listened through numerous actress auditions for the part of Vera, looking for, in Katsumoto's words, a performance that was "fierce but sensitive at the same time."
  • Maya Kay as Olympia Brightly. Kay previously did voice acting for another animated film by Lionsgate, Alpha and Omega (2010). Kay said that she enjoyed voicing the character and working with Graham: "I was super excited to have Heather Graham play my mom – just like Vera, she’s one of the sweetest people you’ll ever meet." She also explained, "It was really awesome to play somebody so smart, with good intentions to help Norm save his home."
  • Colm Meaney as Grandfather
  • Bill Nighy as Socrates
  • Loretta Devine as Tamecia
  • Michael McElhatton (US) and James Corden (UK) as Laurence
  • Gabriel Iglesias as Pablo and Stan
  • Salome Jens as Councilwoman Klubeck
  • Charlie Adler as Forebear
  • G.K. Bowes as Female Tourist
  • Debi Derryberry as Daughter
  • Ben Diskin as Chef Kozawa
  • Keith Ferguson as Human Tourist
  • Dan Gordon as Nigel, Henchman #1, PA
  • Jess Harnell as Male Tourist
  • Kate Higgins as Elizabeth
  • Mikey Kelley as Henchman #2
  • Rove McManus as Junior Investor
  • Emily Polydoros as Bratty Girl
  • Eric Price as Caribou #1, Caribou #2
  • Nick Shakoour as Costumed Bear
  • Max Spitz as Teen Bear #1
  • Janet Varney as Janet
  • Rick D. Wasserman as Henchman #3

Sequels

Prior to the official theatrical release of the film, two 45-minute direct-to-DVD sequels were announced, titled Norm of the North: Back to the City and Norm of the North: The Arctic All-Stars.

On January 22, 2018, it was announced that production on a sequel produced by Assemblage Entertainment, along with Splash Entertainment, Lionsgate and DFG Family, had begun. The resulting film, Norm of the North: Keys to the Kingdom, was given a limited theatrical release on January 11, 2019, with a home release on February 12, 2019.

In 2019, two more sequels were announced, Norm of the North: King Sized Adventure and Norm of the North: Family Vacation. Norm of the North: King Sized Adventure was released on Blu-ray, DVD and digital on June 11, 2019. Norm of the North: Family Vacation was released on DVD, digital and on-demand on February 25, 2020. A fifth Norm movie was in development as of February, 2019.

Maya Kay is the only cast member to return for the sequels, while Norm is voiced by Andrew Toth.

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