It’s disappointing that Norm of the North had a great opportunity to contribute to children’s understanding of climate change and its consequences; instead, it presents a simplistic and rather self-serving argument about preserving the Arctic and why humans should be concerned about it. By focusing entirely on saving a few polar bears’ home, no mention is made of the Arctic’s importance to all animal and human kind. It implies that if we can just keep the real estate moguls out of it, the area will remain pristine, e.g., no mention is made of global warming or the effects of cargo ships sailing through the melted ice.
Dramatic elements are quite silly; it’s one thing to be fanciful and another to plug in whatever comes to mind without regard for cohesion or logical transitions. Norm (Schneider) is a gentle bear who is next in line to be king of the Arctic, but he is awkward and a poor hunter. He is shown to have too soft a heart to kill his prey and is ridiculed by all the other animals. Instead, he likes to dance, as in a real human dance, which is one of the endless anthropomorphic twists that are thematic throughout the story.
Norm ends up in New York City, and his path crosses that of Vera (Graham) who works for Mr. Greene, a crooked and really evil real estate developer with plans to build houses “that no one needs” up in the Arctic. Vera makes friends with Norm (and the three unexplained lemmings accompanying him) and introduces him to her genius daughter. Intrigue sets in when Greene’s evil intentions begin to surface, and is further complicated by the need to rescue Norm’s grandfather who has been missing for a long time.
There is no cohesive story here and nothing to indicate how Norm matures and becomes a true hero. It all seems to happen randomly and magically. It does move along much like a cartoon strip, but without the cleverness and humor that usually goes with comics. Humor is mostly of the hackneyed pratfall, farting and urinating variety.
If you asked children who saw this movie what it is about, I doubt they could tell you.