Reviewed by Colin Jacobson (June 30, 2019)
Back in 2016, Norm of the North earned a decidedly awful $17 million at the box office. Apparently the studio thought that seemed good enough, as the film spawned not one but two direct to video sequels.
For the third iteration in the saga, we head to 2019’s Norm of the North: King Sized Adventure. At the start, polar bear Norm (voiced by Andrew Toth) prepares for his Grandpa’s (Brian Dobson) wedding.
Before this occurs, though, Norm finds himself entangled in intrigue. An archaeologist named Jin (Simon Hayama) reveals that his former partner Dexter (Michael Dobson) wants to steal a priceless Chinese artifact.
Unsurprisingly, Jin prefers to alter this course of events. Along with some pals, Norm helps with this endeavor, all while he operates under pressure to get back to Misty Mountain in time for Grandpa’s nuptials.
Whatever one thought of the original Norm - and I didn’t think much – at least it came with some known talent behind it. If you recognize the names involved with Adventure, you’re probably related to them, as the cast and crew lack any marquee value.
I can’t call that a fatal flaw, though, as a movie doesn’t need established stars to succeed. It does require some form of cleverness or wit or intelligence, though, and Adventure comes short on any of those qualities.
Man, what a cheap-looking affair! The computer animation of Adventure would’ve looked bad 20 years ago, as we get flat, rubbery characters and one-dimensional settings.
In addition, the story becomes nothing more than an excuse for poorly executed gags and action scenes. The overall narrative goes nowhere that a viewer can’t easily predict, and its “keep your word” moral seems tacked on at best.
The voice actors seem adequate and nothing more. I can’t blame them for the film’s shortcomings, as the awful dialogue and thin characters hold back their potential.
That said, none of the performers does anything to elevate the material. They play their roles with reasonable gusto but never manage to add zest to the proceedings.
Despite its flaws, the original film still managed a few moderately entertaining moments. Nothing of the sort arrives via this dull, substandard sequel.
Face it: Adventure enjoys no reason to exist other than as cheap video product. I never thought I’d reflect fondly on the original Norm, but this awful sequel makes it look like a classic.