Lionsgate is a film studio with a handful of successful movie franchises under its belt (The Hunger Games, The Expendables), though the studio has generally not delved into the family film genre. Nor, for that matter, has Lionsgate really touched on animation with the exception of Thomas the Tank Engine releases and The Moshi Monster Movie (2013).
The Shaun the Sheep Movie is perhaps Lionsgate's first big family film release, and it’s done the company well, earning great critical acclaim in the UK ahead of its theatrical debut in the U.S. today (at the time of writing this). Now Lionsgate have unveiled the trailer for its newest animated family-oriented offering, Norm of the North, which you can watch here.
Norm of the North tells the story of polar bear Norm, who travels to New York to try and stop a property developer building condos in the Arctic. The official synopsis for the movie reads as follows:
“A polar bear of many words, Norm's greatest gripe is simple: there is no room for tourists in the Arctic. But when a maniacal developer threatens to build luxury condos in his own backyard, Norm does what all normal polar bears would do...he heads to New York City to stop it. With a cast of ragtag lemmings at his side, Norm takes on the big apple, big business and a big identity crisis to save the day.”
Rob Schneider features as the voice of Norm, with other voice cast including Heather Graham, Ken Jeong, Gabriel Iglesias, Loretta Devine, Michael McElhatton, Colm Meaney and Bill Nighy. Norm of the North is directed by Trevor Wall (Sabrina: Secrets of a Teenage Witch animated TV series), from a script by Jack Donaldson and Derek Elliott.
This is the first major writing credit for both Donaldson and Elliott and while it seems as though Norm of the North is in a similar vein to Dreamwork’s Madagascar films (including the spinoff, Penguins of Madagascar), it still might exercise its own original ideas. Certainly the Lemmings seem appealing to a young audience, as does Norm’s over-exuberance and charm.
Schneider is (surprisingly?) entertaining as Norm in the trailer footage, and manages to capture the loveable goofiness that seems to be a pre-requisite for a central character in such animated films such as these. No doubt, Jeong will also pull in laughs as Mr Greene.
All in all, Norm of the North seems unlikely to set the box office alight, but expect it to do reasonably well with families looking for a fun film for the kids to enjoy during the winter months. The animation isn’t great, when compared with releases from Dreamworks and Pixar, but it does the job. The trailer was very well received by this writer’s kids, at the least.
Norm of the North will be released on January 16, 2016.