Animated polar bear tale aims to teach kids an environmental lesson, but will end up just boring them

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Shoddily animated, cheap looking and witless, “Norm of the North” is a third-rate clunker for the kiddies.

This computer animated polar bear tale aims to impart a message to the next generation about the importance of preserving the Arctic. Good on that. But it does so in the dumbest way possible, illustrating man’s interference with the polar ice caps in a way that defies common sense, even for a children’s film.

Climate change is a difficult issue to explain, especially to a very young child. So “Norm of the North” boils the problem down to its root — man is taking away the homes of polar bears — and presents it in a face-palmingly literal way, with man building condos on glaciers and displacing polar bears from their homes. (Issues of climate, quality of life, etc. are never raised.)

So it’s up to Norm (voiced by Rob Schneider), a clumsy polar bear with no killer instinct or hunting skills, to go to New York City to do battle with an evil real estate developer (voiced by Ken Jeong) who wants to turn the North Pole into “Dubai on Ice.”

Norm is aided by a team of burping, gas-passing lemmings — the movie so badly wants them to be Minions — and a real estate agent (voiced by Heather Graham) who is torn about her involvement in the condo development.

There is no nuance to the animation or detail in the visuals; the whole thing looks like it was slapped together in time for the crew to hit happy hour at Bennigan’s. Most of the humans in the film spend their time staring into screens, as if even they know they could be doing better things than paying attention to “Norm of the North.” They’re onto something.

agraham@detroitnews.com

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‘Norm of the North’

Grade: C-

Rated PG for mild rude humor and action

Running time: 86 minutes

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