U – 87mins – 2016
Conservation meets animation in this mirrored-Madagascar tale of a talking animal leaving their natural habitat to journey to the Big Apple. With the unique ability to speak to humans, hulking hunting novice Norm (Rob Schneider) takes it upon himself to leave his icy home and stowaway on a ship to New York in order to stop the greedy real estate mogul Mr. Greene (Ken Jeong) from turning the North Pole into a luxury condo development.
The toon’s CG style is blocky but bold enough not to be cumbersome, and kids will lap up Norm of the North’s frenetic pace and slapstick humour (in particular the trio of sidekick lemmings). Sadly, other than an admirable eco-friendly message, adults will struggle to find much to latch onto here – save for picking out the wealth of star voices (Bill Nighy, James Corden, Heather Graham).
CR@B’s Claw Score:
12 – 97mins – 2016
“Do you ever listen to the shit that flies out of your mouth?”
Exceeding expectations in much the same manner as its lead character did, 2014’s buddy cop comedy Ride Along was so popular a sequel was inevitable. But how could they continue to bring the bantz now that straight shootin’ “expert on bullshit” Detective James Payton (Ice Cube) has mellowed to his irritating tag-along sidekick Ben Barber’s (Kevin Hart) verbal diarrhea and wised up to his worth?
The answer is to reset this fast-tracked sequel back to the status quo, with James relegating recently-graduated police rookie Ben’s assistance at the climax of the first film to “beginner’s luck.” With Ben’s marriage to James’ sister, Ang (Tika Sumpter), less than a week away, James is still determined to humiliate and undermine the videogame fan who calls himself “Black Hammer,” believing if he allows the try-hard trouble-magnet to accompany him on a case that takes them from Atlanta to Miami, Ben’s dream of becoming a detective will be dashed.
“Why does nobody want to show me respect?!”
From thereon in it’s business as usual in this repeat-quel which does little to upset the prizewinning applecart in bringing more shoot outs, car chases, stakeouts and party-crashing courtesy of the “blentlemen” with the badges, who are accompanied by Miami PD’s thin-lipped Maya Cruz (Olivia Munn) and self-proclaimed “cyber dark-arts God” A.J. (Community goofball Ken Jeong yet again playing to type) in bringing down a villainous drug ring lead by Benjamin Bratt’s cookie-cutter crime lord.
Like a hyperactive cross between The Hangover and Hot Fuzz, Ride Along 2 really shouldn’t work as well as it does. Aside from a freeway car chase reimagined as a pixelated, GTA-style videogame (the farce and the furious!), this is nothing we haven’t seen a thousand times before, and yet I still found myself enjoying the Ride.
Ice Cube’s seasoned peer isn’t as hard-nosed as you’re meant to believe, while grounded motor-mouth Ben really shouldn’t be given as many chances at redemption as he is granted, but watch with beer and mates and Ride Along 2’s lazy plot rehash, clichéd genre tropes, irritating characterisation and minor flaws really do pale in comparison to the laughs it shoots out like a never-ending round of target-homing bullets.