11 January 2013 | cedde6
North (Elijah Wood), a bright and talented eleven year old boy (or so we're told) who clearly never had to go hungry but whose parents are so preoccupied with their career that they don't let him speak at the dinner table to dispense the wisdom his many gifts have bequeathed him (speaking of child-abuse), decide to "divorce" them and find himself a new set of parents more appreciative of his talents. Consequently, he meets a bunch of wannabe quirky characters who all desperately want to adopt him and is being helped along the way by his "guardian angel" (Bruce Willis).
I've never really been one to join in on a mob. Crowds generally make me nervous and I usually regard any gathering of any kind with a healthy dose of suspicion. So jumping on any bandwagon just isn't me. Furthermore, I've always had a soft spot for the underdog, the ugly duckling, the universally vilified, always finding redeeming features to features that usually can't be redeemed. So obviously, when I heard of "North", the 1994 comedy from director Rob Reiner, with its stellar cast and very bad reputation, I was intrigued. Reiner has always been a director with a rather good track record, his movies usually ranging from decent to excellent. So how bad could "North" be? Or more accurately put: how does a bad Rob Reiner film look like?
Well... "North" is a film that constantly struggles to find its audience and eventually fails to find any. As a film for adults, the "philosophical" narration provided by Bruce Willis never succeeds to soften the absurdity of the plot and as a film for children the whole thing is riddled with off-colour jokes and somewhat waspish clichés that make this spectacle quite inappropriate for that particular target audience. But where "North" really goes south is that failing to have a single joke that work, the film goes for the jugular and turns downright crass (the Hawaiian episode springs to mind, in that respect).
Of course, one could argue that the film has its heart beating at the right place (like any other Rob Reiner film) and was simply a misguided effort but not quite. The fact of the matter is that "North" is never funny (which in itself is pure torture for a so-called comedy) but offensive and ultimately mean-spirited through its boring stereotypes and its attempts at poking fun at somewhat dodgy subjects, going as far as insulting the audience's intelligence with truck loads of ludicrous and stupid characters, the main villain here chief suspect among these, deserving of a good spanking before being sent to bed without dessert... for life.
I so wanted to like this film, if only for the fact that it was generally reviled by everyone, which I admit is rather obnoxious of me. But I simply can't and must add my voice to the sound of the crowd as the song goes. Is "North" the worse film ever made? Well, I've certainly seen a lot worse. But somehow, thinking of it I feel like punching something. So that can't be good...