North: So Ridiculous It Has To Be Seen.

So I saw this movie over the weekend and just had to comment on it. I missed the first 15 minutes, but don’t really think I missed anything important. The premise of the movie is thus: North is a young boy who, after feeling unwanted and unloved by his own parents, has it set up by court order to travel the world in order to find new parents who can appreciate him.

But every place North visits (Texas, Hawaii, Alaska, China, Amish country, etc.) is so over-the-top in its stereotyping that it’s ridiculous. Everyone in Texas is a horse-riding, ranch-owning, cowboy hat-wearing sharpshooter who likes big things. Everyone in Hawaii is a mainland-US-hating native. Alaska is more like Antarctica, and all houses are Igloos (I’ve been to Juneau in the summer, and I can say… it’s nothing like that). China is apparently still in the Ming Dynasty, and everyone is something like Buddhist Monks. You get the point. It’s just so ridiculous, but it’s so laughably bizarre, at the same time. And it doesn’t help that Bruce Willis magically appears as a different character in almost every place.

Now, speaking of Bruce Willis, I should discuss the cast. The cast of this movie is just about as insane as the movie itself. Every frame there’s like another big name (either for back then or now): Elijah Wood (North), Jason Alexander (North’s dad), Julia Louis-Dreyfus (North’s mom), Bruce Willis (numerous), Jon Lovitz (lawyer), Alan Arkin (Judge, the best character), Dan Aykroyd (Texan father), Reba McEntire (Texas mother), Keone Young (Hawaiian father… you’d know him if you saw him), Graham Green (Eskimo father), Kathy Bates (Eskimo mother), Abe Vigoda (Eskimo grandfather), Richard Belzer (A ferryman-type guy), Ben Stein (Curator), Robert Castanzo (hitman-type guy), John Ritter (final father)… and the one to put the cherry on top of this insane list… a 9-year-old Scarlett Johansson as John Ritter’s daughter in her first movie. A few of those actors are on the ‘That Guy!’ list, but there’s some other big names in there, as you see. Seriously, when I noticed the little girl was Scarlett in the very last frame you can see her face, I knew this movie had officially hit my list of things to talk about.

The acting was silly, like the rest of the movie, but I have to give a shout-out to two characters in the movie: Alan Arkin’s Judge and the Amish father. Arkin stole the movie, for me. Imagine this: Alan Arkin looking like Harvey Keitel doing a Robert DeNiro impression as he acts like a courtroom Judge. It was hilarious. And then the Amish father, for the brief scene he’s in the movie, has one of the best lines in the movie. It literally had me laughing out loud (mostly due to the delivery): “Greetings, North, I am thy new father and this good woman who art my wife, is thy new mother. And these are thy new brothers who art named Ezikeo, and these are thy new brothers who art named Art.”

To top the bizarreness of this movie off, there’s even a random song-and-dance number via Reba and Dan Aykroyd in Texas. There’s some hilariously random dialogue in this movie, as I just showed, but that doesn’t even scratch the surface. This movie can’t really be explained in its ridiculousness. It’s just something you have to witness on your own. If I tried to explain it or list other ridiculous things, I’d be giving a frame-by-frame of the whole movie. Let me put it this way: back in 1994, when the movie was released, Roger Ebert gave what is supposedly a famous review: "I hated this movie. Hated hated hated hated hated this movie. Hated it. Hated every simpering stupid vacant audience-insulting moment of it. Hated the sensibility that thought anyone would like it. Hated the implied insult to the audience by its belief that anyone would be entertained by it."

So if it can bring about such a reaction from Mr. Ebert, it just has to be seen. If you like movies that are so-bad-they’re-good, you definitely need to check this one out. You’ll have a great time, I’m sure. Oh, and did I mention it’s directed by Mr. Rob Reiner? You know, of The Princess Bride and Spinal Tap fame? Yeah, I couldn’t believe it, either.


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