Making the Grades
North is an odd movie. It seems that Rob Reiner, who directed and produced this film, wanted to teach parents a lesson about taking their children for granted. That's a fine goal, and one that surely deserves merit, especially in a column like mine. But somewhere between the typewriter and the movie theatre, Reiner got lost, and wound up much like North, the little boy in this movie. At every turn, Reiner seems to be searching for a way out -- a way that he can bring this film back to its original goal.
Reiner chose to make North in the tradition of the legendary Frank Capra. (If you care to read through the pages of credits, you will find Capra's grandson as third assistant director.) Capra was the creator of many warm and wonderful films, including the unforgettable It's A Wonderful Life. Reiner tries to attain that same warm feeling here. A young boy, feeling neglected and unloved because mom and dad are too busy talking to notice him at the breakfast table, sets out to find new parents. His first stop is the local shopping mall, where he falls asleep -- along with the screenwriter and the rest of the audience.
What follows is a very long fantasy segment, as North goes from pole to equator looking for Mr. and Mrs. Right. Meanwhile, the kids back home see this as an opportunity to teach all parents of the world a lesson. The problem is that this movie can justify everything from bad language to racial stereotyping to sexual situations with an 11-year-old under the guise of a fantasy. Reiner wants you to believe that the world looks like this through an average kid's eyes.
Before you put your child in front of this (as the box states) "Acclaimed family hit," consider what is being taught: This is another kids-know-best movie that uses every trick in the book to justify the manipulation being used. If you cut out the dream sequence, the other ten minutes are worth the view.