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Norman Review

Other Critics provided by

Critics scores range from 0 to 100, with higher scores indicating more favorable reviews.

  • 3.0

    out of 100

    Mixed or average reviews
    based on a weighted average of all
    critic review scores.

  • 50

    out of 100

    Village Voice

    Although Norman, shot on location in Spokane and scored by singer-songwriter Andrew Bird, succeeds in fleshing out its troubled main character, the actions of his peers are consistently harder to accept.

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  • 70

    out of 100

    The New York Times

    Norman may not conquer the box office, but it will certainly be a worthy calling card for its director and its leading man.

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  • 70

    out of 100

    Los Angeles Times Betsy Sharkey

    The humor is sly and not overplayed either. Typical is the English class with Mr. Angelo (Adam Goldberg) trying to prod his bored students into parsing the difference between satire and irony, which is what the filmmakers are up to as well.

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  • 70

    out of 100

    Variety Dennis Harvey

    Recalls last year's "World's Greatest Dad," similarly using a snowballing fib to lampoon the ambulance-chasing relationship between morbidity and celebrity. But unlike that primarily satirical exercise, Norman gradually ditches the snark in favor of poignant, understated dramatics.

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  • 70

    out of 100

    The Hollywood Reporter

    The film built around Norman's brazen bit of acting out is uneven -- a strong, fresh first half is followed by a dismayingly earnest second. But there's enough that is winning and sharp to hold you until the end, even as you're disappointed by the direction the film takes.

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  • 75

    out of 100

    Chicago Sun-Times Roger Ebert

    For me, Richard Jenkins is the heart of Norman. How often I've admired him; even in unworthy roles, he has such strength, he never seems the need to try.

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For Families provided by Common Sense Media

Pause for kids 16 & under

Affecting drama about terminal illness has mature themes.

What Parents Need to Know

Parents need to know that Norman is a darkly funny indie drama that deals with very heavy themes about death, terminal illness, feelings of suicide and self-harm, and grief. There's a good deal of profanity, including "f--k." In one scene, a teenager points a knife into his chest, and blood drips down his chest. There's some sexual humor, and a teen character talks about "getting laid." The film deals with the deaths of parents, and, because of its dark humor and complex, difficult subject matter, it's best suited for mature older teens.

  • Families can talk about whether lies can ever be justified in the service of something good. Through lying, Norman makes connections with his teacher and peers he previously lacked. Does this justify his lie? How so, or why not?
  • When should the rights of the dying be respected, and when shouldn't they?
  • Do you think the film shows grieving accurately? What other ways do films show the grieving process, and how accurate do you feel they are?

The good stuff
  • message true1

    Messages: Norman offers positive messages about family, integrity, community, connectedness, and the importance of grieving.

  • rolemodels true1

    Role models: Adults are well meaning, engaged, connected, and deeply caring. Teenagers are shown not as shallow and cliquish but as empathic, fully fleshed-out people with their own identities, needs, moral compasses, and complex understandings of the world. Though choices are not always conventionally honorable, they fit within a more nuanced understanding of the landscape in which difficult choices are made.

What to watch for
  • violence false2

    Violence: The film shows some images of self-harm and involves terminal illness. In one scene, a teenager points a knife into his chest, and blood drips down his chest. A terminally ill man experiences some bouts of pain and coughing and is eventually shown dying in the hospital. A teenager punches himself in the face repeatedly to cause self-harm.

  • sex false2

    Sex: The film contains some sexual humor, such as when a man makes a joke that men used to have long penises so men and women slept in different beds. A teenager jokes about "getting laid" by two of his female teachers in one day. There are a couple very brief scenes of kissing between teenagers: A girl kisses a guy on the cheek, and a guy kisses a girl briefly.

  • language false2

    Language: The film contains profanity in a handful of scenes, ranging from joking asides about committing suicide to a teenager's lengthy description of a suicide attempt. Elsewhere, "f--k," "bulls--t," and "goddamn" are used freely in some scenes.

  • consumerism false0

    Consumerism: Not applicable

  • drugsalcoholtobacco false2

    Drinking, drugs and smoking: A father and underage son drink scotch.