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North is a 1994 film directed by Rob Reiner. The story is based on the novel North by Alan Zweibel, who also wrote the screenplay and has a minor role in the film.
An 11-year-old boy named North (Elijah Wood) tires of his parents (Jason Alexander and Julia Louis Dreyfus), who never pay any attention to him even though he's a model student, athlete, and even actor. He legally emancipates himself from them, and wanders around the world seeking a new family with a deadline of Labor Day; if he doesn't find a new family by then, he will be placed in an orphanage. Along the way, he encounters parents that are Texan, Alaskan, Hawaiian, Amish, etc, and tries to blend in with each group of parents (well, not the Amish). He finally decides that his own parents are the best with the help of a guardian angel (Bruce Willis) who uses several guises throughout the film. However a conniving kid friend of his, Winchell, used the publicity North's escapades garnered to rally kids everywhere to make their parents more subservient to them. Knowing that North reconciling with his parents would undermine this, he plots to have him killed.
North provides examples of:
- Actor Allusion: The Amish couple is played by Alexander Godunov and Kelly McGillis, a reference to their roles in Witness.
- All Just a Dream Or is it?
- All-Star Cast
- Ambulance Chaser: Arthur Belt (played by Jon Lovitz), who is literally seen chasing an ambulance until he comes across North. Apparently, he just uses it to beat the traffic.
- Artistic License: The various cultures depicted. When an 11 year old dreams the whole thing inaccuracies are to be expected.
- Beachcombing: Seen in Hawaii.
- Big Eater: The Tex family.
Pa Tex: Well I reckon we'll wake up early and eat, then we'll dig for oil and eat, then we'll rope some doggies, bust a few broncs and maybe get a bite to eat.
- Broken Aesop: The film's message is ostensibly about the value of family and accepting one's parents. It does nothing to convince the audience that North had any logic in going back to them.
- Crapsack World: Everyone in the movie aside from North, his mentor figure, and the whitebread family he's with are boorish, insensitive, loud, selfish, ethnocentric, and incapable of showing sincerity. And arguably, none of them are really that much better.
- Creator Killer: After this film, Reiner's directorial career plummeted.
- Critical Research Failure: Just about every depiction of every ethnicity. Justified because it's all in North's imagination and that's all he knows.
- Doing It for the Art: Reiner wanted to create a touching, personal fable; his very own The Wizard of Oz.
- Eagle Land: Played straight and inverted. Foreigners and Americans who don't exactly fit Type 1 are shoehorned into Type 2.
- Enfant Terrible: Winchell.
- Fan Disservice: North's crack... that is all.
- Germans Love David Hasselhoff: In-Universe -- there's nothing on TV in France but Jerry Lewis movies.
- Hollywood Atlas: Most of the segments are horrific pastiches of cultural stereotypes, including:
- Eskimo Land
- Everything Is Big in Texas: To the point that the prospective parents here intend to fatten North up because they pride themselves on having the biggest of everything. And apparently dress like Elvis in his latter days playing Joe Buck in a production of Midnight Cowboy on Ice.
- Gay Paree
- Hula and Luaus
- Incredibly Lame Pun: "Your Honor... the defense rests."
- Innocent Bigot: North seems to be one of these, since his dream is full of broad cultural stereotypes that he appears to take quite seriously. It's not clear if he was meant to come across that way, however.
- Insistent Terminology: North's "crack".
- Karma Houdini: Winchell would've been one if the whole thing had actually happened.
- Magnum Opus Dissonance: As stated under Doing It for the Art, this was supposed to be Reiner's equivalent to The Wizard Of Oz. It wasn't.
- Mood Whiplash: The assassination plot in the final third is awfully dark for a light fantasy.
- Prophetic Names: The evil journalist kid is named Winchell.
- Refuge in Audacity
- Shoot the Money: Dan Aykroyd and Reba McEntire appear as the stereotypical Texan family, and sing the film's only song, a parody of Bonanza, despite not being a musical.
- another example of not doing the research, since Bonanza was set in Nevada.
- That Reminds Me of a Song: The Texan parents sing a parody of the Bonanza theme song to North.
- Unfortunate Implications: The "all just a dream" ending means that the highly unflattering representations of the different cultures are based entirely on North's mental image of them, and therefore, North is a gigantic fucking racist.
- Unreliable Narrator: All of the background on how smart and popular North is comes from North himself, and includes things he was not present for and could not possibly know. Bruce Willis has a voice-over narration, but his character only gets info from talking to North as well.
- When You Coming Home, Dad?: Subverted in the last act, when North realizes his parents were all right after all, even though they don't heap ridiculous praise on him like other parents.
- A Worldwide Punomenon: A literal example.