North is a 1994 American comedy film directed by Rob Reiner and starring an ensemble cast including Elijah Wood, Jon Lovitz, Jason Alexander, Alan Arkin, Dan Aykroyd, Kathy Bates, Faith Ford, Graham Greene, Julia Louis-Dreyfus, Reba McEntire, John Ritter, and Abe Vigoda, with cameos by Bruce Willis and a 9 year old Scarlett Johansson (in her film debut). It was shot in Hawaii, Alaska, California, South Dakota, New Jersey, and New York. The story is based on the novel North: The Tale of a 9-Year-Old Boy Who Becomes a Free Agent and Travels the World in Search of the Perfect Parents by Alan Zweibel, who wrote the screenplay and has a minor role in the film.
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The movie begins with North (Elijah Wood) listening to his parents (Jason Alexander and Julia Louis-Dreyfus) argue about their problems at the dinner table. North has a panic attack, and begins to lose consciousness. As he does, the narrator (Bruce Willis) explains that North is having difficulties with his parents, putting a damper on what is otherwise a successful life; North is a child prodigy who is admired by many, but constantly ignored by his own parents. One day, while finding solace in a living room display at a mall, he is visited by a man in a pink bunny suit who claims to be the Easter Bunny (also played by Bruce Willis), to whom North explains his problems. He realizes that his parents are unable to see his talents while all of the other parents in his neighborhood can. The Easter Bunny suggests that North make up with his parents.
North then tells his friend Winchell (Matthew McCurley), who works on the school paper, about his plan to possibly divorce himself from his parents. However, he decides to give his parents one last chance by giving them a phone call. When he is blown off by his father, North officially decides to divorce himself from his parents, hiring lawyer Arthur Belt (Jon Lovitz) to do so. When the announcement of his divorce is made, his parents are shocked to the point where they are rendered comatose. With no opposition from North's parents, Judge Buckle (Alan Arkin) gives North one summer to go out and find his new parents or he'll be put in an orphanage.
North's first stop is Texas, where he tries to spend some time with his first set of new parents (Dan Aykroyd and Reba McEntire). When North notices that they are attempting to fatten him up, they reveal that they want him to be more like their first son Buck, who died in a stampede. The last straw comes when his new parents stage a musical number about the horrible things they're going to do to him. He is later visited by a cowboy named Gabby (also played by Bruce Willis) who convinces him to look for his new parents somewhere else. His next stop is Hawaii, where he meets Governor Ho and Mrs. Ho (Keone Young and Lauren Tom), who also want to adopt him. However, Governor Ho soon unveils a new billboard that features North in an embarrassing manner that will be installed along every major highway in the mainland; he hopes that people will become more inclined to settle in Hawaii knowing that North lives there. Humiliated, North has a conversation with a metal detector-wielding tourist (also played by Bruce Willis) and subsequently moves to Alaska. There, he settles into an Inuit village with a father and mother (Graham Greene and Kathy Bates), who send their elderly grandfather (Abe Vigoda) out to sea on an ice floe so that he may die with dignity. Meanwhile, North's real parents, still comatose, are put on display in a museum (the curator of which is played by Ben Stein). Thanks to North's success, all the children in the world are threatening to leave their parents and hiring Arthur Belt as their lawyer, which propels Belt and Winchell into being the richest and most powerful people in the world.
North prepares to move in with a set of Amish parents (Alexander Godunov and Kelly McGillis), but is quickly discouraged by the lack of electricity (along with the large size of his new family) and leaves in a hurry. After going to Africa, China and Paris, he finally settles in with a seemingly nice family (played by John Ritter, Faith Ford, Scarlett Johansson and Jesse Zeigler) that treat him as their own. However, despite this near-perfect life, North still isn't happy and leaves. With the summer deadline fast approaching, North gives up searching for new parents and runs away to New York City.
Winchell learns of North's appearance in New York. With the support of Belt, Winchell plans to have North assassinated and passed off as a martyr. North hides from a hit man hired to kill him when he finds out (via a videotape given to him by a friend) that his parents have not only snapped out of their comas, they beg their son to forgive him and return home. He meets a comedian named Joey Fingers (also played by Bruce Willis), who convinces North that "a bird in the hand is always greener than the grass under the other guy's bushes". He drives North to an airport so that he can reunite with his parents. However, the children, who have taken advantage of North's case up to this point, are unwilling to let North reunite with his parents and chase him down. He is saved by a FedEx truck driver (also played by Bruce Willis), who sees himself as a guardian angel. As he rushes home to his parents before the summer is up, North is finally pursued by a hit man as he runs towards his parents' arms. Just as he is about to be shot, North awakens in the mall, now empty, revealing that his adventures had all been a dream. North is taken back home by the man who claimed to be the Easter Bunny (Bruce Willis), and is greeted by a warm embrace from his parents.
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