Review by Sean Boelman
While cosmic superhero kids may not sound like the most appealing premise to adults, the French animated movie SamSam is shockingly cute. Short and sweet, children will love the bright colors and goofiness of the film while their adult companions will appreciate its uplifting message about happiness.
Based on the children’s book series and cartoon of the same name, the movie follows a young superhero who is struggling to fit in because he hasn’t gotten any powers yet, when he meets a new friend who has her own reasons that she stands out. For a movie aimed at such a young audience, the plot is pretty intricate and involved, combining arcs that would normally get an individual episode each.
The film is less than an hour and twenty minutes long, meaning that it moves insanely quickly. However, given the fact that the movie is aimed at a younger audience with a shorter attention span, the brief runtime works to its advantage. It’s a very hyper and energetic movie, and that is exactly what family audiences need right now.
And while there are plenty of movies that deal with the issue, this has to be one of the most effective anti-bullying films to come out in a while. Though some of the more complex ideas, like those addressing racism and coming of age, may be lost to the target audience, younger viewers will see (from multiple perspectives) the painful effects that exclusionism can have on their peers.
The two lead characters are both very compelling. It was an interesting choice for the filmmakers to have two heroes for the movie, but it works, especially given the fact that there is a male and a female lead. For a genre that is still so male-dominated at the moment, it is nice to see a kids’ movie break the mold like that.
Furthermore, the film also benefits from having some legitimately memorable antagonists. Although the villain can initially come off as a bit dark compared to the rest of the movie, it works quite well once more of a backstory is added. As a foil to the hero, he is actually nicely developed.
The animation of the film is bright and colorful, which will allow it to really stand out to the preschool and elementary age crowd. While it doesn’t look particularly comic-like, it has a unique visual style of its own that works well. The soundtrack is also filled with catchy, if generic pop tunes that will have kids dancing along with them.
SamSam is much cuter than it has any right to be. An energetic and often funny superhero movie for kids, this may not break any new ground narratively, but it addresses important themes in a satisfying way.
SamSam hits VOD on August 7.
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