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A Lot or a Little?
What you will—and won't—find in this movie.
Offers a lesson in treating others without prejudice.
Themes of friendship and anti-bullying.
Positive Role Models
SamSam is honest, brave, and a good friend. Children use teamwork to foil a mean plot. A silly but clearly bad villain hates children and frequently calls them "brats."
Violence & Scariness
Silly villain uses a large, elephant-like creature to shoot children with globules of a sadness serum. Soldiers try to attack the monster with metal spears, but they're ineffective. A child is threatened with "stingers" to make him cry, but instead he sheds one tear because something mean is said to him.
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The villain looks and sounds ridiculous but frequently calls children "brats," "beasts," and "nasty." "Stupid" is used several times, once to refer to children. An army marches to a song about how if they catch children, they "smash them to smithereens" and "eat them for dessert."
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Parents Need to Know
Parents need to know that SamSam is an animated superhero space adventure based on a French cartoon series for preschoolers. The story is about finding friendship and the importance of inclusivity. The titular character, SamSam (voiced by Tucker Chandler for the English dub version), comes from a family of superheroes but hasn't yet discovered his powers and is dealing with issues like a clingy teddy bear and bedwetting. A child-hating dictator frequently calls kids "brats" and creates a sadness monster to stop them from laughing. The monster, which lumbers around spreading gloom, is big but not especially scary. When it's discovered that a new student at school is the daughter of the evil dictator, the other kids react with outrage and ostracize her, offering a teachable moment about bullying and prejudice. The movie's overall message is one of empathy and understanding that being mean to someone or leaving them out makes them feel sad, which can lead to anger and retaliation. To stay in the loop on more movies like this, you can sign up for weekly Family Movie Night emails.
Is It Any Good?
This French animated film isn't going to make any best-of lists, but its bright, colorful animation and SamSam's exciting life are likely to keep little ones engaged. SamSam is a sweetheart: He's kind, thoughtful, and dealing with issues that, we see, aren't really his fault. For instance, SamSam doesn't wet the bed; rather, an evil dictator bent against children releases wetting creatures under the covers while he sleeps. And it's the teddy bear that's not ready to let go of SamSam, not the other way around. Plus, our little hero -- which is exactly what he is, the littlest hero in the universe -- is desperate to find out his superpower (or, as adults might interpret it, what skill he's good at it). While that's definitely relatable, SamSam's life may also spark gasps of envy: He and his friends are allowed to zoom around the galaxy in their own saucers, with parental warnings but no supervision.
While SamSam may well appeal to the very young, it'll be a bigger challenge to hold adults' interest. It does have some throwaway zingers -- the kind where you look at your kid, laughing, and they look back at you blankly. (Two minions talk in the back about how spinach gives them gas, and high-spirited parents give up after being zapped by the gloom gun, saying, "let's go home and eat taco chips.") The movie's themes may be a little sophisticated for the littlest viewers: It can be challenging to talk in an age-appropriate way about empathy and prejudice with kids who are still trying to learn their shapes and colors. But it's never too early to learn how to be a good friend, and SamSam may help lay the foundation for deeper conversations in the future.
Did we miss something on diversity?
Research shows a connection between kids' healthy self-esteem and positive portrayals in media. That's why we've added a new "Diverse Representations" section to our reviews that will be rolling out on an ongoing basis. You can help us help kids by suggesting a diversity update.