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Stretch Armstrong and the Flex Fighters
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The parents' guide to what's in this TV show.
What parents need to know
Parents need to know that Stretch Armstrong and the Flex Fighters is an animated superhero story inspired by Hasbro's flexible action figure of 1970s fame. The show's heroes are three teens who come by their powers accidentally but adapt to their new reality with enthusiasm, using their powers to protect their town from monsters of various shapes. There's cartoon violence in every episode, mostly involving punching, crashes, and the destruction of buildings and vehicles. Expect occasional name-calling, like "jerk face." But themes of teamwork are prominent in this likable superhero story, which also gives dimension to its characters' relationships with parents and friends.
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What's the story?
In STRETCH ARMSTRONG AND THE FLEX FIGHTERS, a lab accident forever alters the fates of high school honor student Jake Armstrong (voiced by Scott Menville) and his friends Nathan Park (Steven Yeun) and Ricardo Perez (Ogie Banks), when they're exposed to a chemical substance called flexarium. Suddenly, the guys discover new powers of flexibility, flight, and heft, respectively, which they must use to protect Charter City from various monsters while protecting their real identities. Thanks to their corporate sponsor, Rook Unlimited, the guys are outfitted with new suits and the aliases "Stretch," "Wingspan," and "Omni-Mass."
Is it any good?
Young superhero fans have another character to add to their repertoire in the fresh young faces of Stretch Armstrong and his cohorts. As superheroes go, Stretch is a bit of an untapped anomaly -- a household name and face for an older generation of toy lovers, but otherwise lacking in visibility because he never really took off on the big or small screen. Netflix remedies that with this fast-paced series about three teens moonlighting as town heroes while they muddle through high school in their "real" lives.
Besides the superhero action and the evolving buddy comedy among the three main characters, Stretch Armstrong and the Flex Fighters presents other relationships that are intriguing to watch evolve. Jake's interactions with his dad are surprisingly insightful as Jake balances his father's expectations with his own set of priorities. Similarly the new friendship between Jake and Nathan and the newcomer, Ricardo, has some hiccups as they bond over their new powers but have little in common otherwise. All in all, this is a fresh and appealing addition to the superhero collection that parents may even want to watch with their kids.
Talk to your kids about ...
Families can talk about the appeal of superhero stories. What can be learned about courage and selflessness even from fictional characters like the ones in Stretch Armstrong and the Flex Fighters? Should superheroes be flawless, or is it better that they make human mistakes as well as perform superhuman feats? What other character strengths are important to you?
Kids: What stands out to you about Jake's relationship with his father? Does his dad have unrealistic expectations of him or just hold him to a high standard? Do they communicate well? How do you keep the lines of communication open with your parents?
What experiences do you share with your closest friends and how do they help define your relationships? Why do Ricardo, Jake, and Nathan relate differently when they're regular high school students than when they're superheroes?
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