Reviewed by: Amber Wilkinson

"It'll occupy the under-sevens well enough for an hour but it's a long way from being out of this world." | Photo: © 2020 Folivari/Lacie cinema/Studiocanal/France 3 Cinema/Mac Guff/RTBF

This candy-coloured French animation about a little space superhero waiting for his first super power to show itself is firmly aimed at younger audiences. A spin-off from a French TV series of the same name - itself based on characters created by Serge Bloch - this is a breezy enough hour or so but it's hampered by what feels like a basic translation that never quite manages to tap into enough humour or emotion to elevate it beyond its telly credentials.

SamSam (Tucker Chandler) lives with his mum, dad and his soft toy best friend SamTeddy on Saturn, a place that has a vague Jetsons meets The Incredibles vibe. The kids play soccer basket (there's a lot of portmanteau words about) and attend Cosmic School, which would be great if only SamSam had some powers to show for it. Meanwhile, on neighbouring planet Marth - where almost everything is a Fungus The Bogeyman green - and run by dictator Marchal (Dino Andrade), who, you can probably see this coming, speaks with a lisp.

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Like the miserable Ogres in Trolls, he doesn't like children, not least because their laughter gives him a headache and he's constantly sending things like his little monster Wet The Beds to spray kids like SamSam. Also on Marth, lives his daughter Mega (Lily SanFelippo), who is lonely and has no interested in attending Dictator School (her dad's choice) or heading to the Singing School her mum (Michelle Deco) wants, so she decides to sneak to Cosmic School under false pretenses.

As a friendship blossoms, her dad continues to plot the downfall of children as lessons about searching for the hero inside yourself and keeping the flame of truth burning bright are learned with a bit of non-perilous action along the way. SamSam is likely to appeal most to young kids who will enjoy the bright, easygoing artwork and will likely find the little boy's anxieties about wetting the bed and making friends most relatable. There's also a less obvious, but welcome, message, about the damage that bullying can do to children, with Marchal more nuanced than many evildoers. The other characters could all do with being more colourful on the inside as well as the out - although they are hampered by the bland translation. It'll occupy the under-sevens well enough for an hour but it's a long way from being out of this world.

Reviewed on: 30 Jul 2020
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SamSam is from a family of superheroes... but hasn't found his super power yet.


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