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The Guardian - UK
The Guardian - UK
Cath Clarke

Super Wings: Maximum Speed review – kiddie plane cartoon that normalises social media for under 10s

Super Wings: Maximum Speed.
Reams of followers … Super Wings: Maximum Speed. Photograph: Dazzler Media

Parents of little kids might be familiar with Super Wings, the colourful animated series about a cheery little plane called Jett who delivers packages to children all around the world. I have to admit that when my daughter got hooked aged four or so, I’d zone out three-and-a-half minutes in, after Jett chirped “On time, every time!” for the umpteenth time. Now comes a cinema spin-off that’s just as good-natured and empty-headed as the series. But if you’re a parent taking a deep breath and thinking about your kids’ smartphone use, avoid at all costs.

Because, bizarrely for movie aimed at very small children, the plot revolves around social influencers and a video sharing site called Froggle (that looks a lot like TikTok). It begins when Jett delivers a package to Fei, a preteen influencer with a legion of followers. Naturally, Fei films the unboxing of her parcel, which turns out to be a trophy from Froggle to celebrate her one millionth subscriber. Enter a new baddie to the franchise, Billy Willy, a pink-quiffed ex-toymaker bent on kidnapping social media influencers (for reasons that made not one iota of sense to me).

The movie clatters along, with Jett and Fei whizzing about trying to stop Billy Willy in his nefarious tracks. What’s interesting is how the script assumes kids are familiar with the vocabulary of social media; it’s littered with words like “influencer”, “likes”, “clicks”. Pointing this out at the start of the year – before the grassroots Smartphone-Free Childhood movement – might have looked preachy and sanctimonious, the equivalent of refusing to let your kids watch telly in the 80s. But normalising social media for under-10s is a definitely thumbs down.

• Super Wings: Maximum Speed is in UK and Irish cinemas from 3 May.

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