REVIEW: Sanjay’s Super Team [2015]

Score: 9/10 | ★ ★ ★ ½


Rating: PG | Runtime: 7 minutes | Release Date: November 25th, 2015 (USA)
Studio: Pixar Animation Studios / Walt Disney Studios Motion Pictures
Director(s): Sanjay Patel
Writer(s): Sanjay Patel

“Super Team unite!”

Sunday school would be a must-attend for kids of every religion if their church, synagogue, mosque, or temple put a fun, pop culture spin on their Gods—guaranteed. How badass would it be to watch a cartoon Jesus using his magic to raise people from the clutches of the evil Grim Reaper? Sure Islam would be tougher considering you can’t depict Mohammad, but there’s surely ways around that. If it’s good enough for the Greeks with Thor, Hercules, and everyone else Marvel/DC has reappropriated, it should be good enough for the pious looking to bolster their ranks. Religion is a tough sell to a kid with television, gaming systems, and the internet at his/her disposal. Just look at little Sanjay Patel ignoring his morning prayers.

Inspired by his own childhood in San Bernardino as an Indian American who gravitated towards western entertainment while his parents worked to instill Hindu values, Sanjay’s Super Team wonderfully depicts the infinite possibilities held by our imaginations. Frustrated that his father would dare ring his prayer bell while his favorite cartoon was airing on TV, the two wage a volume war until Dad finally turns the set off. Sanjay is therefore relegated to begrudgingly sidling over to the family shrine for solemnity like he’s been taught. Today is different, though. Today he looks at Vishnu, Durga, and Hanuman and sees a parallel with the superheroes he adores. What if the nefarious morphing villain of cartoon infiltrated their sanctuary? Can these Gods prove to Sanjay that they’re legitimate heroes?

You bet they can. Transported from the gorgeously exaggerated 3D polish of the real world comes a brightly colored 2D extravaganza of side-scrolling fighting glory. On one side is the multi-headed monster readying to destroy everything and on the other are the avatars Sanjay has been learning about with himself caught in the middle. The action is fast and over-the-top with the candle flame and bell of ceremony playing a role in the make-believe. Suddenly stone carving and quiet chanting turns from a chore to an adventure and this wide-eyed boy evolves from dismissing his own heritage for homogenization to merging his dual worlds into one. While everyone across seven continents has America’s Superman in view, Sanjay realizes his Gods are just as amazing and uniquely his own.


photography:
courtesy of Walt Disney Studios Motion Pictures

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