|Sky High (2005)
Starring: Michael Angarano, Kurt Russell, Kelly Preston, Bruce Campbell, Lynda Carter, Dave Foley, Kevin Hefferman
Director: Mike Mitchell
Superhero movies are a dime a dozen these days, especially with the sudden interest of adapting nearly every major title in the Marvel and DC universes, so it’s refreshing to see a film like “Sky High” make its way into theaters. The movie doesn’t bother competing against the other superhero flicks with flashy special effects, or even a complex plot, but it does take the blue ribbon for something that’s been desperately missing in the genre ever since it got off the ground: a sense of humor. And while “Fantastic Four” officially beat “Sky High” to the punch with its light-hearted look at the superhero family, Mike Mitchell’s coming-of-age comedy does it much better, thanks mostly to the film’s brilliant supporting performances by cult actors like Bruce Campbell and Dave Foley.
As the son of two of the world’s greatest superheroes, The Commander (Kurt Russell) and Jetstream (Kelly Preston), Will Stronghold (Michael Angarano) has a lot to prove. So when he begins his first day at Sky High (the high school for kids of superheroes) without any super powers, he finds himself stuck in a class for sidekicks, or as they like to be called, “hero support.” Taught by his father’s former sidekick, All-American Boy (played with wacky charm by Foley), Will quickly discovers the drastic division in the students at the school. Either you’re a hero (the jocks), and have valuable super powers, or you’re a sidekick (the geeks), and probably fit into the group of kids who can do things like melt into puddles, shape shift into a hamster, or, well, glow. Will finally gets his powers though and is transferred to the hero class where he’s left to choose between his sidekick friends and the popular, hero students of the school.
While the kid actors are intended to be the stars of the film, it’s the veteran adult actors that easily steal the show. Russell and Preston are entertaining as the superhero duo (complete with tacky costumes), and Lynda Carter has some fun as the school’s wonderful woman principal. By far the best additions to the cast though is Foley, Campbell as the hard-ass Coach Boomer, and Broken Lizard alum Kevin Heffernan as bus driver Ron Wilson, the powerless child of two superhero parents. The movie tends to sink into inadequacy when the story is focusing on just the students, but as soon as one of the teachers (played by the array of adult actors mentioned above, as well as Foley colleague Kevin McDonald) make their way on screen, there’s plenty of laughs for both kids and adults. Their performances are so good, in fact, that the adult audience is bound to enjoy the film more than the little tykes that dragged them to the show.
The plot behind “Sky High” is a bit of a throwaway, mainly because it’s just like every other teen dramedy we’ve seen, except with superheroes, but it’s pretty good for a Disney movie. Does that mean that a sequel will come out of this? Probably not. But I wouldn’t be surprised to see a Disney television series born from its success.
The widescreen DVD release of Disney's live-action superhero film features a decent selection of special features, but it barely takes thirty minutes to get through it all. First up is a three-minute alternate opening that shows The Commander's first meeting with super-villain Royal Pain, but it was rightfully cut. Also included on the single-disc release are a series of supposed "Super Bloopers," a Bowling For Soup music video, and "Breaking Down Walls: The Stunts of 'Sky High'," a short featurette on filming the stunts for the film. By far the best extra on the set is a 15-minute behind-the-scenes look ("Welcome to Sky High") at production of the movie, but even that isn't worth the price of buying this film on DVD.