Thursday, January 05, 2006


Michael Angarano Sky High movie Directed by Mike Mitchell
Reviewed by Byron Merritt

Will Stronghold (Michael Angarano) is not your everyday high school freshman. His mother and father (Steve The Commander, Kurt Russell, and Josie Jetstream, Kelly Preston) are superheroes who save the Earth from complete obliteration on a daily basis before dashing home to their "normal" jobs (real estate sales). Will’s first day of school will be at Sky High, his father’s alma-mater, a place where the offspring of other superheroes congregate and learn how to harness their powers. Trouble is, though, Will’s powers haven’t materialized (kind of like a set of wisdom teeth that haven’t come in yet).

His neighbor and lifelong friend, Layla (Danielle Panabaker), tells him not to worry about it, it’ll happen. Easy for her to say, she can make trees grow and manipulate nature. Will hides his lack of powers from his parents and his new schoolmates. But not for long. On the freshman’s first day, Coach Boomer (a gym teacher played by Bruce Campbell, BUBBA HO-TEP) is assigned to decide who becomes a superhero and who’s a simple sidekick. And when Will can’t do anything, he is flung into the dregs of the sidekicks. But he finds friends there, simple guys and gals who have limited powers. Some can only glow or turn into a puddle of goo, but they’re all nice. And they cling to Will because of who his mother and father are (the two strongest superheroes of all time).

Will’s willingness to stick with his true friends will be tested as other forces and higher classmen shmooze for his attention.

And what’s a superhero without a super-villain. Enter an old villain that Will’s dad defeated years ago and put him/her in Will’s school and you’ve added a new layer to a freshman’s problems.

SKY HIGH is fun, cheeky, and clean family film viewing. There are lots of gags for adults and children alike and they’re spread out fairly evenly throughout the movie, making the pacing and action smooth.

There are also some great cameo appearances by super actresses and former superheroes. Linda Carter (WONDER WOMAN) plays Sky High’s principal (a perfect role for her), and Cloris Leachman again appears as a wacky character: a school nurse with x-ray vision.

Any issues I had with the movie were relegated to its extremely transparent plot and some cheesy dialogue (although I think some of that cheesiness was on purpose; a harkening back to the days of cheap TV sitcoms).

The message of staying true to your friends (regardless of their stature at school) smacks the viewer in the face, but it’s not a bad message for teens and preteens to see as they encounter the peer pressures of high school.

This IS a fun film, no doubt about it. The relationships (be it father/son or girlfriend/boyfriend) are executed well and get the viewer into these superkids’ lives in a pretty intimate way. The CGI is decent (not great, but good). And the over-muscled costumes are pretty funny, too.


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