Sky High
R E V I E W   B Y   R I C H   C L I N E dir Mike Mitchell
scr Paul Hernandez, Bob Schooley, Mark McCorkle
with Michael Angarano, Kurt Russell, Kelly Preston, Mary Elizabeth Winstead, Danielle Panabaker, Steven Strait, Lynda Carter, Bruce Campbell, Dave Foley, Nicholas Braun, Kelly Vitz, Dee-Jay Daniels, Jake Sandvig, Kevin Heffernan, Kevin McDonald, Cloris Leachman
release US 29.Jul.05, UK 21.Oct.05
05/US Disney 1h42

Super-duper: Angarano with Panabaker, Daniels and Strait (above); and with Russell and Preston (below)

angarano russell preston
Sky High This inventive superhero movie hybrid (The Incredibles meet the X-men via Harry Potter) is one of the most entertaining family films of the summer. Full of sharp comic writing and witty performances, it's full of comedy that will amuse both kids and grown-ups.

Will Stronghold (Angarano) is a typical 14-year-old, except that his parents are top superheroes Commander and Jetstream (Russell and Preston), and he's starting at Sky High School, where kids with powers learn how to save the world. The problem is that Will doesn't seem to have any powers--something he doesn't want to admit to his parents, and certainly not to his new classmates. Assigned to sidekick class, Will still finds a way to spend time with the school hottie (Winstead). Although the--quite literally--hottest guy (Strait) won't leave him alone.

Jammed with hilarious asides and extremely clever dialog, the film also has a plot that uses all the standard teen comedy elements while merrily subverting them. Like The Incredibles, this is about a world in which superheroes are part of the fabric of society, and it gets a surprisingly engaging kick by adding the Harry Potter wrinkle of kids trying to figure out who they are and what their powers mean. Because it actually gives you something to think about even as it gets increasingly ridiculous.

Performances are energetic and winning. The teens play it straight, for the most part, actually connecting to authentic emotions and experiences. On the other hand, the adults are much more comic book-like, as they should be. Russell and Preston clearly have a ball sending up parental movie roles, while school teachers like Carter (genius stunt casting), Campbell, Foley and McDonald seize every opportunity to steal a scene. Leachman, as always, outwits everyone in sight.

This is, quite simply, one of the most enjoyable action romps in recent memory. Sure, the plot is preposterous and the effects are cheap and cheerful. The whole thing, technically, is about one step below this summer's Fantastic Four, but it more than makes up for this with sheer heart and soul, and genuinely inventive and funny writing. Wonderful.

cert PG themes, action 7.Aug.05

R E A D E R   R E V I E W S
send your review to Shadows... Sky High Victoria, net: "well, actually i like the movie. the effects are so cool and it really made my day, esp. nick braun. geesz, i like him a lot!" (24.Apr.06)
2005 by Rich Cline, Shadows on the Wall