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Overall Rating
3.95

Awesome: 21.69%
Worth A Look55.42%
Average: 20.48%
Pretty Bad: 1.2%
Total Crap: 1.2%

9 reviews, 29 user ratings


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Sky High (2005)
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by Scott Weinberg

"So let's hear it for low expectations and sparklingly pleasant surprises."
4 stars

What with all the Incredibles and Fantastic Fours and various masked heroes swinging through the multiplexes these days, you'd probably be forgiven for overlooking a cute little also-ran like Disney's "Sky High." The marketing campaign isn't exactly scintillating, and the project as a whole sort of screams "retread!" But that's what makes being a movie geek so much fun: Sometimes you're just SURE a movie will suck six ways to Wednesday, but then you're proven dead wrong by being treated to a solid little winner like this one.

Perhaps best described as The Incredibles meets Harry Potter by way of Mean Girls, Sky High is not a movie even remotely concerned with forging new ground or winning first prize in an originality contest. It's a movie comprised almost entirely of pieces from a variety of other genres: it's got slick action bits like a high-end superhero adventure; it's got a sweet-natured "teens learn valuable lessons" structure that should be resoundingly familiar to just about any moviegoer; and it's a broad little farce that pokes some fun at the numerous comic-booky conventions, and it does so with a smirk on its chin and an obvious affection for its predecessors and inspirations.

Basically, it's one of this summer's most enjoyable little surprises -- stunned as I am to admit it!

Will Stronghold (the rather excellent Michael Angarano) is the son of The Commander and Josie Jetstream, reigning champions of the superhero world. The young man is just about to spend his first day at Sky High, which is a floating mega-school that specializes in teaching super-youngsters how to best hone their skills and prepare for a life full of evil-thwarting. One of the first things required from the incoming freshman: They must display their specific power(s) and earn a designation of "hero" or "sidekick." But poor Will hasn't even discovered his powers just yet.

Fortunately our young hero has a variety of sidekicky pals who harbor all sorts of wacky talents: lovely Ms. Layla has the power to control vegetation of all kinds, Magenta can shape-shift (but only into the form of a guinea pig), and Zach? Well, Zach can glow yellow when he has to. (Zach's obviously destined for a lifetime of "sidekick" status.) But when the ultra-cool "hero" kids discover who Will's parents are, he's all of a sudden transported into the realm of pubescent popularity.

And you can pretty much tell where the surface-plot of Sky High is headed: Will inadvertently alienates all of his sidekick (see: nerd) pals by hanging out with all the hero kids (see: jocks), and eventually learns that labels are bad, that true friends are invaluable, and that sometimes the really pretty girls are actually kind of nasty on the inside. Again, on the surface, there's nothing new here.

But where Sky High succeeds (and at times succeeds wildly) is the way in which the screenwriters approach such familiar conventions and twist them onto their ear ... with just a little help from the superhero world. We've all seen high school movies about nerds, jocks, cheerleaders, and proms, but Sky High sprinkles some much-needed freshness into the mix by infusing the stock characters and familiar ideas with a healthy dose of vibrant color, sweet-natured wit, and even a few injections of bizarre and subversive humor ... if only for the parents who might be in the audience.

The young actors are strong across the board, but the hidden treasure lies within the grown-up goofballs. Kurt Russell and his swaggering chin are clearly having a big fat ball as the good-natured yet perpetually obtuse Superdad; Dave Foley contributes a great supporting turn as a sidekick teacher; Kevin McDonald is drop-dead hilarious as a massive-brained science instructor; and the ever-classic Bruce Campbell drops by to steal a few scenes as a no-nonsense coach with a sonic-booming voice-box.

Sky High is equal parts slapstick, spoof, and straight-arrow family comedy all rolled into one. The frequent sight gags and action bits will have the younger kids giiggling and applauding, while the 'high school politics' material will strike a chord with the 'tweenie crowd. And those lucky parents who just narrowly avoided sitting through Herbie: Fully Loaded will be pleasantly surprised to find themselves chuckling out loud at material that the kiddies most likely won't even acknowledge.

Shocked as I am to (happily) admit it, Sky High is just as much fun for the young-at-heart geeks (i.e. ME) as it is for the "intended" audience of giggle-happy pre-teens. It's directed in a primary-color blur of goofy dutch angles and genre-aware snarkiness; the flick breezes along as if mounted on ball bearings; and the laugh quotient is stunningly consistent from beginning to end. And, at probably one-quarter the cost, it's infinitely more clever, exciting, and smoothly enjoyable than Fantastic Four could ever hope to be.

I really did expect this flick to be a piffling little chore, and a time-waster in just about every conceivable way. Shows what I know. "Sky High" is an absolute treat from start to finish, against all calculable odds, and I expect it will become a kooky little cult favorite of all the comic book geeks out there. They might be too embarrassed to admit it, but I'm sure as hell not: I had a ball with "Sky High," and I suspect that lots of stunned moviegoers are going to walk out feeling the same way.

link directly to this review at http://www.efilmcritic.com/review.php?movie=12658&reviewer=128
originally posted: 07/29/05 16:06:33
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User Comments

11/07/17 Carol Baker See the movie and form your own opinions. 3 stars
10/28/13 Sissy Gifford One of my absolute favorite superhero movies. Light, clean fun! 5 stars
11/18/09 suriya good 4 stars
5/27/08 PAUL SHORTT A BLAST OFF INTO GOOD FUN FOR KIDS 3 stars
4/15/08 Mrs. Cena Steven Strait is very attractive. I want to have ice powers!!! 4 stars
12/18/07 Paula Michael Angarano puts in a fantastic performance, I love this film. 5 stars
5/18/07 lydi cheezy yet fun, good job actors, keep up the good work, there is not return, 4 stars
3/25/07 sarah Grodzicki Warren Peace is so HOT!!!! 5 stars
3/21/07 dude very average 3 stars
12/07/06 Browncoat Better than I thought it would be.(FYI: I disliked Gwen Grayson from the start.) 4 stars
8/17/06 tonya awesome. Very fun. 5 stars
6/22/06 drydock54321 very fun to watch. entertaining 5 stars
3/15/06 Dk Good fun if a lttle predictable 4 stars
12/06/05 tatum Cute enough stuff 4 stars
11/30/05 Jeff Anderson Terrific with a fun & spirited cast. It's great to see Campbell & Carter in the same film! 5 stars
11/16/05 PAG Good solid family film. 4 stars
10/01/05 ron the most enjoyable movie i've seen all year. what a surprisen and what a treat! 5 stars
9/25/05 Aaron Smith Great little superhero film. 5 stars
8/28/05 Fred the nooyorker Really funny. Great writing. A movie kids can watch and adults will enjoy. 4 stars
8/13/05 Mark Surprisingly enjoyable, in a light way. Kids loved it. 4 stars
8/12/05 Gail S. Sorry to waste money and sorry I took grandchildren 2 stars
8/10/05 billyshears Really liked it a lot 5 stars
8/09/05 KingNeutron Very formulaic, but the villain has a good acting career ahead. 3 stars
8/08/05 Rolando I LOVED this movie! This one is definitely a keeper when it gets to DVD! 5 stars
8/08/05 Michael Great fun! Hope for sequels! 5 stars
8/05/05 jcjs33 my first 'total crap'..Kelly Cult Preston in a 'Harry Potter' wannab..horrid piece of junk 1 stars
8/03/05 William Vollmer a good movie; not exceptionally great but not exceptionally bad either 3 stars
8/01/05 michaelb14 suprisingly good, kooky fun 4 stars
7/30/05 Bill Fantastic! 5 stars
IF YOU'VE SEEN THIS FILM, RATE IT!
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USA
  29-Jul-2005 (PG)
  DVD: 29-Nov-2005

UK
  N/A

Australia
  15-Sep-2005




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