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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 Peter Sobczynski

"Like 'Fantastic Four' without that whole sucking aspect"
4 stars

The premise for the new Disney family comedy “Sky High”–a seemingly ordinary kid, the child of literally extraordinary parents, enrolls in a high school for future superheroes and gradually discovers his own secret powers–feels as if it was devised in an especially blatant attempt to create a new franchise by pinching the best-known bits of “X-Men” and the Harry Potter stories. Considering that most people would have been content to borrow from only one well-known franchise, that makes this film somewhat of an overachiever. And yet, the film manages to somewhat transcend its familiar roots and eventually grows into a likeably nutty bit of fluff with a charm all its own.

In a world where superheroes and supervillains are common enough that a morning news report blandly announces that “Evil has struck our morning commute” while suggesting alternate routes to avoid the giant killer robot, the two biggest heroes are the married duo known as The Commander (Kurt Russell) and Jetstream (Kelly Preston); they are also known as Steve and Josie Stronghold and have made a killing in the real estate business. As the film opens, their son Will (Michael Angarano) is off to his first day at Sky High, the floating superhero high school where they were both top students a couple of decades earlier. The only problem is that Will hasn’t developed any powers of his own to speak of and is relegated to classes on the fine art of being a sidekick with such fellow wanna-bees as a kid who glows, another who melts and a girl who can shape-shift, though only into the form of a gerbil. When Will’s parents learn that he hasn’t developed any powers, they are disappointed but philosophical–if he can’t join them in the family business of heroics, there is always real estate.

Of course, franchise films are not made from watching teeners learning how to sell the old Billings place, so Will eventually discovers that he has super-strength and becomes the new Big Superman on Campus. Inevitably, this drives a wedge between him and his sidekick friends, especially when school hottie Gwen Grayson (Mary Elizabeth Winstead) takes an interest and lures him away from the true-blue cutie Layla (Danielle Panabaker). And since this is a film that is trying to be both a high school comedy and a superhero epic, the storyline figures out a way to lash the inevitable plot developments together with a certain elegance and skill–a mad supervillain is ready to rule the world and a key part of the plan involves invading and destroying the Sky High homecoming dance.

As you can probably tell, “Sky High” doesn’t take itself seriously for a minute and thank goodness for that. Okay, there is some stuff early on in which superpowers and the equally mysterious secrets of puberty are inextricably linked but they are dealt with in a light manner without weighing down the proceedings. Instead, the film is more concerned with provoking smiles and laughs from viewers by any means at its disposal and, for the most part, it gets them. There are broad sight gags in which many things are destroyed and then there are equally amusing lines of dialogue as well. (One of my favorites comes when someone muses about how fast someone can acquire superpowers after being exposed to radioactivity: “Sometimes they get their powers the next day–or they die!”) There are also some conceptual bits of humor that are just as hilarious as the more obvious stuff. Take the costumes worn by The Commander and Jetstream–while the bottoms are standard-issue tights, their tops are hard molded-plastic shells that seem to have been designed solely to make them look ever-buff even when the ravages of time begin to kick in. Even the special effects have some humor to them–instead of trying to dazzle us, director Mike Mitchell (whose work here is almost enough to make us forget that he made “Surviving Christmas”) goes for a more blatantly cheesy approach to the pyrotechnics that is strangely appealing. (Not that he can’t come up with a striking image when he wants to; a concluding shot of a couple of teen heroes kissing while floating through the air is surprisingly lovely.)

Another secret to the charm of “Sky High” is the pitch-perfect casting throughout. The kids are charming and compelling–I especially liked Panabaker, the sweetheart whose superpower involves communing with nature. Kurt Russell, in a return to the Disney comedies where he got his start, is clearly having a blast as the absurdly straight-edge Commander and Preston is just as good in a somewhat smaller role. “Kids in the Hall” alumni Dave Foley and Mark McKinney score some big laughs as a couple of weirdo teachers–the former explains the intricacies of being a sidekick while the latter is a mad scientist lecturing about Our Friend, the Death Ray. Perhaps most amusing of all is an appearances by B-movie god Bruce Campbell as a former sidekick who has become the school’s gym coach–his powers appear to be a loud screaming voice and a pair of shorts cut high enough to strike fear in the hearts of anyone who gazes upon them.

“Sky High” isn’t perfect–I could have lived without the romantic subplot and the villain’s devious plot feels almost like an afterthought–but I nevertheless found myself enjoying it far more than I could have anticipated. It isn’t a masterpiece and it won’t revolutionize the world of film but it has a lot of laughs, a game cast and I, for one, would take any reel of it over the likes of “Fantastic Four” any day of the week.

link directly to this review at http://www.efilmcritic.com/review.php?movie=12658&reviewer=389
originally posted: 07/29/05 13:56:29
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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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