Sky High

A didactic Disney kiddie comedy that filters run-of-the-mill high school through comic-book superhero conventions, this limp, forgettable fluff is as preachy and heavy-handed as the Goofus and Gallant cartoons that a generation of children far less media-savvy than today's recognized as ham-fisted lessons in good behavior masquerading as funny strips. Dorky...read more

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Reviewed by Maitland McDonagh
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A didactic Disney kiddie comedy that filters run-of-the-mill high school through comic-book superhero conventions, this limp, forgettable fluff is as preachy and heavy-handed as the Goofus and Gallant cartoons that a generation of children far less media-savvy than today's recognized as ham-fisted lessons in good behavior masquerading as funny strips. Dorky Will Stronghold (Michael Angarano) is entering his freshman year at Sky High, the top-secret vocational academy for the power-blessed that produced his parents, granite-jawed, second-generation superhero Commander Stronghold (Kurt Russell) and high-flying Josie Jetstream (Kelly Preston). They're tickled beyond belief that Will is going to their alma mater. What they don't know — because Will has been too embarrassed to tell them — is that he doesn't have any superpowers, a deficiency that becomes all too apparent during the school's humiliating Power Placement tests. These funnel incoming students into two tracks: either "Hero," or the dreaded "Hero Support," which grooms unfortunates with not-so-super talents — say, a knack for glowing feebly in the dark or shape shifting, but only into a guinea pig — for the second-class life of a sidekick. Will lands in the Support group with his best friend Layla (Danielle Panabaker) — who has powers but opted out of the "fascistic" selection process — and finds a mortal enemy in Warren Peace (Steven Strait), who can shoot fireballs from his fingertips and hates all Strongholds because the Commander busted his dad. After doing time in high-school purgatory, tormented by bullies, ignored by the cool kids and embarrassed by his own feebleness, Will gets his powers, acts like a jock — sorry, jerk — and learns his lesson in time to do right by everyone. Movies like THE INCREDIBLES (2004), whose story, characters and themes play in different but equally resonant ways for small children, teenagers and adults, are harder to make than is generally supposed, and comic-book movies that appeal to nonfans are harder still. SKY HIGH's juvenile tone and formulaic story are geared to preteens, and the sop of baby boomer-friendly casting like Wonder Woman Lynda Carter as Principal Powers or former Disney child star Russell as a supersquare dad isn't enough to keep adults from squirming with boredom. But how many 10-year-olds are crazy for the squeaky-clean charms of old-fashioned superheroes, insipid covers of '80s hits or indulgent high-school nostalgia? As to the idea that it's a John Hughes film "with capes" (as producer Andrew Gunn declared), John Hughes' teen comedies were neither stupid nor condescending. This film is both.

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  • Released: 2005
  • Rating: PG
  • Review: A didactic Disney kiddie comedy that filters run-of-the-mill high school through comic-book superhero conventions, this limp, forgettable fluff is as preachy and heavy-handed as the Goofus and Gallant cartoons that a generation of children far less media-s… (more)

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