Sky High
directed by Mike Mitchell
(Walt Disney, 2005)

If you ever wondered where superheroes learn their trades, now you know -- a high school in the clouds named Sky High, an institution run by Principal Powers (played by -- who else -- Lynda Carter).

This year's freshman class includes future defender of the world Will Stronghold (Michael Angarano), the son of the world's greatest superheroes, Commander (Kurt Russell) and Jetstream (Kelly Preston). He starts out with a natural archenemy in fellow student Warren Peace (Steven Strait), and everyone -- from his classmates to Ron Wilson, Bus Driver (Kevin Hefferman) to Coach Boomer (Bruce Campbell) expects great things of him. There's just one problem: he has yet to develop any superpowers. Dealing with the pressures of high school is bad enough without the added pressures of being a powerless sidekick in a family of the most super superheroes on Earth.

Sky High is also a high school, which puts all sorts of pressure of its own on the young superhero. There's a cultural divide between heroes and sidekicks, and some of those with the greatest powers use their special skills to bully others. Will sort of straddles the fence initially, as his lack of powers put him in the sidekick curriculum. When his power finally manifests itself, he moves over to the hero class -- and that's where his troubles really begin. He tries to maintain his relationship with his sidekick friends, including best friend Layla, but the increasing attention of senior class president Gwen (Mary Elizabeth Winstead) really goes to his head. Like many a young person, Will is sort of stupid. Layla (Danielle Panabaker) is a total babe who just so happens to be crazy about him, but he lets a pretty senior turn his head without stopping to wonder why the senior class's most desirable female is putting the moves on a freshman.

I don't need to tell you how the story develops, as it's all pretty predictable stuff -- but I must say it is exceedingly entertaining, as well. This is a film that kids will love, teens will be able to identify with, and most adults will find very entertaining. The laughs are plentiful, the special effects are right on the money, and the emotional aspects of this coming of age story play extremely well. All of the principals may be superheroes or sidekicks, but they are also very human characters with many of the same problems we all share. I really enjoyed this movie from start to finish. It is, in a word, super.

by Daniel Jolley
1 July 2006

Buy it from