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Sky High

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Sky High by Walt Disney, starring Michael Angarano, Kurt Russell, Kelly Preston
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Sky High — A cute movie about the insecurities of growing up and entering high school — with the added complication of being the son of superheroes.   Teen angst, young love, and high school rivalries are here, in a not-too-serious movie that is aimed at children, but that adults will smile at occasionally as well.

In a very real sense, Sky Highmakes me think of a Walt Disney interpretation of a comic book, Invincible.   Invincible tells the story of the son of the world’s greatest superhero, as he attends high school and has to deal with his own super powers manifesting.   The comic book actually takes a mature look at a rather fantastic premise, and deals with complex issues.   Sky High takes a much lighter look at the same basic scenario.

In Sky High, Will Stronghold is starting his first day at high school — but he’s not attending just any high school.   As the son of the world’s two foremost superheroes, he’s attending Sky High.  It’s a special high school for the offspring of superheroes (and supervillains) where in addition to learning reading, writing, arithmetic and teenage angst, they’ll also learn how to control and use their powers.   There’s just one problem: Will’s powers haven’t manifested yet — and it’s hinted early on in the film that they may never manifest.  

At the high school, the idea of cliques are parodied as students are organized into either heroesor sidekicks.   Will is placed into the category of ‘loser’ (I mean, ‘hero support’ aka. ‘sidekicks’).   This leads into conflict and home, and a larger conflict, as a ‘threat from inside’ threatens Sky High itself.

It comes off as a typical Walt Disney live action film aimed at children and young teens.   For example, my 8-year-old son liked it because of the superhero fighting aspects, my 11-year-old daughter enjoyed it, and my 14-year-old describes it as ‘awesome!’  However, I don’t think anyone older would enjoy it as much.

Editorial review of Sky High, courtesy of Amazon.com

The idea of a high school for superheroes will appeal to teens and preteens, who struggle powerlessly with petty authoritarians, bullying peers, and their own rampant hormones, and Sky High spotlights young Will Stronghold (Michael AngaranoLords of Dogtown), the son of top-of-the-heap super-heroic couple the Commander (Kurt RussellTango & Cash) and Josie Jetstream (Kelly PrestonView from the Top). Unfortunately, though he’s about to be dropped into the midst of kids who can stretch, turn to living stone, or shoot fire, Will has yet to develop any powers at all — and may never develop them.

His development anxieties (and some entertaining metaphors for high school social hierarchies) contrast with a bubbling plot by an old foe of the Commander’s to destroy Sky High and all of superhero-dom. Sky High has a great supporting cast (including Bruce CampbellArmy of DarknessDave FoleyNewsRadioLynda CarterWonder Woman; and Cloris LeachmanYoung Frankenstein) and a handful of funny, offhand bits, but the bulk of the movie is bland and obvious. Younger kids may not mind the clumsy action scenes, generic dialogue, and tacky production design, but even comic-book-loving teenagers will label Sky High bargain-basement. — Bret Fetzer

Product Description of Sky High starring Michael Angarano, Kurt Russell

A super adventure of heroic proportions, this crowd-pleasing hit from Walt Disney Pictures stars Hollywood favorites Kurt Russell and Kelly Preston! The son of legendary heroes Commander (Russell) and Jetstream (Preston), young Will Stronghold carries huge expectations as he enters a high-tech high school known for molding the heroes of tomorrow. With no apparent superpowers of his own, however, Will seems destined to grow up a mere sidekick. But as he discovers his true strengths, he’ll also learn that it takes loyalty and teamwork to truly become a hero!

Movie quotes from  Sky High

Nurse Spex (Cloris Leachman): The kids who get bit by radioactive insects or fall into a vat of toxic waste, their powers usually show up the next day. Or — they die.

Principal Powers (Linda Carter): [over the intercom] There is no smoking on school grounds. Or freezing, or bursting into flames.

Will Stronghold: [narrating] You look at them and see the defenders of the world. All I see is my dad wearing tights.

[during Power Placement]
Coach Boomer (Bruce Campbell): [to Layla] You, Flower child. Let’s go.
Layla: I believe in only using my powers when the situation demands it.
Coach Boomer (Bruce Campbell): Well, you’re in luck: This is the situation, and I’m demanding it.
Layla: But to participate in this test would be to support a flawed system. I think the whole Hero-Sidekick dichotomy only serves to —
Coach Boomer (Bruce Campbell): Let me get this straight. Are you refusing to show me your powers?
Layla: Well, it’s more complicated than that, I mean —
Coach Boomer (Bruce Campbell): [Yells very loudly, causing all glass in the vicinity to shatter and makes everyone brace themselves] SSSSSIIIIIIIDDDDDDEEEEEEEKKKKKIIIIIIICCCCCCCKKKKKK!

Josie (Kelly Preston): We can’t change who he is — not without dropping him in a vat of toxic waste. [pause]
Josie (Kelly Preston): Steve!
Steve (Kurt Russell): Where would we even find a vat of —
Josie (Kelly Preston): Steve!

Layla: What’s embarrassing him in front of the entire class going to prove? That is so unfair.
Will Stronghold: Yeah, well if life were to suddenly get fair, I doubt it would happen in high school.

Warren Peace: So you’re asking me to the homecoming dance just to get back at Stronghold? Not because you like me or anything?
[Layla nods, Warren smiles]
Warren Peace: I’m in!

[Will just found out that Gwen and her mother are the same person]
Will Stronghold: Oh my God, I made out with an old lady.

Principal Powers (Linda Carter): What a waste. I can’t do anything more to help you. I’m not Wonder Woman, you know.
[walks out of the detention room, leaving Gwen/Royal Pain and the others locked inside]
Gwen: I went through puberty twice — for this?

[last lines]
Will Stronghold: In the end, my girlfriend became my arch enemy, my arch enemy became my best friend, and my best friend became my girlfriend. But, hey, it’s high school.

Cast of characters

  • Michael Angarano (For Richer or Poorer) … Will Stronghold
  • Kurt Russell (The Strongest Man in the World) … Steve / The Commander
  • Kelly Preston (Jerry Maguire) … Josie / Jetstream
  • Danielle Panabaker (The Flash TV series) … Layla
  • Christopher Wynne … News Anchor (as Chris Wynne)
  • Kevin Heffernan … Ron Wilson Bus Driver
  • Dee Jay Daniels … Ethan
  • Kelly Vitz … Magenta
  • Loren Berman … Little Larry
  • Nicholas Braun … Zach
  • Malika Haqq … Penny
  • Khadijah Haqq … Penny
  • Jake Sandvig … Lash
  • Will Harris … Speed
  • Mary Elizabeth Winstead … Gwen / Royal Pain
  • Lynda Carter (Wonder Woman TV series) … Principal Powers
  • Bruce Campbell (Evil Dead; Burn Notice) … Coach Boomer
  • Dustin Ingram … Carbon Copy Kid
  • Steven Strait … Warren Peace
  • Cloris Leachman (Herbie Goes Bananas; The Croods) … Nurse Spex

Secondary characters

  • Jim Rash … Mr. Grayson / Stitches
  • David Foley … Mr. Boy
  • Kevin McDonald … Mr. Medulla
  • Amy Brown … Twin
  • Kimmy Brown … Evil Twin
  • Lucille Soong … Cook
  • Zachry Rogers … Young Commander
  • Tom Kenny … Mr. Timmerman
  • Jill Talley … Mrs. Timmerman
  • Patrick Warburton (The Emperor’s New Groove) … Royal Pain (voice)

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