SKY HIGH (director: Mike Mitchell; screenwriters: Mark McCorkle/Robert Schooley/Paul Hernandez; cinematographer: Shelly Johnson; editor: Peter Amundson; music: Michael Giacchino; cast: Kurt Russell (Steve Stronghold/the Commander), Kelly Preston (Josie Stronghold/Jetstream), Michael Angarano (Will Stronghold), Lynda Carter (Principal Powers), Bruce Campbell (Coach Boomer), Danielle Panabaker (Layla), Mary Elizabeth Winstead (Gwen Grayson/Royal Pain), Dave Foley (Mr. Boy/All American Boy), Steven Strait (Warren Peace), Cloris Leachman (Nurse Spex), Bruce Campbell (Coach Boomer), Kelly Vitz (Magenta), Kevin Heffernan (Ron Wilson – Bus Driver), Nicholas Braun (Zach); Runtime: 102; MPAA Rating: PG; producers: Andrew Gunn/Mario Iscovich/Ann Marie Sanderlin; Walt Disney Pictures; 2005)
“Merely child’s play.”
Reviewed by Dennis Schwartz
Disney’s inconsequential family-friendly spoof on a comic book story that is set in a high school up in the clouds for gifted children with superpowers. It bangs out a banal story, one that is less clever than just plain silly, about their school-induced teen conflicts with bullies, peer pressure and romances. There’s an X-Men flavoring to this kiddie film that descends in goofiness and cliché portrayals of the teens and their comic-book heroes. It’s aimlessly directed by Mike Mitchell (“Deuce Bigalow: Male Gigolo”/”Surviving Christmas”) and written by Mark McCorkle, Robert Schooley and Paul Hernandez. The filmmakers go for jokes that are half-baked and a flashy visual set that is hard on the eyes not to mention the brain.
Ordinary teenager Will Stronghold (Michael Angarano) happens to be the son of parents blessed with the most amazing superpowers of anyone on Earth, Steve and Josie Stronghold (Kurt Russell & Kelly Preston), who work as real estate agents so as not to blow their cover as they fight crime in their local metropolis using their superhero names The Commander (armed with super-strength) and Jet Stream (who can fly). Why they bother with a cover proves to be ridiculously unbelievable since every person they meet knows they’re superheroes, unless that’s supposed to be part of the film’s humor.
The parents are beaming with joy that their son has been accepted into their high school alma mater (where Principal Powers (Lynda Carter, the former Wonder Woman) knows how to discipline her unruly students and disarm their superpowers when they misbehave), but are disappointed that their son’s powers haven’t manifested and he’s tracked into the loser “sidekick” program instead of the “hero” program when tested by Coach Boomer (Bruce Campbell). Will’s next door “flower child” neighbor Layla (Danielle Panabaker) also is an incoming freshman, who refuses to show her powers and is tracked into the same loser grouping. She has a crush on him but the jerky Will doesn’t notice, instead he falls for Miss Perfect, the senior student body prez, Gwen Grayson (Mary Elizabeth Winstead), a techie wizard. Warren Peace (Steven Strait), a human torch and fireball hurler, whose dad is serving a long stretch in prison due to Commander Stronghold, is the kid’s arch enemy but as things develop becomes his friend just as Will realizes the same superpowers as his folks. When Will realizes that Gwen is playing him for a chump and that he really loves the sweet Layla, he dumps her. But Gwen is not who she says she is, and at a “home-coming” dance and honor ceremony for the Strongholds she lays down a plan of destroying Will’s parents and all the other heroes. To the rescue comes Will with all the “sidekicks” and Warren Peace, as they show the villains whose boss and that they’re not losers.
It’s a twisted story that never untwists and remains merely child’s play. A spoof on a comic-book story that doesn’t seem worth the effort because the real comic-book story is already a spoof.
REVIEWED ON 7/30/2005 GRADE: C
Dennis Schwartz: “Ozus’ World Movie Reviews”
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