(PG) 3 StarsEd Johnson-Ott
Sky High is a dandy, old-fashioned, live-action Disney comedy with delightfully cheesy special effects (and lots of them, too) and slapstick gags all over the place. Oh sure, it starts slow, and the jokes are nothing you'd write home about, but those are minor quibbles. The movie is zippy, it feels great and the actors are terrific. (L-R) Kurt Russell, Michael Angarano
There's a saying - don't know where I heard it - that goes, "Life is just high school with longer halls." Scary, huh? Sky High deals with the social nightmare known as high school. The story, about a high school for superheroes, deals with all the cliques, the snobbery, the small-mindedness, the bullying, all the same ugliness that typical kids face, but in a more explosive way.
Will (Michael Angarano) is a freshman at Sky High, an elite facility for superheroes-in-the-making that rests on anti-gravity platforms above the clouds. Because the kid's parents are superhero legends Commander Stronghold (Kurt Russell) and Jetstream (Kelly Preston), much is expected of him. On the first day of school, freshmen are forced to be tested for their powers by super loud-mouthed Coach Boomer (Bruce Campbell). Those without powers, or those whose powers are deemed trivial, are labeled sidekicks, forever destined to support those whose powers put them in the heroes category.
As should come as no surprise, Will has no powers and is shunted into the sidekicks category, along with his friend Layla (Danielle Panabaker), who refuses the test. Will soon finds himself the target of bullies, including fire-powered Warren Peace (Steven Strait). Ah, but wait - the beautiful Gwen (Mary Elizabeth Winstead) is interested in Will, and she's classed as a hero! What will happen between them, and what about poor Layla, who clearly loves Will? And what will Mom and Dad make of Will's problems?
The cast is really good, especially Kurt Russell as Commander Stronghold and Michael Angarano as Will. Kids in the Hall vet Kevin McDonald is a hoot as the science professor. Dave Foley, Bruce Campbell and Lynda Carter also offer solid supporting performances.
Man, every once in a while I love movies like this! So clean, so retro, so Disney.