Sky High is equal measures interesting and awful. It’s the perfect tweener of a movie. It’s not terrible enough to repress immediately, and yet it’s not good enough to really talk about. It’s something right there in the middle.
When Sky High is clicking near the beginning you can see the potential of the idea. Superheroes living as normal people, having children, sending them to a high school of other superheroes. Kind of like the X-Men academy but far kitschier and certainly less cool. Some of the cut scenes from the high school do seem pulled directly from the X-Men playbook, girls freezing boys, kids running through walls and such. But the look and feel is well done. My only issue with the concept is how it got greenlit at all, as it follows on the heels of The Incredibles. Yeah, I know Pixar does what they please for Disney but didn’t it occur to anyone that these flicks mine much of the same comedy vein? Or maybe they figured they could copy/paste much of the screenplay? Whatever, they made the movie so we owe it to them to dissect where everything went terribly wrong.
The real problem is one that many movies are running across this year, the plot. Is it unspeakably bad? Well, it’s darn close. I’m sort of speaking about it now, but I wish I weren’t. The story starts as a fish out of water, if water is being in a superhero high school without any powers (unlike the other kids) and the fish is Michael Angarano. Here’s a trivia question; where does Michael Angarano start and Shia LaBeouf end? They seem like the exact same kid to me, and there can only be room for one of them in Hollywood. Perhaps a fight to the death is in order.
Anyway, I was going through the lifeless plot… So Michael (As Will Stronghold) is the son of the two most famous superheroes in Sky City, played admirably by Kurt Russell and Kelly Preston. Here you can see real modern day parallels with celebrity kids such as the child of Michael Jackson and Lisa Marie Presley whom I believe is named “Blanket.” In this case Will would be Blanket, he’s got no superpowers (unlike his parents) and the whole world is watching him. When Will/Michael/Shia goes to school and reveals he doesn’t have any powers it’s done pretty well and it feels like the movie might take an interesting turn or two.
Watch out, the wheels fall off. There’s not really another way to describe it. It’s like they were given a checklist of hackneyed plot points to hit and they nail them one by one. Unrequited love with splashes of miscommunication? Check. Turning your back on your friends before ultimately realizing how important they are? Check. Getting your superpowers and saving the day? Check. Fighting a bad kid only to realize he’s go a heart of gold? Check. Renting 10 Things I Hate About You or The Incredibles instead? Priceless.
And so, in the end Sky High can’t be salvaged. It would be a great film to take a kid under ten to, but it’s not complex or compelling enough for us full fledged adults.