Sky High

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Rating: PG

Michael Angarano as Will Stronghold
Kurt Russell as Steve Stronghold/The Commander
Kelly Preston as Josie Stronghold/Jetstream
Danielle Panabaker as Layla
Steven Strait as Warren Peace
Mary Elizabeth Winstead as Gwen Grayson
Kevin Heffernan as Ron Wilson – Bus Driver
Dave Foley as Mr. Boy
Kevin McDonald as Mr. Medulla
Nicholas Braun as Zach
Dee Jay Daniels as Ethan
Kelly Vitz as Magenta
Jake Sandvig as Lash
Will Harris as Speed
Malika/Khadijah as Penny
Bruce Campbell as Coach Boomer/Sonic Boom
Lynda Carter as Principal Powers
Cloris Leachman as Nurse Spex
Jim Rash as Mr. Grayson

Special Features:

Breaking Down The Walls: The Stunts of Sky High

Alternate Opening

Welcome To Sky High — Behind The Scenes

Bowling For Soup Music Video: “I Melt With You.”

Other Info:
Widescreen (2.35:1)
Dolby Digital 5.1 Surround Sound
French Subtitles
Running Time: 100 Minutes

The following is from the cover of the DVD:

“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!”

Sky High is rated PG for action violence and some mild language.

The Movie:
Will Stronghold (Michael Angarano) is the son of the two greatest superheroes in the world – The Commander (Kurt Russell) and Jetstream (Kelly Preston) – and is expected to join them one day as one of the world’s great superheroes, after he has finished training at Sky High, the high school for superheroes. There’s only one problem – he has no super powers.

On it’s face, Sky High seems like just another slightly-lame, extra-light Disney comedy about teens dealing with adolescence and discovering their place in the world, this time as a super hero analogy (kids at Sky High are, as a matter of policy, separated into future heroes ‘the cool kids’ and future sidekicks ‘the-not-cool kids’), but it is actually far better than that. It is very broad and not particularly original, but don’t let that deter you – it does what it does very well.

Sky High works as well as it does largely because of its spot on casting. Michael Angarano (Almost Famous) does earnest and sincere characters very well, and brings a likeability to Will no matter what he’s doing, be it admitting to his father he has no super powers, or belatedly realizing he’s blown off his best friend, or confronting his arch nemesis. He makes even the broadest and most clichéd of characterizations seem fresh and real.

The other kids are in the same boat – forced into pretty stock roles (the bullies, the preppy kids, the goth kid, the loner, the wanna-be hip-hop kid, etc.) that they make the most of. Layla (Danielle Panabaker) as Will’s hippy plant-controlling best friend and Warren Peace (Steven Strait), Will’s sullen fire-controlling archenemy, are the standouts.

Kurt Russell as Will’s dad and the greatest superhero in the world, plays Steve Stronghold as an aging Superman/high school football champ who wants his son to follow in his footsteps, but doesn’t quite understand there are other paths to achievement besides the one he took. If there is one downside to the film, it’s that the father/son story tends to crowd out mom Kelly Preston. She’s barely in the film.

Director Mike Mitchell (Deuce Bigalow: Male Gigolo; Surviving Christmas) shows a far lighter touch than ever before, allowing the much-covered-by-other-people ground to happen in a natural way, and slipping in a fair number of laughs in the form of super powered sight gags (The Commander keeps a drawer full of phones in his kitchen because he often destroys them when dialing quickly) and very dry asides from the supporting cast. Mitchell is a great fan of the 60’s Batman with Adam West, and that aesthetic defines Sky High. It takes itself and it’s genre with a wink and a nod.

The real jewel of the film, however, are the supporting characters. Mitchell has wisely filled his make believe school with gifted comedic actors – Broken Lizard’s Kevin Heffernan, former Kids in the Hall Dave Foley and Kevin McDonald, and Bruce Campbell – who are able to take little moments and make them both funny and revealing. McDonald’s super-smart Mr. Medulla, in particular, is so perfectly dry – almost everything he says is funny – and Bruce Campbell’s Coach Boomer takes sadistic glee in forcing people into their social strata.

Sky High is the latest Disney teen comedy about the pitfalls of adolescent life, but is much, much better than it seems like it should be in large part due to its strong cast and assured direction. It is, by far, the finest piece of family entertainment so far this year.

The Extras:
Despite being a genre film of sorts, this film is a little light on the bonus features. Here is what you’ll find:

Super-Bloopers – This is your standard blooper reel featuring flubbed lines, breaking props, and jokes on the set. Michael Angarano gives some amusing reactions after his kissing scenes.

Breaking Down The Walls: The Stunts of Sky High – This featurette highlights the elaborate rigging and preparations used for the stunts seen in the film. The wire rigs, developed for Spider-Man 2, are quite impressive. The fact that the main actors did most of the stunts is also impressive.

Alternate Opening – This alternate opening shows how The Commander and Jetstream initially beat their nemesis and destroyed the Pacifier weapon. It also shows Dave Foley as The Commander’s sidekick. Parts of this scene were seen in a flashback elsewhere in the film, but here it serves as an alternate opening that kind of ruins some of the surprises later in the movie.

Welcome To Sky High — Behind The Scenes – This video shows more of life on the set than any kind of “making of” features. All of the cast are interviewed including the excellent supporting cast. You see everything from the school sets to the crew catering area. They show a LOT of clowning around between the kid cast and the crew. It ends up being a fun look at the making of the movie.

Bowling For Soup Music Video: “I Melt With You.” – In this video the band “Bowling for Soup” sings the familiar song while they display various superpowers like freezing time, shooting lasers, and more. Cast member Kelly Vitz appears briefly in the video as Magenta.

The Bottom Line:
If you’re a fan of comic book movies, comedies, or any of the main actors you’ll enjoy Sky High. Despite the Disney exterior, this is a fun film. The lack of bonus features would seem to indicate that some sort of special edition DVD is due in the future.