The Side Kicked Hero

“Son – whether you like it or not –
superheroes wear cheesy costumes.”

It comes with the subject. High school movies must pay attention to classes. I’m not talking about Math or Science or Gym. I’m referring to groups or cliques. In Sky High, a school for “super” kids, students are assigned to one of the two classes: heroes and sidekics (the PC term is “Hero Support”). Much is expected of incoming freshman Will Stronghold (Michael Angarano), whose parents – Commander (Kurt Rusell) and Jetstream (Kelly Preston) – are only the world’s most revered superheroes. For Will, the expectations are too high, considering he has yet to figure out his super powers. When Coach Boomer (Bruce Campbell) finds this out, he unfortunately pegs Will for a hero support. Oh boy, will Super Mom and Dad take the news with super wrath?

In the superhero genre, “Sky High” is refreshing since it doesn’t have a material (usually a comic book) to adhere to. The screenwriters have the freedom to make the story as fun as they want. (Exhibit A – 80s music, as the movie’s soundtrack). I like that Will’s friends (all evaluated as sidekicks too) are like the junior version of “Mystery Men” – their bland powers range from glowing to shapeshifting into a guinea pig. Their class is taught by Mr. Boy (Dave Foley) – who fails to convince the kids that sidekicks are important too – and their prinicipal (Lynda Carter) resembles a certain hero icon (hmmm… I “wonder” who). Other characters are: Will’s brooding arch enemy (whose novel name is Warren Peace), Will’s big crush Gwen Grayson, and Will’s gal pal (or potential love interest) Layla.

The movie is not so subtle in channeling “Harry Potter” (a kid hero with a destiny) and “The Incredibles” (superhero family disguised among humans). While it fails to emulate either film, this Disney fare is smart enough to depend on a solid formula and fun enough to be light on its feet. Does it soar? I think it much depends on how heavy you are on cynicism. I winced a lot – upgraded to smile several times – while my 9 year-old cousin was cracking up. I can only deduce that the 14 year-old kid hero was funny to my cousin the way “The 40 Year-Old Virgin” was to me.

Grade: B+

Michael Angarano, Danielle Panabaker, Mary Elizabeth Winstead, Kurt Russell, Kelly Preston, Steven Strait, Lynda Carter, Dee Jay Daniels, Will Harris, Bruce Campbell, Dave Foley, Kevin Heffernan
Screenplay by
Paul Hernandez, Bob Schooley, and Mark McCorkle
Directed by
Mike Mitchell
Rated PG for action violence and some mild language.