Film review by: Witney Seibold
It’s a cute idea: the son of the world’s greatest superheroes is starting high school at Sky High, a school dedicated to teaching kids how to use their superpowers for the good of humanity. Kind of like Prof. Xavier’s school in X-Men, but constructed more like a middle-America public high school, complete with gym coaches, bad lunches, and cheerleaders. The poor kid, though, faces the ultimate embarrassment when attending a school like this: he has no superpowers. He is thus put into the low track reserved for sidekicks, called “hero support,” with other kids who have superpowers of questionable usefulness (glowing in the dark, melting, turning into a guinea pig). Of course, when his superpowers do appear, he now has to choose between sticking by his wacky friends, and hanging with the popular hero kids.
And it has a good cast: The superhero parents are played by Kurt Russell and Kelly Preston. A few of the teachers are played by Bruce Campbell, Kevin McDonald, and Dave Foley, Broken Lizard’s Michael Heffernan plays the bus driver, Cloris Leachman is the school nurse, and the principal (and how perfect is this?) is Lynda Carter. As the lead boy Michael Angarano is fine (I guess Shia LeBeouf was busy filming that golf movie), as are the rest of the teen actors (Layla Pennebaker as the smitten best friend and Steven Strait as the half-supervillain school bully among them).
And while the film is fun, and sporadically funny, it’s still rather loose and sloppy. The direction is vague and, at times even confusing (but what can one expect from Mike Mitchell, director of Deuce Bigalow and Survivng Christmas?). What could have been a tight and wry satire of the superhero genre, is more of a typically candy-colorful kiddie-friendly Disney flick. There are some very good superhero satires/comedies out there (I sensed that the film was aiming for the tone of 1966’s Batman or 1999’s underrated Mystery Men), but Sky High doesn’t quite make it to that level of joyous absurdist goofiness. There is something absurd about most superhero stories anyway (the practical implications of superpowers are rarely dealt with), and this film had the opportunity to say something profound, and copped out as a fluffy entertainment. Still it’s above average for some of the other lame comedies out there.