5-Word 365 #062 – Sky High

This week’s Kids Film Friday is one for the slightly more grown up young ‘uns.

Sky High

It’s not a drugs film.

In a world rife with superheroes (and supervillains), the son of the two greatest heroes starts at a high school specifically for kids with powers. He has to deal with bullies, the sadistic coach and the advances of the hottest girl in school, all while trying to tell his parents that he doesn’t have any powers of his own. Also, someone is out for revenge.

This flick is burdened by an unfortunate similarity to the Tim Allen-in-lycra nightmare fuel that was Zoom (despite being released a full year earlier) but don’t let that put you off. In fact this is a pretty good, fun flick with its tongue just far enough in its cheek and a cracking cast. The script is full of little knowing touches and clichés, but these are played for the gag rather than as serious beats. Some of the effects are charmingly cheap as well, particularly the first brief battle of The Commander and Jetstream against the giant robot terrorising the city. Kurt Russell and Kelly Preston play these two legends among heroes with just the right amount of cheese. Russell in particular is hilarious as the super serious and sincere Commander, who keeps a pool table and a personalised pinball machine in the Secret Sanctum (Batcave – it even has fire poles hidden behind a false wall!) under the house.

-Random innuendo-laden non-sequitur- Sorry. It's been a long week. If you can think of something funny to put here, let me know in the comments.

It is their son Will (Michael Angarano from last year’s Red State) who is the only powerless kid at Sky High – so called because it’s a high school, and it’s built on a large anti-gravity platform in the clouds above the city. He starts as a freshman alongside his best friend Layla who can manipulate plants (and secretly loves Will). There are two types of kids attending Sky High. Instead of jocks and nerds, they have heroes and sidekicks. The kids are assigned to one of these groups by the gym teacher (Bruce fricking Campbell!) on the first day after demonstrating their powers in front of the class. Of course, since Will has no power to demonstrate, he ends up in the sidekick group with Layla, Zach (who can glow in the dark), Majenta (turns into a guinea pig) and Ethan (melts himself into a small orange puddle). The kids are all actually played by kids for a change, which is a nice touch. There’s no distracting Dawson-casting here. The lovely Mary Elizabeth Winstead also shows up as Gwen, the sexy senior who makes a move on Will and may or may not have a hidden agenda.

As if I need an excuse for a picture of Mary Elizabeth Winstead

While the flick is built around the kids, the adult cast is stuffed with great actors and comedians, bringing the whole enterprise an extra layer for the grown-ups in the audience to appreciate. As well as the aforementioned Campbell, Russell and Preston, there’s Cloris Leachman as the school nurse with x-ray vision, Dave Foley as the Sidekick – sorry, ‘Hero Support’ – teacher and Kevin Heffernan from the Broken Lizard troupe as Ron Wilson, Bus Driver. And finally, as the school Principal, it’s only Wonder Woman herself Lynda Carter (who is still smoking hot by the way).

Also, Oscar-winner Jim Rash (right).

I enjoyed this film more than I expected to, quite frankly. If you have 10 to 14 year olds in the house and an hour and a half to kill, you could do worse. It’s got all the expected ‘life lessons’ crap you get with a Disney flick, but made more palatable by the gags and the endearingly reckless streak of physical comedy.


  1. Bubbawheat · March 3, 2012

    A lot of people lump those two together and call Zoom a pile of crap. For whatever reason, I actually preferred Zoom over this one. Maybe it’s just different senses of humor. I even recently picked up Zoom on clearance, so maybe I’ll take a look at both of them soon.

    • Ryan McNeely · March 3, 2012

      That’s fair enough. I felt the humour in Zoom seemed more forced, as if they were trying too hard, while Sky High made me laugh a lot more. Maybe I’m just too old for Zoom. How about you get Jena to do a side-by-side comparison?

Go ahead, punk. Make my day.

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