I really like Sky High. It's a Disney movie aimed at teens. Part of me suspects that I shouldn't like it as much as I do, but I do. It's fun, it's funny, it has a great cast and it features an eclectic selection of superheroes. What's not to like?
The plot revolves around young Will Stronghold (Michael Angarano). Will is about to start his superhero education at the titular Sky High, but his powers haven't shown themselves yet. That would be bad enough with one superhero for a parent, but Will has two - The Commander (Kurt Russell) and Jetstream (Kelly Preston) AKA Mr. & Mrs. Stronghold. All that pressure doesn't make life any easier for a boy who is expected to do great things. Thankfully, he has some great friends, even if it looks like they may all end up being sidekicks as opposed to actual heroes. The kids may all have different powers and plans to wear some snazzy costumes, but high school is the same mix of cliques, bullies and teenage awkwardness.
Written by Paul Hernandez, Robert Schooley and Mark McCorkle, and directed by Mike Mitchell, Sky High is lively and amusing. Oh, it could certainly be sharper, and there's nothing here too complicated or subtle, but this isn't trying to be The Dark Knight (it was released 3 years beforehand anyway, in the same year as Batman Begins) and that suits me just fine. Not that I dislike The Dark Knight, it's just that not every superhero movie needs to be dark and thought-provoking. Especially superhero movies for the entire family.
The cast is the biggest asset that the movie has, with everyone doing their bit to add to the fun with their performance. Angarano is fine in the main role, Danielle Panabaker is also fine as his close friend who may or may not want something more to develop and Mary Elizabeth Winstead is the cute girl at the high school about to complicate the whole situation. Steven Strait scowls and throws fireballs competently, in a role that feels almost like a warm up for his role in The Covenant, while Nicholas Braun, Kelly Vitz, Dee Jay Daniels, Jake Sandvig, Will Harris, Malika and Khadijah all provide decent support as the ragtag group of students training to be heroes or sidekicks. But it's the adult stars who get a lot of the best moments, in my opinion. Russell and Preston are both very good as the parents who are also superheroes, with the former particularly enjoyable every time that he's onscreen as The Commander. Kevin Heffernan is very enjoyable as Ron Wilson, bus driver, and Dave Foley and Kevin McDonald (two former members of The Kids In The Hall) are both very funny in their respective roles. Bruce Campbell is great as a coach who takes no nonsense, Cloris Leachman pops up for one scene as the school nurse and Lynda Carter has an extended cameo as Principal Powers.
Sky High doesn't pretend to be anything other than it is. It's an enjoyable superhero movie that takes the genre trappings and weaves them through a standard Disney high school movie. When the end result is this much fun, I can't say that I mind. No, I don't mind at all.