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Sky High
2005 - PG - 90 Mins.
Director: Mike Mitchell
Producer: Andrew Gunn
Written By: Paul Hernandez, Robert Schooley, Mark McCorkle
Starring: Michael Angarano, Danielle Panabaker, Kurt Russell, Kelly Preston
Review by: Joe Rickey
Official Site: disney.go.com/disneypictures/skyhigh/
   

These suits are so darn tight...
Superheros are known for heroic feats of greatness, selflessness, and all that. 'Sky High,' Disney's new live-action spoof of them is far from great. In fact, it struggles to maintain some semblance of mediocrity.

The story is supposed to be a cheeky send-off of all the recent superhero movies crossed with the school aspect of the 'Harry Potter' franchise. Will Stronghold (Michael Angarano) is the son of the famous superhero husband and wife team of Commander (Kurt Russell) and Jetstream (Kelly Preston), realtors by day and superheros by night. The time has come for Will to attend "Sky High," the same superhero high school at which his parents made their mark. Once there, he soon discovers that he has not developed superpowers of any kind and he's too ashamed of himself to let his parents know. The rest of the film details his attempts to fit in at the school sans his parents' reputation and a nefarious plot by an old arch-nemesis to destroy the beloved Commander and Jetstream.

From this potentially clever set-up, the film falters because it does not attempt to do anything innovative with it. Instead, it seems to think that the set-up, as clever as it is, is enough to rest the entire film on; there's no need to try and do anything other than go by-the-numbers with the rest of the production. As such, the film trots out a myriad of cliches you've no doubt seen done better in other superhero films and other films about adjusting to high school life (the film gives a lackluster attempt at poking fun at cliques and social classes often established in the high school environment). If a film is going to include such material it is a necessity that something new is added to the formula. Here, that is not the case.

The superhero material in particular attempts to be kitsch and self-knowing but fails. Sure, some of the broad humor manages to elicit a small guffaw or two but beyond that, the majority of it comes across as overly lame and otherwise inane. As for the action sequences that go with the genre, the less said about them the better. The special effects are simply horrid. They make cinematic cut-scenes from a video game look realistic by comparison. The action itself is filmed by director Mike Mitchell with the erratic, jumpy style so popular these days. The costume and set design makes the film look a little too similar to an episode of the kids television series "Mighty Morphin Power Rangers." In other words, the film looks incredibly cheap.

In his first lead role Michael Angarano is bland; a cipher lacking screen presence. As his female friend, Danielle Panabaker is better because she shows much more comic skill and general affability. In the adult arena, both Kurt Russell and Kelly Preston are given little to do other than show unending support for their son as he endures the trials and tribulations of high school.

Don't bother with the far from super 'Sky High.'
 
Movie Guru Rating
Disappointing.  Had the right ingredients and should have been better. Disappointing.  Had the right ingredients and should have been better.
  2 out of 5 stars

 
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