Sky High

In a marketplace crowded with angst-ridden superhero films using the latest technology make things look as realistic as possible, Sky High is a throwback to simpler times. The audience skews a bit younger, the colors are brighter, and the moral lessons are clearer in this Disney release. It's fun enough to smile at, but not deep enough to be anything less than superficial. In the world of Sky High, superheroes are like ordinary people. The most popular superheroes, The Commander and Jetstream are really Steve (Kurt Russell, Miracle, Dark Blue) and Josie (Kelly Preston, Eulogy, The Cat in the Hat) Stronghold, popular real estate agents. Their son Will (Michael Angarano, Lords of Dogtown, Seabiscuit) is just about to enter Steve's alma mater, Sky High.

Sky High is a floating high school for the children of superheroes. Director Mike Mitchell (Surviving Christmas, Deuce Bigalow) takes the high school dynamic and combines it with superpowers. The people with 'cool' powers are on the hero track, while anybody with 'lame' powers becomes a sidekick. There is a pretty brutal process where a highly underutilized Bruce Campbell (Spider-Man 2, The Ladykillers) decides who gets to be in the in crowd, and who gets to be a loser. Will has yet to develop powers. He's been hiding this fact from his parents, who are superstrong (dad) and can fly (mom). Everybody in school is in awe of him, until they discover he has no powers. Now, he's just one of the losers. He and his best friend Layla, (Danielle Panabaker), who, like all hot best friends has a crush on Will that he doesn't notice, befriend the other sidekicks, who have powers like melting into a puddle of water, glowing, and turning into a guinea pig.

Anybody whose seen the preview knows that eventually Will discovers he has superpowers. He moves to the hero class, and becomes popular. Popularity changes him. He begins hanging out with Gwen (Mary Elizabeth Winstead, The Ring 2, Checking Out), the hottest girl in class, and starts ignoring all of his old friends. This is a typical high school rags to riches story by Paul Hernandez, Robert Schooley, and Mark McCorkle, only everybody has some sort of power. Of course, something big will happen and Will will realize what a jerk he has been and reunite with his old friends to save the day. Nothing unexpected or original, but that's not what Mitchell is going for.

Mitchell wants to make a fun family movie with a superhero theme. Everything looks a bit retro, and the special effects look either really good or intentionally cheesy. Heck, even the costumes on Russell and Preston look like fake movie costumes. But its heart is in the right place, and Mitchell achieves a balance between telling a movie and giving a moral. Sky High has good things to say about school, friends, and popularity without sounding preachy. It's a bright, colorful movie, but still wears thin on a nice but flimsy premise. Sky High is superficial fun, especially for younger kids, but not much else.

Haro Rates It: Okay.
1 hour, 42 minutes, Rated PG for action violence and some mild language.

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