Friday, July 29, 2005

Sky High

Sky High (Director: Mike Mitchell)

Mitchell's recognizable films include Deuce Bigalow: Male Gigolo and last year's critical whipping boy Surviving Christmas. Written by Disney regulars Robert Schooley and Mark McCorkle ("Kim Possible," among others) and Paul Hernandez.

Sky High is, basically, a new Harry Potter movie with a comedic angle. It is the third movie to portray a family of superheroes within a year, after The Incredibles and this month's Fantastic Four. After watching the previews, I figured this might be mildly enjoyable, but with that Disney goofiness mucking things up a bit. Present is that classic flat Disney lighting that they incorporate into every family movie, seemingly being prepared for its inevitable run on The Disney Channel.

The story involves young Will Stronghold (Michael Angarano, who was in this year's Lords of Dogtown and seemingly made a career of being the "young" version of the older main character in movies such as Seabiscuit and Almost Famous), who has superhero parents, Steve "The Commander" (deliciously egotistical ham and cheese Kurt Russell) and Josie "Jetstream" (Kelly Preston). Will is about to enter Sky High, a school especially tailored towards would-be superheroes, and of course, since this is high school, the "lowly" sidekicks. Will doesn't display powers at first, so he is thrust into the sidekick classes, where he learns with smitten best friend Layla (cutie Danielle Panabaker) and a host of other kids whose only hope is to play "hero support" when they're older. Eventually, though, he does get his powers when fighting "rival" Warren Peace (Steven Strait), and gets the attention of the school hottie Gwen (Mary Elizabeth Winstead). Meanwhile, there seems to be a plot against the Strongholds that is going to take all the power of the heroes and sidekicks to thwart.

The movie is highly engaging, a whole lot of fun, and funny. Kurt Russell seems to be having an absolute ball in his supporting role--his line readings are among some of the best of the year. There are cameos from Lynda "Wonder Woman" Carter and B-movie king Bruce Campbell. All the kids are good, too, especially Nicholas Braun as sidekick Zach, whose power is to glow in the dark. There are a lot of people from comedy teams in here, from Dave Foley and Kevin McDonald from "Kids in the Hall" to Broken Lizard alum Kevin Hefferman to cameos from "Mr. Show" regulars Tom Kenny and Jill Talley. Also, let's not forget Cloris Leachman, who's still real funny these days.

The movie could have easily been a smartass, "hip" reference-fest, but it embraces it's comic book inspirations and derives comedy out of situations rather than smarter-than-thou, knowing-nod, elbow-nudging comedy. That's refreshing this day and age, when the big problem with family movies trying to also appeal to adults always seem to lapse into pop culture references to get by. This is one of the best of the year so far.

5 Comments:

At 7/29/2005 11:02:00 PM, Blogger Jonathan said...

I've been really pulling for this one; maybe it's the comic geek in me. I was hoping for more "Galaxy Quest" and less "Meteor Man," and it's sounding like I might have gotten my wish. I can't wait to see it.

 
At 7/30/2005 11:54:00 AM, Blogger Kennelworthy said...

Saw this with Chris and he's so right that there's not a need to write my own review. This movie made me smile...a lot. Great cast of quirky and funny people. They keep the film from being a one-joke movie ("it's high school, but with super heroes!") by mixing it up enough. I was really surprised!

By the way, Chris, under your mission to see everything in wide release this year...how many films have you seen so far in 2005?

 
At 7/30/2005 11:59:00 AM, Blogger Kennelworthy said...

Wow. I thought the music sounded great in Sky High. Just did a little internet searching and it's the same guy who did the score for the Incredibles!

Interestingly...he has also done the score for Lost, Alias, Muppet Wizard of Oz, and the Medal of Honor series of video games.

Might keep my eye on this guy...he smarts good at the music!

 
At 7/30/2005 04:39:00 PM, Blogger Chris said...

SKY HIGH is movie #82 this year.

 
At 7/30/2005 09:55:00 PM, Blogger NLock said...

Everybody loves a good superhero movie. If you're like me, I had to watch the old, half-drawn, semi-animated DC Comics stuff on TV when I was a young boy. You know the one's where Superman had to tell you what he was about to do, wasting several seconds he could have used to save somebody. "That train is going to run into that ravine!" Even then all of it was a bunch of re-runs. Like Spiderman. Most of my friends new the theme song word for word and with perfect intonation. And the HULK, too, everybody knew the theme songs. And old Batman with the POW, BOOM, SOK....knew the theme song, too. Now, movie makers have some really good special effects. My kids and I watched the Incredibles again for the 5th time or so and it's still good. I'm looking forward to Sky High even if I do have to wait until it comes out on video.

 

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