I’m a sucker for a good tale about superheroes and the learning of their abilities and so on. I admit that. I love a good superhero tale, and that’s why I didn’t completely dislike “Sky High,” because beneath its Disney muck, it’s actually a pretty fun tale about living up to your parents and the pressures of it. Michael Angarano is Will, the only son of a suburban couple who happen to be the world’s strongest superheroes. Ahem—they met during a battle and fell in love, and now are a team. “The Incredibles,” you say? Well, yes, but I just plain enjoyed Kurt Russell as a somewhat demented working class father who encourages his son to take up the family business. “Sky High” is busy, it’s colorful, and it will keep its target audience watching with a smile.
I’m a sucker for comic book movies, and “Sky High” won me over not only by the way it never took itself too seriously, but at how it managed to turn tired devices and make it crow pleasing. The superhero tests, the typical villains, and the inevitable showdown between heroes and villains just make it worth your time. And the director seems to be having a great time casting Lynda Carter, who appears as an in-joke as the school’s head mistress and—by the way–still looks damn good. And then there’s an appearance by Bruce Campbell as the school’s coach who tests which children will be given the hero title or be relegated to sidekick. And on the flipside, there are some very creative characters to root for. Warren Peace is a great character, and holds up the tension with his cast keeping the audience guessing. People like Magenta and Gwen Grayson give “Sky High” a bit of distinction and originality, and the performances here are just off the wall.
But, deny it all you may, in the end, “Sky High” is nothing but a remake of “The Incredibles,” mixed with a Caucasian variation of “Up, Up, and Away,” and themes ripped from “Harry Potter,” and “X-Men.” And that’s what keeps “Sky High” consistently embarrassing to watch. Disney whites out their original film “Up, Up and Away” which featured a pre-dominantly black cast, and had the same basic story of a young boy whose parents are superheroes. He’s trying to become one and follow in their footsteps except he never earns any powers. But it’s not as if the aforementioned was a masterpiece, however it’s a prime example of Disney’s practices. “Sky High” is basic Disney fodder with the sugary plot, a massive villain with a pretty odd grand scheme, and an ending that defeats the purpose of investing in the characters. Turning the heroes into babies? That’s it? And like every Disney outing, this deals with basic obligatory teen issues that you’ll find in any Disney movie in their library.
Let’s run down the list: acceptance, pride, friendship, elitism, bonding, popularity, yadda yadda. And the writer is never afraid to get predictable and hokey with some cheesy one-liners about friendship and team work, and an utterly predictable plot twist that any viewer with common sense could see coming from miles away. Gee, I wonder who the secret villain is; I wonder if the sidekicks will get a chance to prove themselves in the end, and I wonder if they’ll all learn about teamwork and hard work. Gag me. Paired with the fantastic “The Incredibles,” this imitation just doesn’t hold up. It’s a flawed and regurgitated cash-in, but it’s a lot of fun, features some very good direction, and I’m a sucker for movies dealing with comic book lore. I’d recommend it, even if you are sick of the superhero craze.