“When everyone’s super, no one will be,” chuckled Incredibles archvillain Syndrome, and, intentionally or not, Disney’s new candy-colored fantasy seems bent on legitimizing his threat. Following so close in the footsteps of another superhero fiasco, Fantastic Four, it’s at first a relief to watch the mock-Marvel ethic shifted to suburban family dynamics, where super-couple Captain Stronghold (Kurt Russell) and Josie Jetstream (Kelly Preston), usually incognito selling real state, have to miss son Will’s (Michael Angarano) first day of high school in order to vanquish a robotic behemoth flattening the city. The yellow bus sprouts turbines and darts above the clouds, and Will soon finds himself in Sky High, Dad’s spartan alma mater, which is evocative, in more than one way, of a Len Riefenstahl mountain top. In one of the solitary moments of wit, phys-ed anxiety is cleverly channeled as the freshmen have to show their superpowers in front of the class under coach Bruce Campbell’s razzing scrutiny, to be heralded as heroes or demoted to sidekicks. “Sounds fascist,” quips Will’s ecologically-gifted “hippie” pal (Danielle Panabaker), though of course the film remains fluffily oblivious to the implications of prepubescent confusion in the face of parental expectations. Will’s confession of his lowly “hero-support” status to proudly brawny Russell might be the closest the Disney gloss allows for a coming-out moment, yet it’s not long until the boy’s super-strength arrives for the picture to ecstatically herald his newfound, supposedly normalizing brute force. From then on it’s the tried-and-true route of bullies, PG-rated house parties, nerd-dunking, “That’s my boy” winking, and vapid teen romance; all director Mike Mitchell has to do is connect the dots for the upcoming Disney Channel series. Russell uses his Dudley Do-Right jaw and upswept pompadour to nice comic effect, and Campbell and Kids in the Hall alum David Foley and Kevin McDonald offer some relief from the tedium, but the movie remains condescending child’s play. In that sense, the climactic prom night is appropriate; after inevitably referencing Carrie, the sequence has all the characters turn into babies, an all-too-apt extension of the film’s tendency to infantilize its own themes.
- Mike Mitchell
- Paul Hernandez, Mark McCorkle, Bob Schooley
- Michael Angarano, Danielle Panabaker, Mary Elizabeth Winstead, Kurt Russell, Kelly Preston, Steven Strait, Dee Jay Daniels, Nicholas Braun, Kelly Vitz, Bruce Campbell, Dave Foley, Kevin McDonald, Lynda Carter, Jake Sandvig, Will Harris, Kevin Heffernan, Khadijah, Malika, Cloris Leachman
- Slant is reaching more readers than ever before, but advertising revenue across the Internet is falling fast, hitting independently owned and operated publications like ours the hardest. We’ve watched many of our fellow media sites fall by the way side in recent years, but we’re determined to stick around.
We’ve never asked our readers for financial support before, and we’re committed to keeping our content free and accessible—meaning no paywalls or subscription fees. If you like what we do, however, please consider becoming a Slant patron.
You can also make a one-time donation via PayPal: