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In a beautiful written piece for the New York Times, Trevor Noah paints a picture of his childhood with his mother

Sky High

2006-07-12 17:15


In the world of Sky High, superheroes are a normal part of life. Will Stronghold (Michael Angarano) is the child of Commander (Kurt Russel) and Jetstream (Kelly Preston), who both have superpowers, but run a successful estate agency as a cover. Naturally Will is expected to be exceptionally talented, but by the first day of school, he still hasn't begun to exhibit any powers - a fact he hides from his parents along with his assignment to the "sidekick" learning stream by the cruel coach who sorts the heroes from the losers on day one. Can he survive his freshman year while dealing with a bully with super speed, a dangerous rebel enemy, not to mention the usual teen angst too? Yes, because luckily an evil villain steps in to threaten Will's family, his school, and his friends, forcing him and his fellow sidekicks to prove they're also superheroes... just different.


It's a teen comedy set in a training school for kids with special powers who will grow up to be superheroes. Sounds like fun? It should be. It should be like Clueless but with action. Like Fame with sci-fi. Like Saved without Jesus. And Kurt Russell playing an estate agent is priceless. If that isn't typecasting...

Unfortunately, the resulting "comedy" is just a bad copy of that animated classic The Incredibles, set in a high school and couched in a standard teen-finds-self plot. Despite its glam setting, Sky High is hellishly mundane. The only thing likely to distract from its tedious progress is your growing irritation at the plain stupidity of the main character, and perhaps the revolting redneck values of his parents and the school they send him to.

That's not to say characters in a movie should be likeable. Often the villain is the most popular character. But the supposed heroes of the movie should at least attempt to impress and not just toe the line until the only way to save the status quo is to accept change.

Add to that a hackneyed simplification of human relations at a high school, and even more credibility disappears. Sure, much as real kids do often narrowly define themselves as either "jocks", or " popular " or "nerds", the actual social divisions at school are much more greyed than Sky High paints them. In Sky High, the sidekicks are spotty, physically weaker and crudely characterised in every way, while the superheroes are, well, jock stereotypes. The only exception is Danielle Panabaker as would-be girlfriend Layla - but she only ends up as a sidekick because she rejects her superhero role, so it's ok if she's fairly hot-looking.

A few fun stunts don't excuse Sky High's reliance on the least admirable macho ideals. It doesn't really warrant much attention, but it's been very popular in America for espousing decent values and not being nearly as bad as most other movies of its type (teen comedies, in other words).

Which just shows how tragically acceptable two bad things are: Firstly mediocrity. and secondly the idea that there IS such a thing as a superhero. In particular it's the idea that a superhero not only knows best, but is so right that he has the moral duty to go in there, and use violent might to vanquish the baddie. Ring a bell?

This is worth getting on DVD so that that you can entertain yourself by doing other things during the boring bits. It's definitely not worth seeing on the big screen.

- Jean Barker

Sky High should be lots of fun - it's about a school for kids with super powers after all. Pity it's nothing but a cheap copy of The Incredibles.

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Natasha 2006-02-02 08:19 AM
Sky High Great movie for kids and adults alike, some adults sill believe in superheros!
Francois 2006-02-02 08:54 PM
Sky High A good, relaxing story with a message for teens. I liked it.

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