A lot or a little?
The parents' guide to what's in this movie.
What parents need to know
Parents need to know that the film includes several scenes of knock-down, spectacular (but cartoonish) violence, where kids with superpowers slam each other into walls and through windows, or zap one another with freeze rays and fireballs. One particular kid is sulky, others are anxious, and several are bullies, dunking one child's head in a toilet, throwing someone's cap in the mud, tripping, harassing, and beating up smaller kids. At the beginning of the film, superparents save the city, while a TV announcers says, "Evil has struck our morning commute," which some sensitive viewers might want to discuss, in relation to the recent London underground attacks. There is some mild profanity.
What's the story?
Fourteen-year-old Will (Michael Angarano) is afraid to tell his superparents -- Commander Stronghold (Kurt Russell) and Josie Jetstream (Kelly Preston) -- that his own powers have not yet appeared. And when he begins high school -- Sky High, which hovers above the earth, "in constant motion as a precaution against those who might have nefarious plans" -- his fears are reconfirmed. The students are divided into two groups: those with powers and those without (sidekicks).
Is it any good?
Brightly colored and extra perky, SKY HIGH makes good fun of the usual high school drama. This cartoony coming out story soon gives way to a cartoony straightening out story, as Will gains his powers after all, falls for conniving Student Body President Gwen (Mary Elizabeth Winstead), and almost misses the gentle appeal and loyalty of girl-next-door Layla (Danielle Panabaker).
Will also discovers he has a sworn enemy -- sullen, leather-jacketed firestarter Warren Peace (Steven Strait) holds a grudge against Will because Commander Stronghold defeated his supervillain father ("If you ever cross me again," he growls at Will, "I'll roast you alive.") Because this is a Disney movie, everyone eventually learns to play nice. To get from here to there, this initially sprightly film grinds its gears a bit, though Warren Peace maintains a surprisingly light touch, despite being the designated surly boy, haplessly resisting the call to join the good guys.
Talk to your kids about ...
Families can talk about the relationship between Will and his parents. Worried that he'll disappoint them, he deceives them concerning his lack of superpowers; once he gets these powers, the father deceives the mother about his punishment of the son for "nearly destroying" the school cafeteria.
How do Will's lies to his parents and friends lead to confusion and regret?
How does the film challenge the hero/sidekick dichotomy but reaffirm the hero/villain dichotomy?
How does Will learn to appreciate loyalty over popularity?
- In theaters: July 29, 2005
- On DVD or streaming: November 29, 2005
- Cast: Danielle Panabaker, Kurt Russell, Michael Angarano
- Director: Mike Mitchell
- Studio: Walt Disney Pictures
- Genre: Comedy
- Topics: Magic and fantasy, Superheroes, Adventures, High school
- Run time: 99 minutes
- MPAA rating: PG
- MPAA explanation: action violence and some mild language
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Common Sense Media's unbiased ratings are created by expert reviewers and aren't influenced by the product's creators or by any of our funders, affiliates, or partners.