Up, Up, and Away

Movie review by
Tracey Petherick, Common Sense Media
Up, Up, and Away Movie Poster Image
Disney superhero TV movie has heart but lacks style.
  • NR
  • 2000
  • 77 minutes

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A lot or a little?

The parents' guide to what's in this movie.

Educational Value

The purpose of the movie is to entertain rather than educate.

Positive Messages

Clear and consistent message that you don't need superpowers to be a hero -- even ordinary people can achieve great things. The underlying storyline inspires thinking about the environment and protecting the planet.

Positive Role Models & Representations

The Marshall family are supportive and loving. Scott and his friends work together as a team. At first Scott lies to his family, but ultimately sees the importance of honesty. Positive representation: The Marshalls are a Black American family. 

Violence & Scariness

Mild peril but no harm comes to any characters. Characters have guns but don't shoot them. A building gets blown up with characters trapped inside -- they escape unharmed. The superheroes are tied up to have their minds wiped.

Sexy Stuff
Language
Consumerism
Drinking, Drugs & Smoking

What parents need to know

Parents need to know that Up, Up, and Away is a Disney comedy about a family of superheroes. It has many hallmarks of a TV movie -- most notably the laughable special effects  -- and subsequently might not hold the attention of media-savvy kids in the 2020s. Despite this, there is a good solid message -- we're all heroes in our own way -- that runs throughout. While there is no real violence, there are sinister characters and perilous moments. Guns are seen but not used, and a building explodes with people inside -- although none come to any harm. It's also quite stressful watching Scott (Michael J. Pagan) lie to his parents and put himself in danger by pretending that he has superpowers when he hasn't. Overall, with positive messages and likable kids, it's a passable comedy adventure -- but high-quality viewing it's not.

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What's the story?

UP, UP, AND AWAY finds a family of superheroes -- the Marshalls -- living unnoticed in a regular neighborhood. Middle child Scott (Michael J. Pagan) is about to turn 14 -- the age at which his superpowers may (or may not) manifest. As his birthday nears, Scott begins to panic, pretending to his family that he has super strength and can fly. Meanwhile a peculiar organization called Earth Protectors is brainwashing Scott's schoolmates -- apparently to make them more environmentally aware but in reality to control their minds for more sinister reasons. When Earth Protectors' evil plans come to light, it's up to Scott to save the day -- and his family.

Is it any good?

With naff special effects, laughable costume changes, and some bizarre storylines, this movie is easy to poke fun at. But the overarching message in Up, Up, and Away -- that you don't need superpowers to be a hero -- and some genuinely funny moments make it just about watchable. There is well-placed humor around Scott's (Pagan) mom and dad juggling their day jobs with parenting, marriage, and being superheroes.

The concept of kids being brainwashed by staring mindlessly at their computer screens also strikes an amusing chord. Scott's best buddy, the cool but nerdy Randy (Chris Marquette), gets all the best lines, as the friends use seventh grade ingenuity and slapstick to overcome the baddies. Despite being made 20 years ago Up, Up, and Away has aged surprisingly well. And while the clunky, low-grade special effects and various implausible plotlines make it hard to take seriously, this is nevertheless gentle family entertainment with a good heart.

Talk to your kids about ...

  • Families can talk about the positive messages in Up, Up, and Away. Why is honesty and taking responsibility for your actions so important? How did it make you feel when Scott felt he had to lie to his family?

  • Talk about the differences between made-for-TV movies and theatrical releases. The budgets are much smaller -- what does this mean for the production?

  • Discuss how environmental awareness has developed in the 20 years since the movie was made. For example, the phrase "single-use plastic" didn't exist in 2000 -- what else has changed?

  • Why is it important for superheroes to be diverse? How are the Marshall family an example of both racial and gender diversity compared to other superhero films?

Movie details

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