Send the kids to Disney’s fun ‘Sky High’

Too few films have addressed the very real problems of children with superhero parents. Is there proper funding at their high school suspended in the clouds above earth? What about the bullying of students enrolled as sidekicks? And what if a child’s own superpowers simply never develop properly?

Fun: In this variation on “Harry Potter” and “X-Men,” the children of superheroes are sent to a special high school to develop their own superpowers. The tongue-in-cheek approach and the appealing cast make this fun, if way too broad.

Rated: PG rating is for subject matter.

Now showing: tk

These issues are faced with unflinching frankness in “Sky High,” a new Disney movie on this very subject. All right, so it’s not an Afternoon Special – it’s a comedy with a lot of goofy touches.

Will Stronghold (Michael Angarano, from “Lords of Dogtown”) is beginning his freshman year at Sky High, and the expectations are daunting. His parents are merely the Commander (Kurt Russell) and Jetstream (Kelly Preston), everybody’s favorite superhero couple.

Unfortunately, much like a kid late for puberty, Will has no superpowers. On the first day of school, he’s humiliated when gets shunted off on the sidekick track. How will he tell his folks?

When his powers finally show up, he’s adopted by the cool kids. Ah, the old high school dilemma: to stick with the loyal nerd friends or listen to the siren call of moving up a level.

In its own lightweight way, “Sky High” kicks this stuff around, and has a reasonably fun time doing it. Its tongue-in-cheek approach (the Commander and Jetstream are never as heroic as they think they are) sometimes pays off, and sometimes just lies there, but at least it gives the adult audience something to chuckle at.

For the kids, there are special effects fights and fumbling forays at first love. Will is torn between a loyal best friend (Danielle Panabaker) and a scheming senior (Mary Elizabeth Winstead), both appealingly played.

The nerd posse is funny too, with one kid whose “power” is glowing in the dark, another whose ability consists of shape-shifting into a hamster.

Former “Kids in the Hall” comics Kevin McDonald and Dave Foley add laughs as Sky High instructors, and cult star Bruce Campbell plays a loudmouth gym-teacher type called Sonic Boom.

Kurt Russell was an inspired choice as the Commander, a guy who’s just a little too pleased with everything he’s ever done. Russell plays it broad, but he gets all the indulgent-dad shtick just right. (Russell was a child star in Disney movies of the ’60s, so he must have felt right at home.)

Everything’s pushed a little too far in this movie, which barely bothers to hide its debts to “Harry Potter” and “X-Men.” But perhaps it was intended as a parody of those pictures, aimed squarely at 11-year-olds, in which case it hits its target reasonably well.

Kevin McDonald (above) and Dave Foley are instructors at “Sky High.”

Talk to us

More in Life

Daniella Beccaria / for The Herald

15-month-old Kantu attempts to climb a pumpkin at Stocker Farms in Snohomish on Sunday, September 20th, 2015. Stocker Farms offers a U-pick patch, farm animals and a corn maze.
Best pumpkin patch in Snohomish County

You voted, we tallied, here are the results.

Celebrity chef Gordon Ramsay walks into the Prohibition Grille along Hewitt Avenue in Everett Wednesday Dec. 5, 2012 while reportedly filming an episode of Kitchen Nightmares at the Everett restaurant. (Mark Mulligan / The Herald)
Even more films and TV shows filmed in Snohomish County

Readers point out projects previously missed in this series, from reality television to low-budget indie films.

Everett comedian Taylor Clark performs stand-up in 2023 at The Triple Door in Seattle, Washington. (Photo by Mike Bryk)
Comedian Taylor Clark to film first special Friday in Everett

The skateboarding funny-man will record an hour of his stand-up at the Historic Everett Theater.

Local musician Alex Johnston, whose newest album "Daylight Fooldream" pairs with short film he made with help from his partner Mikaela Henderson, sits with his morning coffee on Friday, Sept. 15, 2023, at Narrative Coffee in Everett, Washington. (Ryan Berry / The Herald)
Folktronica musician shoots 37-minute visual album on iPhone in Everett

Alex Johnston, 31, describes his music as ”if Coldplay and Bon Iver had a love child.”

Death of parent with child. Piece of paper with parents and children is torn in half.
Helping children cope with the hard realities of divorce

I’s important to set aside one’s feelings and find a way to make this challenging transition as comfortable for children as you can.

In Belgium, each type of beer has its own glass – whether wide, tall, or fluted – to show off its distinct qualities.
Rick Steves’ Europe: Bruges brews lift a weary traveler’s spirits

The Belgian city is a mecca for beer lovers from around the world.

Children’s author Barbara Herkert to lead Story Time at Edmonds Bookshop, Friday September 29th, 9:30-10:00 am!
Author to read her new kids book at Edmonds bookstore

Author Barbara Herkert will read “This Old Madrone Tree” Friday at Edmonds Bookshop.

Flowering knotweed Persicaria amplexicaulis firetail in the morning light.
Save for one infamous variety, fleece flowers are easy to fall in love with

This long-blooming, easy-to-grow perennial comes in many desirable varieties. But watch out: One is an invasive knotweed.

A view of King Street Station in Seattle, Washington from an Amtrak Cascades train to Portland, Oregon from Everett, Washington on Wednesday, May 24, 2023. (Annie Barker / The Herald)
Ride the rails on Amtrak Cascades from Everett to Portland

Make new friends and let Amtrak do the driving on this 5-hour trip past sea, city and forest.

Most Read