Sky High

Directed by Mike Mitchell

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Sky High

(Above: [L-R] Kelly Preston, Kurt Russell)

Sky High employs many devices we’ve seen before—a flying school bus (though this one doesn’t magically careen the innards of the human body), limbs that stretch and contract and liquefying bodies. These quoted sections, as well as the Spy Kids-paced special effects, don’t entirely detract, and ultimately carry the film when its original niceties hit empty.

At the school implied by the film’s title, students less witchlike than Hogwarts-ians are segregated into “superhero” and “sidekick” camps by loudmouth gym guru Coach Boomer (Bruce Campbell) on the first day. Surprising to all, Will Stronghold (Michael Angarano), son of world superhero archetypes, The Commander (Kurt Russell) and Jetstream (Kelly Preston), is shouted into the latter after coming up empty-handed at superpower show-and-tell.

Kurt Russell, filling a latex suit melted on like American flag saran wrap, lightly plays The Commander and his unaltered ego, a real-estate agent named Steve, with no hint toward the cerebral. Though he's able to flick giant robots into disorder, he's in silly denial about his son’s superpower deficiency. Jetstream, known in normalcy as Josie, sees it with the eyes on the front of her head.

The standard conflict enters as an insidious force from within the school’s floating perimeter. As friends learn to accommodate for their differences and divergences, and the sins of their fathers, they eventually band together to ward off a menace that's up to no good.

Though revealing that not every year will birth another The Incredibles, Sky High is generously fun for kids and has an extra moral boost for parents, exposing in layman’s terms and illustrations the ills of prejudice against societal sidekicks. It’s tolerance wrapped in sugar.