ⓘ Sky High (2005 film)

Sky High (2005 film)

ⓘ Sky High (2005 film)

Sky High is a 2005 American superhero comedy film about an airborne school for teenage superheroes. It was directed by Mike Mitchell, and written by Paul Hernandez, Robert Schooley, and Mark McCorkle. The film stars Kelly Preston, Michael Angarano, Danielle Panabaker, Mary Elizabeth Winstead, and Kurt Russell. It tells the story about the son of two superheroes who is enrolled in a superhero school where his powers kick in.


1. Plot

Will Stronghold begins ninth grade at Sky High, a high school that exclusively teaches teenagers with superpowers. Wills parents are The Commander and Jetstream, two of the worlds most famous superheroes. Wills best friend, Layla, who happens to have a crush on him, has the power to manipulate plant life. Will is anxious about attending Sky High, located on a floating campus reached by a flying school bus, because, unbeknownst to his parents, he has not developed any super powers.

On the first day, he and the other ninth graders are harassed by a trio of bullies: Speed, a burly senior with super speed, Lash, a skinny senior with extreme flexibility, and Penny Lent, a senior cheerleader who has the ability to duplicate herself. Because of his lack of powers, Will is assigned to a curriculum for "Hero Support" and becomes a sidekick by Coach Boomer. His classmates include Ethan, who melts into a fluid; Zach, who glows in the dark; Magenta, who transforms into a guinea pig; and Layla, who joins the class in protest against the two-track nature of the schools education system. The class is taught by The Commanders former sidekick, "All American Boy."

Will learns from Nurse Spex that not everybody gets powers, and there rare cases of those who have both parents having superpowers but do not inherit any superpowers, such as the bus driver, Ron Wilson. The Commander is unaware that his son has been relegated to Hero Support and shows Will his hidden trophy room also known as his "secret sanctum". He is particularly proud of the mysterious weapon, "The Pacifier", which he took from his science-themed nemesis Royal Pain years ago. Unknown to either of them, Royal Pain, who had been presumed dead, watches them from a hidden camera in one of the other trophies, alongside a maniacal sidekick named Stitches.

As Will settles into Sky High and makes friends with the other sidekicks, he comes into conflict with pyrokinetic student Warren Peace, whose supervillain father had been imprisoned by The Commander. During a fight between the two, Will eventually manifests super strength, impressing Gwen Grayson, a beautiful and popular technopath who controls machines with her mind. Will is subsequently transferred to the "Hero" track, and inevitably becomes popular and unable to hang out with his Hero Support friends.

Gwen visits the Strongholds house and asks Wills parents to attend the Homecoming Dance to accept an award for Superhero of the Year, which they accept. Later on, while walking to her house, Gwen asks Will out to Homecoming and, to his delight, becomes his girlfriend. Will then begins spending more time with Gwen and her clique of friends, ignoring the sidekicks and Layla, who reveals to Warren that she has loved Will for a long time.

On the night before the dance, Gwen tricks Will into throwing a party at his house and uses Speed to steal the Pacifier, which goes unseen by Will when he takes her into the secret sanctum. After Gwen lies to Layla, who shows up to investigate the noise and believes the lie, Will breaks up with Gwen, refusing to attend the dance, even though his parents were invited as honored guests. Later, he looks through his fathers old yearbook and sees a student who resembles Gwen holding the Pacifier, which he subsequently discovers has been stolen. Believing that the student is Royal Pain and that Gwen is her daughter, he rushes to the dance.

At the dance party, Gwen reveals that she is actually Royal Pain herself. During her previous confrontation with the Commander, the Pacifier, which is meant to turn its target into an infant, had malfunctioned, turning her into a baby instead, thus faking her suspected death. Raised by Stitches, she has since waited 17 years for revenge. With the help of Stitches, Speed, Lash, and Penny, she takes over the school and uses the Pacifier to turn Wills parents, the faculty and students into babies, and turning it into a supervillain academy and raise them as supervillains.

After returning to school, Will apologizes to Layla and teams up with Warren, the sidekicks, and Ron Wilson to try to save the day. The sidekicks demonstrate their heroism after Royal Pain sabotages the schools anti-gravity drive and their powers come in handy restarting it. Meanwhile, Will discovers that he has Jetstreams powers of flight when he is thrown off the edge of the school grounds and prevents the campus from falling using his two abilities.

Royal Pain and her henchmen are defeated and imprisoned in the detention halls and the faculty and students are returned to their proper ages. His parents thank all of the sidekicks and admit they are heroes. Warren develops a love relationship with Freeze Girl. Will and Layla kiss and a voiceover by Will at the end reveals that they become a couple, he and Warren became best friends, and Ron Wilson gained superhuman powers after falling into a vat of toxic waste, thus becoming a superhero.


2. Cast

  • Danielle Panabaker as Layla Williams, Wills best friend and love interest, who is a pacifist vegetarian and is able to animate and control plant life. Her mothers abilities are said to allow her to talk to animals and her father is a normal human.
  • Michael Angarano as William "Will" Theodore Stronghold, a freshman at Sky High, whose parents are the two most famous superheroes - Commander and Jetstream - as well as Maxvilles top real estate agents in their secret identities. His super strength, inherited from his father, and his ability to fly, inherited from his mother, start as inactive and gradually manifest over the film.
  • Mary Elizabeth Winstead as Gwendolyn "Gwen" Grayson / Royal Pain suit / Sue "Tenny" Tennyson, a senior at Sky High whom Will, along with everyone else, falls in love with. Her power is technopathy. Winstead said of her role, "I bounced around. I was either the hero of the sidekicks or the sidekick to the heroes." When she attended Sky High the first time, no one understood her class of powers and she was slated as a sidekick where an accident with the "Pacifier" de-aged her during a battle with the Commander.
  • Kurt Russell as Steve Stronghold / The Commander, Wills father who is one of the worlds strongest superheroes, displaying superhuman strength and invulnerability, and is a successful businessman in his secret identity. In a deleted scene, it is revealed that Steve was an investigative reporter who seeks to change his career before becoming a real estate agent.
  • Patrick Warburton provides the voice of Gwen in her Royal Pain suit.
  • Kelly Preston as Josie DeMarco-Stronghold / Jetstream, Wills mother and a successful real estate agent. As Jetstream, she uses the power of supersonic flight; she is also touted as being an expert in hand-to-hand combat.
  • Dee Jay Daniels as Ethan Bank, a sidekick and one of Wills friends who can melt into a fluid which earned him the nickname "Popsicle".
  • Kim Rhodes as Professor Jeannie Elast / Elastic Girl, a girl who has the talent to twist her body into anything she wants. Her character was never shown in the final cut of the film.
  • Will Harris as Speed, an overweight bully at Sky who can run at an extremely high speed.
  • Dustin Ingram as Carbon Copy Kid, a boy that can make himself look like anyone.
  • Cloris Leachman as Nurse Spex, a kind and eccentric elderly lady that serves as Sky Highs single known school nurse, with the ability of X-ray vision. She is the one who tells Will that not everybody gets powers even if they are the child of two superheroes.
  • Tom Kenny and Jill Talley as Mr. and Mrs. Chester Timmerman, a couple who witnesses Will prevent Sky High from falling on their home.
  • Bruce Campbell as Tommy Boomowski / Coach Boomer / Sonic Boom, the gym teacher at Sky High who has his ability to release sonic waves from his vocal cords which can be listed as sonic screaming. His real name is listed as Tommy Boomowski in the Commanders Sky High Yearbook. Coach Boomers job is to sort the superheroes from the sidekicks and oversee the civilian rescue exercise.
  • Malika Haqq and Khadijah Haqq as Penny Lent, Gwens best friend who duplicates herself and is naturally athletic.
  • Kevin Heffernan as Ron Wilson, Sky Highs good-hearted bus driver. He is the offspring of two super-powered parents, just like Will Stronghold is the offspring of the Commander and Jetstream, but does not have any powers. He feels a great sense of pride in driving the "superheroes of tomorrow" to school. It is revealed at the end of the film that he fell into a vat of toxic waste, gaining superpowers of his own.
  • Dave Foley as Jonathan Boy / All-American Boy, The Commanders old sidekick who works as Hero Support teacher at Sky High.
  • Nicole Malgarini as Freeze Girl, a girl with cryokinetic powers.
  • Jim Rash as Mr. Grayson / Stitches, Royal Pains bumbling cackling sidekick. He raised her as his daughter after she was turned into a baby by the Pacifier.
  • Jake Sandvig and Will Harris as Lash, a skinny bully at Sky High who has elasticity.
  • Lynda Carter as Principal Powers, the principal of Sky High who has the power to change into a luminous energy form resembling a comet and back at will.
  • Kevin McDonald as Professor Medulla, The Mad Science teacher with a hyper-advanced and oversized brain, which grants him advanced intelligence, creativity and a multitude of genius-level skills.
  • Steven Strait as Warren Peace a pun on "War and Peace", the son of an unnamed superheroine and a supervillain known as Baron Battle who is in jail with four life sentences. He is pyrokinetic. Warren is a high school outcast who tries to lead a decent life, but often misunderstood due to being a son of felonious father.
  • Nicholas Braun as Zachary "Zach" Braun / Zack Attack, Wills childhood friend who has the latent ability to glow in the dark.
  • Kelly Vitz as Magenta "Maj" Lewis, One of Wills friends who shapeshifts into a guinea pig with purple highlights and streaks in her fur.
  • Loren Berman as Larry, a nerdy boy who can turn into a rock monster.

3. Production

Exterior shots of the Sky High school were filmed at the Oviatt Library at California State University in Northridge.

In between working on the first and second seasons of the animated series Kim Possible, creators Bob Schooley and Mark McCorkle had begun writing a script for a live-action adaptation, which ultimately never came to fruition due to unknown reasons. Impressed with their work, the filmmakers asked them to look into re-writing the script for Sky High, which had been previously shelved. McCorkle believes they were recruited for Sky High because "they liked the idea of a superhero high school. I think, reading how we wrote teens in Kim Possible, they felt like, This feels good and contemporary, and maybe you can apply that to this project for us. Similar to Kim Possibl e, Schooley and McCorkle wrote Sky High to be equally appealing to both children and adults. According to, Disney was attracted by the "original concept" of "children of superheroes going to high school", originally conceived by screenwriter Paul Hernandez in the 1990s.

After recruiting comedy writers creators of Kim Possible for polishing Hernandezs script they only wrote the beginning and ending sequences Disney hired several comedians such as Kevin McDonald, Dave Foley, and Kevin Heffernan for supporting roles. For the main roles, the casting was a mix of established and new teenager actors: while Michael Angarano and Mary Elizabeth Winstead were already successful, Danielle Panabaker was little-known and Steven Strait a former model was hired after his first audition ever.

Director Mike Mitchell said that Sky High functions on two premises: "the adults are all insane" and "the girls are smarter than the boys": Therefore, all the adults portrayed in the film tend to be caricatured, while the teenage girls are written as more assertive and powerful than the boys. For the treatment of the teenage actors, Mitchell also stated that the actors all had their own trailer and were generally kept separated, because "we did not want them to date after the second week and break up after the fourth", which would have made filming difficult.

Mitchell, a science fiction fan, admitted that this project "was a dream", because it brought him together with four of his favorite SF cult heroes: namely Wonder Woman popularized in the eponymous 1970s television series by actress Lynda Carter, Snake Plissken portrayed by Kurt Russell, Ash Williams from Evil Dead, played by Bruce Campbell and Cloris Leachman, who earned fame as Frau Blucher in Young Frankenstein ; and worked with Lynda Carter before in the pilot movie episode for the Wonder Woman TV Series playing Hippolyta opposite Lynda Carter who played Wonder Woman herself.


4.1. Reception Box office

Commercially it was a success: on an estimated budget of US$35 million, it earned just under $64 million in the US alone, and another $22 million internationally, bringing the total to just over $86 million.


4.2. Reception Critical response

Sky High received generally favorable reviews. On Rotten Tomatoes the film has an approval rating of 73% based on reviews from 131 critics, with an average rating of 6.5/10. The sites critical consensus states: "This highly derivative superhero coming-of-age flick is moderately entertaining, family-friendly fluff." On Metacritic the film has a weighted average score of 62% based on reviews from 29 critics, indicating "generally favorable reviews". Audiences surveyed by CinemaScore gave the film a grade A- on a scale of A+ to F.

Joe Leydon of Variety magazine praised the film calling it: "Smartly written and sprightly played," Sky High” satisfies with a clever commingling of spoofy superheroics, school-daze hijinks" and "this lively live-action Disney release stands on its own merits as a tongue-in-cheek fantasy with cross-generational appeal." Neil Smith at wrote: "While originality is hardly the films strongest suit, its agreeable mix of knowing spoof and kid-pleasing fantasy makes it considerably more engaging than some of the straight superhero blockbusters weve suffered recently."


5. Soundtrack

The Sky High Original Soundtrack was released by Hollywood Records on July 26, 2005, and is composed of covers of songs from the 1980s with the exception of "Just What I Needed", which was from the late 1970s. While none of Michael Giacchinos score was included on the song album, a limited edition of his score was issued by Intrada Records in 2017.

Track listing
  • "I Melt with You" – Bowling for Soup Originally by: Modern English - 4:03
  • "Voices Carry" – Vitamin C Originally by: Til Tuesday - 4:16
  • "Cant Stop the World" – Ginger Sling Originally by: The Go-Gos - 3:25
  • "Just What I Needed" – Caleigh Peters Originally by: The Cars - 3:38
  • "One Thing Leads to Another" – Steven Strait Originally by: The Fixx - 3:10
  • "Please, Please, Please, Let Me Get What I Want" – Elefant Originally by: The Smiths - 2:53
  • "Save It for Later" – Flashlight Brown Originally by: The Beat - 2:49
  • "And She Was" – Keaton Simons Originally by: Talking Heads - 3:49
  • "Lies" – The Click Five Originally by: Thompson Twins - 2:58
  • "Twist and Crawl" – Skindred Originally by: The Beat - 2:31
  • "Through Being Cool" – They Might Be Giants Originally by: Devo - 3:17
  • "True" – Cary Brothers Originally by: Spandau Ballet - 5:11
  • "Everybody Wants to Rule the World" – Christian Burns Originally by: Tears for Fears - 4:28


5.1. Soundtrack Reception

AllMusic rated the album 2.5/5, saying that it "stumbles more than it succeeds" and is "painfully conventional."


6. Home media

The film was released in separate widescreen and full screen format editions on DVD on November 29, 2005. It was the first Disney movie ever released on home video to never have a VHS release. It was also released on high definition Blu-ray for an original widescreen presentation on November 21, 2006.


7. Possible sequel and TV series

In November 2016, it was announced that Disney is developing a sequel to Sky High, and that the film is in early development stages. In January 2019, Mike Mitchell revealed about earlier plans to make a franchise; but due to the films box-office performance, nothing came to be. A sequel to the film would have been called Save U as in Save University and would have featured the characters graduating high school and attending college. There were also plans to make a TV series. Everyone, except for Kurt Russell and Kelly Preston, had signed on to return.