Making the Grades
High school is tough enough already, but imagine if you had to worry about other issues while negotiating the thorns and flowers of puberty. Such is the case for a select group of teens attending Sky High, a very "special" school for those with budding superhero powers.
Among the freshman is Will Stronghold (Michael Angarano), son of Commander Stronghold (Kurt Russel) and Jetstream (Kelly Preston). Because they are two of the most famous superheroes in the world, Will's reputation precedes him as he steps upon the turf of his parents' Alma Mater. Yet, what his fellow students (and even his mom and dad) don't know is, Will still hasn't discovered his special power.
Being a "late bloomer" in this crowd makes for incredible peer pressure. His other classmates have already found their unique talents, like his best friend Layla (Danielle Panabaker), who has been born with the greenest of thumbs giving her complete control over plant life; Ethan (Dee -Jay Daniels), able to melt into a pool of mush; Zach (Nicholas Braun) who glows when placed in a tight situation; and Magenta (Kelly Vitz), gifted with what some may think is the best power of all-- shape-shifting. The problem is she can only transform into one thing... a purple guinea pig.
First day jitters just get worse when it's time for gym class and Coach Boomer (Bruce Campbell) begins having the kids demonstrate their powers. Based on Boomer's assessment, they are either designated as a "hero" or a "sidekick"--the latter being the group to which Will's friends are ascribed. But for the boy with the super pedigree, high expectations make the situation even more humiliating. The only thing worse is having to reveal his lowly sidekick status to his father.
However, a school rebel inadvertently helps the young man unlock his potential. Warren Peace (Steven Strait), the flame-throwing offspring of a hero mother and a villain father, has a grudge against the Stronghold family. When he decides to take out his hot temper on the cold-footed Will, the confrontation leaves the underdog suddenly bursting with newfound strength--and reassigned to the hero class.
Sadly, the promotion means seeing less of his sidekick friends, however Will gets over any feelings of remorse after meeting his new lab partner Gwen (Mary Elizabeth Winstead), an attractive senior and student body president--with a secret.
For those expecting another teen movie, Sky High rises far above the rest of this genre. The imaginative script parallels jocks and geeks, with the added benefit of providing some great discussion starters and lessons for young audiences. These serious moments come off with grace and style, thanks to a good dose of humor that works for children and grown-ups.
Not falling into the "kids know best" trap, both young and old play necessary roles within this community of characters. For instance, Will learns the importance of trusting his parents, while Ron the bus driver (Kevin Heffernan), an adult who didn't inherit his parents' best genetic traits, demonstrates how you don't need superpowers to make a significant difference.
With virtually no profanity, only a few moments of teen romance, and some superhero violence that's never overdone, Sky High graduates with flying colors for family viewing,
Discussion Ideas After The Movie
Teaching ideas and topics to discuss about Sky High.
In reality, how are heroes and sidekicks determined in your school? Is this a fair classification? Where do you think you fit?
What role does peer pressure play in Will’s life? How did his relationship with Gwen put him and his family at risk? Have you, or your friends, ever been “blinded” by love?
Ron, the bus driver, should have had the benefits of super powers after having two superhero parents. How does he make up for this loss? How can attitude affect our outlook on life?