Full disclosure, I LOVE ‘Sky High’! LOVE. IT. I saw it multiple times at the theater. I bought it on DVD for everybody for Christmas. I wore out the soundtrack. But there’s only so much one person can do, and when this sweet, fun Disney teen superhero flick arrived in 2005, it came and went with little fanfare. But there were plans for a sequel and even a follow-up TV series, according to director Mike Mitchell. Mitchell has moved on and is now promoting his latest picture, ‘The LEGO Movie 2: The Second One’. But, when speaking to iO9, he took a minute to reflect on the little superhero movie that couldn’t.
“I am hugely proud of it and they should make it a franchise. In fact the same writers that didn’t get credit on it, [Jonathan] Aibel and [Glenn] Berger, they did a lot of writing on that film, and we have a whole sequel that’s called Save U [which stands for] Save University.”
The movie centered on young Will Stronghold (Michael Angarano), the son of the two most famous superheroes on the planet, The Commander (Kurt Russell) and Jetstream (Kelly Preston), who attended a high school in the clouds dedicated to training the next generation of champions. The only problem? Will doesn’t have any superpowers, a secret he has managed to keep from his proud parents… until now.
Mary Elizabeth Winstead (‘Birds of Prey’) played the alluring Senior Gwen Grayson, who turned out to be the big baddie Royal Pain. Danielle Panabaker, who went on to play Caitlin Snow on ‘The Flash’ portrayed Will’s plant-powered best friend Layla. Will’s arch-rival, played by Steven Strait, was named Warren Peace. (WARREN PEACE!!!)
The film also featured an all-star comedy cast, including Bruce Campbell as the bullying gym teacher Coach Boomer (or Sonic Boom); The Kids in the Hall’s Dave Foley and Kevin McDonald as teachers Mr. Boy (formerly All-American Boy) and Mr. Medula; Broken Lizard’s Doug Heffernan as the bus driver, Ron Wilson; Lynda Carter as Principal Powers (who has the immortal line, “I’m not Wonder Woman, ya know!”); Cloris Leachman (who, fun act, played Wonder Woman’s mother Hippolyta on the ’70s series), as Nurse Spex; and ‘Community’s Jim Rash as Gwen’s “father” Stitches. There was even a blink-or-you’ll-miss-it cameo by ‘SpongeBob Squarepants’ voices Tom Kenny and Jilly Talley.
“Except for Kurt Russell and Kelly Preston, every actor signed a contract to make it into a TV show. That was going to be Disney’s plan. But what happened was, when it came out, it was kind of an underdog that no one knew about. [Also] it came out against Charlie and the Chocolate Factory, the Tim Burton-Johnny Depp one, and then no one knew that March of the Penguins, a documentary, [would become] the hugest family film of all time.”
“If you remember, at the time, comic book fans were not into the jokes. There was the Ben Stiller movie Mystery Men and people were like ‘No, thank you.’ My Super Ex-Girlfriend? That was [another]. A bunch of parodies were happening and the comic book fans were not into it. And I think with Sky High they could tell that we loved comic books, and we’re just having fun in that world. I’m so thankful that everyone noticed it.”
At the time, I wondered if maybe ‘Sky High’ would have been more successful as a Disney Channel Original Movie. The feature film didn’t have the highest budget, as some of the special effects are a little lacking. And the younger cast were all unknowns, who could have become the next Zac Efron or Vanessa Hudgens, in a different context. But alas, that is not what happened in this reality.
Disney could always dust ‘Sky High’ off for a new TV movie or series, perhaps on Disney+. But until then, if you haven’t seen it, track it down. It’s worth it! And the soundtrack, which is all modern (by 2005 standards) remakes of ’80s classics is a BOP.