Sky High (2005)

(In theaters, August 2005) Every summer has a pleasant surprise or two, and to my mind this is the sleeper film no one was expecting. Made with a tight budget, cheap special effects and a decent script, Sky High shares a number of common preoccupations with The Incredibles (especially the “superhero family” vibe) but stands on its own as a witty hybrid between superhero films and teenage comedy. It goes along much better than expected thanks to some good supporting roles from Kurt Russell, Dave Foley, Bruce Campbell and Lynda Carter. The script has weak patches (especially the “yearbook reveal” slip-up, which pretty much gives away the rest of the film), but its sharp dialogue and steady rhythm keeps it chugging along nicely. The lead actors are suitably sympathetic, and the film at least has a rudimentary sense of its place in genre history. Is it any accident if the only worthwhile superhero films these days are those which tinker at least a bit with the concept, from The Incredibles to Batman Begins? In any case, I tend to think of Sky High as this year’s Bring It On or Mean Girls: a fun teen film fit for more demanding audiences, with plenty of charm and good jokes to tell.

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