Sky High (2005 film)

Sky High (2005 film)

Infobox Film
name = Sky High

caption = Theatrical release poster
director = Mike Mitchell
producer = Andrew Gunn
writer = Mark McCorkle
starring = Michael Angarano
Kevin Heffernan
Danielle Panabaker
Kurt Russell
Kelly Preston
Steven Strait
Mary Elizabeth Winstead
music = Michael Giacchino
cinematography = Shelly Johnson
editing = Peter Amundson
distributor = Walt Disney Pictures
released = July 29, 2005
runtime = 100 min.
country = United States of America
language = English
budget = $35 million
gross = $86,369,815
website =
imdb_id = 0405325

"Sky High" is a 2005 superhero film from Walt Disney Pictures. It was directed by Mike Mitchell and was written by Paul Hernandez, Robert Schooley, and Mark McCorkle.

This film was rated PG by the MPAA for "action violence and some mild language".

Plot summary

"Sky High" is the story of fourteen-year-old Will Stronghold (Michael Angarano), the son of two famous superheroes: Steve and Josie Stronghold (Kurt Russell and Kelly Preston), a.k.a. the incredibly strong, seemingly invulnerable Commander, and the high-speed flying Jetstream. Will and his best friend Layla (Danielle Panabaker), who can manipulate plants, attend a school in the sky for superheroes called "Sky High", despite the fact Will has no superpowers and is hiding this fact from his parents.

In "power placement," Will and Layla are deemed sidekicks, which Will keeps secret from his parents (since sidekicks are considered misfits). After developing close friendships with other sidekicks, Will's power of super-strength emerges in a fight with Warren Peace, son of Baron Battle, one of the world's greatest Super Villians, a loner and pyrokinetic. That night, Will is introduced to his parents' Secret Sanctum (their superhero headquarters), where the evil Royal Pain spies on them through a hidden camera. Will is switched from "Sidekick" to "Hero" class, engendering fears among his friends that he will abandon them. In Mad Science, Will is partnered with rich girl Gwen Grayson (Mary Elizabeth Winstead), a technopath. Will quickly starts to fall for Gwen, while his old friends' fears become increasingly justified. Meanwhile, Will becomes increasingly popular, largely due to his newfound powers.

After making a date with Layla to hang out at her favorite restaurant, Will accidentally stands her up when Gwen offers to help him with his homework that night. She ends up staying for dinner at the Stronghold residence. During which she asks The Commander and Jetstream to the homecoming dance to receive an award. Afterwards, Will walks her home where she ends up asking him to the homecoming dance. At the restaurant Layla runs into Warren, who has a job there. He convinces her to reveal her real feelings to Will and ask him to Homecoming.

The next morning, Will tells Layla the news, which clearly surprises her. Instead of asking him to the dance as she had planned, she claims to be going to the dance with Warren, to make Will jealous. That night, after a study session Gwen asks Will if the committee for the dance can gather at his place for an emergency meeting, which erupts into an out-of-control party. During the party, Will admits Gwen into the Secret Sanctum against his parents' rules. As Will and Gwen are kissing, the Pacifier (a weapon invented by Will's father's archnemesis, Royal Pain) is stolen without Will's knowledge. Layla arrives at Will's house, only to be insulted by Gwen. Layla storms away and Will rejects Gwen as a result. He tries to contact Layla, but she refuses to answer the phone. He leaves her a message to meet him at the Paper Lantern, their favourite restaurant. Layla never shows up and Will ends up talking to Warren, who's working there, and Warren hands out some of his "fortune cookie" advice. Eventually, realizing that he's been a jerk to his friends he decides not to go to homecoming at all.

At home, the night of the homecoming dance, Will stumbles over an old Sky High yearbook, noticing Gwen in it under the name "Sue Tenny," and realizes that the Pacifier has been stolen. At the dance, Gwen reveals herself to be Royal Pain, and that she was turned into a baby by the Pacifier and raised again by her henchman. She begins turning the students and faculty into babies, plotting to raise them as villains. Will arrives at Sky High with his bus driver, Ron Wilson, and goes to stop Gwen.

Arriving at the party, Will forms an unlikely alliance with Warren. Together, Layla, Warren and Will's sidekick friends dispatch Gwen's student lackeys. Will engages in battle with Royal Pain, but when he is thrown out the window of the floating Sky High building, his second ability, flight, emerges, allowing Will to defeat her. Gwen is put into a lifetime of detention, Will and Layla start dating, Warren and Will become best friends, and all of the sidekicks are cheered as heroes, including Ron Wilson.



* Michael Angarano as William "Will" Theodore Stronghold: Angarano portrays Will, a freshman at Sky High. His parents are the two most famous superheroes of the day, the Commander and Jetstream, but he himself has no powers, which worries him (later in the movie, however, he obtains the powers of super strength and flight). He wears red, white, and blue throughout the movie. Like other characters, this is the costume that defines him. On Will Stronghold, Angarano stated: "I love Will because I think he's the complete ‘average Joe' who goes to high school and it's really easy to relate to him and it's really easy to kind of envision him... Will has the greatest superheroes on the planet, maybe the history of the planet as parents and he doesn't even have a spec of superhero ability and so that stress he's going through, I can't even imagine it." He related to the awkwardness Will experienced via his own experiences when he changed schools. [ Michael Angarano Interview] ] Angarano said it was his first big lead role, and it was vital to "have your head in every scene and just kind of take it play by play." According to Angarano, if he could choose a superpower, it would be flight. He also has a poster of The Aquabats! in his bedroom.

* Danielle Panabaker as Layla Williams: Panabaker plays Layla, Will's best friend who can control (and speak to) plants; they have been best friends since childhood. She is a pacifist and a vegetarian. Panabaker has stated: "I love Layla; she's such a great character. She doesn't follow the rules, she makes them. That's great to have that confidence to go into high school which is already such a ferocious place and she's very nurturing and she's a shoulder for Will to lean on and what he's going through." [ INTERVIEW: Michael Angarano and Danielle Panabaker Talk Sky High] ] She also admitted that she considers herself a classical "sidekick" and the opposite of confident, assertive Layla: "I can be Layla who knows what it's all about; she knows she doesn't eat meat, she knows she loves Will, and she's got it figured out. I never know any of those things." Early in the movie she mentions that her mother has the powers to talk to animals (who don't like to be eaten). She wears mostly green, connecting to the fact that she is very pro-earth.

* Mary Elizabeth Winstead as Gwen Grayson (Royal Pain / Sue Tenny): Winstead portrays Gwen, a senior at Sky High; Will has a crush on her. However, she is, in fact, the Stronghold family's nemesis Royal Pain, and was laughed off a generation ago as the prototypical school geek despite her skills as a technopath. As Royal Pain, her clothes are primarily pink, purple and gray. While wearing her Royal Pain armor, Gwen's voice is heavily distorted into a bass tone (performed by Patrick Warburton) similar to Anakin Skywalker wearing his Darth Vader armor. Winstead also "loved the script" and liked to be a villain: "love my character's transformation. She's the good girl/bad girl. I was neither a sidekick or hero in school. I bounced around. I was the hero of the sidekicks or the sidekick to the heroes."

* Steven Strait as Warren Peace: (name is a play on the book War and Peace) Strait portrays Warren, the son of an unnamed superheroine and a supervillain known as Baron Battle (who is mentioned to be in jail with several life sentences). He has the ability to conjure fire. According to the DVD track, it was his first big-screen appearance, and Strait was noted by Angarano for his powerful, menacing physique."Sky High" DVD extras] Director Mike Mitchell added that Strait was not only tough, but had a smile which made all the girls on set swoon when Strait (as Warren) was soothing Layla (Panabaker)."Sky High" DVD extras] In an interview, he said "I read the script and really liked it", but at first had to get used to the fact that he had to play a character who was shown to be burning all the time: "I was always aware that I was throwing flames out of my arms, and there was nothing there, obviously. It was something I had to get used to, flailing your arms and nothing is there. It was odd." He is nick-named 'Hot-head' by Coach Boomer.

* Dee Jay Daniels as Ethan: A Hero Support who is friends with Will, he can melt into a small puddle (which earned him the nickname "Popsicle"). He is quiet and often the butt of practical jokes. His clothes are primarily orange. On the DVD, Daniels was described as the "total opposite" of Ethan, very lively and often playing practical jokes himself on others.

* Kelly Vitz as Magenta/Maj: Vitz plays Magenta, Will's friend whose ability is to shapeshift into a guinea pig complete with purple highlights/streaks in her fur. She does not like to be pushed around. Her clothes, as well as her guinea pig form, are primarily purple and black.

* Nicholas Braun as Zach Braun/Zack Attack: Will's spacey friend, who has the ability to glow in the dark. He has a crush on Magenta. His clothes are primarily white and yellow.

* Malika and Khadijah Haqq as Penny: the two Haqq twins play Gwen's best friend, who can replicate herself and is therefore the entire cheerleading team. Her clothes are primarily orange and blue and resemble cheerleading uniforms. The twins proclaimed, very tongue-in-cheek, that they possessed the ultimate superpower, namely to make the extras in the Sky High bleachers scream "and" be quiet at the gesture of their arms.

* Jake Sandvig as Lash and Will Harris as Speed: Sandvig and Harris portray Lash and Speed, the resident bullies at Sky High. Lash is skinny, and can stretch his body parts, while Speed is overweight yet can run extremely fast. Their superpowers are elasticity and superspeed respectively. Their clothes consistently feature black and white striped arms. In the film's climax, where both bullies work for Royal Pain, Lash has his elastisized head stuck in a toilet, mimicking the torture he put upon the sidekicks. Speed is shoved halfway into a wall with his bottom lit on fire by Warren Peace. According to the DVD, Sandvig and Harris also regularly hung out together off set.


* Kurt Russell as Steve Stronghold/The Commander: Russell portrays Will's father. As the Commander, he is one of the world's strongest superheroes, displaying super-strength and durability, and a successful businessman in his secret identity. As the Commander, he wears a red, white, and blue costume. The castle logo on his chest presumably represents a stronghold, in reference to his real name. Russell stated that he liked the script, thought it "had the potential to be a sleeper" and be funny for children, teens and adults alike. [ Kurt Russell Flies High Again for Disney] ] According to Russell, the issue about Steve was that he was arrogant and egotistic, but yet a loving and good father, and also believable as a real character: "To me he's a buffoon who loves his son so much and loves his wife so much and he's just such a good man, and he's so proud of himself that the only difficulty in his life is the constant awareness of trying to remain humble... What's fun about this character is that he's real. He's not a comic book character."

* Kelly Preston as Josie Stronghold/Jetstream: Preston portrays Will's mother, Josie Stronghold, a successful real estate agent. As Jetstream, she can fly and is touted as being an expert in hand-to-hand combat. She wears glasses as Josie and a red, white, and blue costume as Jetstream. What Preston liked about the film most was its "unique concept", namely "to play parents who happen to be super heroes and have a son who is going through puberty and starting high school. I thought that the messages in this movie were so great... We experienced the cliques, the attempts to make the right decisions, how to keep our integrity. The film examines friendship... One of the messages is that anybody can be a hero and this film is full of great messages... and I think that just adds so much to the entertainment, is fun and it is light and is upbeat." [ [ SKY HIGH Q&A with KELLY PRESTON] ] She admitted that the Jetstream costume was "a guilty pleasure": "It was definitely a lot of fun to step into the boots and costume, put on the cape, and then also get to fly." " [ [ Interview: Kelly Preston for "Sky High"] ]

* Lynda Carter as Principal Powers: Carter, once the quintessential female TV superhero as Wonder Woman, portrays the principal of Sky High. She appears to have the power to transform into a comet and back at will, (Her actress comments that "Powers is a comet".) Acknowledging that she is typecast as Wonder Woman, [ [ Lynda Carter for "Sky High" and "The Dukes of Hazzard"] ] Carter lets Powers state "I'm not Wonder Woman, ya know" - a little in-joke to Lynda Carter's role as Wonder Woman in the 1970's TV Show). Her primary colors are light blue and white, though she is only seen in her suits and never in her costume. [ [ "Wonder Woman Linda [sic] Carter Is Principal Powers in Sky High"] , "Softpedia News", July 29, 2005, retrieved September 6, 2006] Carter herself was grateful for being spared, and often poked fun of Preston and Russell when they had to wear their uncomfortable super hero suits.

* Bruce Campbell as Coach Boomer/Sonic Boom: Campbell portrays the gym teacher at Sky High, also known as Sonic Boom due to his ability to release sonic waves from his vocal cords, which he conveniently uses to bark at any student who doesn't live up to his expectations.

* Kevin Heffernan as Ron Wilson - Bus Driver: Heffernan plays The Sky High bus driver/pilot. Ron is the son of two superheroes but does not have any powers himself. He feels a great sense of pride in driving the "superheroes of tomorrow" to school. At the end of the film, it is stated that he falls into a vat of toxic waste, gains powers (it appears that his power is either being giant or becoming giant) and begins working for the mayor to save the city from giant robots.

* Cloris Leachman as Nurse Spex: Leachman portrays Nurse Spex, a kind and eccentric elderly lady that serves as Sky High's single known nurse, with the ability of X ray vision. According to Mitchell, Leachman's performances were "absolutely hilarious".

* Jim Rash as Mr. Grayson/Stitches: Rash portrays Royal Pain's bumbling sidekick, and Gwen Grayson/Sue Tenney's "father", who raised her as his own after she turned into a baby. He wears a jester's outfit.

* Dave Foley as All American Boy/Mr. Boy: The Commander and Jetstream's old Hero Support. He now works as Hero Support teacher at Sky High. He always seems depressed that his greatest accomplishment is just being Commander's sidekick. He also harbors a long-standing crush on Jetstream. His power seems to be super jumping. (Example: when he jumps to catch baby Jetstream, when he jumps to the pipe in the ceiling while the mad science lab misfires.)

* Kevin McDonald as Mr. Medulla: McDonald plays the Mad Science teacher, with super brainpower – so much that even as a baby he is still smarter than the average adult. Both McDonald and Foley (above) come from sketch comedy troupe The Kids in the Hall.

Whole Cast

*Michael Angarano - Will Stronghold
*Kurt Russell - Steve Stronghold/the Commander
*Kelly Preston - Josie Stronghold/Jetstream
*Mary Elizabeth Winstead - Gwen Grayson/Sue Tenny/Royal Pain
*Steven Strait - Warren Peace
*Danielle Panabaker - Layla
*Nicholas Braun - Zach
*Kelly Vitz - Magenta
*Dee Jay Daniels - Ethan
*Jake Sandvig - Lash
*Will Harris - Speed
*Malika - Penny
*Khadija - Penny
*Bruce Campbell - Coach Boomer/Sonic Boom
*Dave Foley - Mr. Boy/All-American Boy
*Kevin McDonald - Mr. Medulla
*Lynda Carter - Principal Powers
*Kevin Heffernan - Ron Wilson, bus driver
*Cloris Leachman - Nurse Spex
*Jim Rash - Mr. Grayson/Stitches
*Patrick Warburton - voice of Royal Pain
*Loren Berman - Little Larry
*Dustin Ingram - Carbon Copy Kid
*Amy Brown - Twin
*Kimmy Brown - Evil Twin
*Nicole Malgarini - Freeze Girl


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. [ Kurt Russell and company go back to high school to learn what it means to be super in Sky High] ] After recruiting comedy writers Mark McCorkle and Bob Schooley for polishing Hernandez's script, Disney hired several comedians like 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 rehearsal ever.

Producer 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.

Finally, science fiction fan Mitchell 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 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 Blücher in "Young Frankenstein".


Sky High, the school in which the film is set, is a high school campus (complete with gymnasium and other buildings) that is placed on a flying metal island. The island is equipped with anti-gravity technology that allows it to hover above the city, at an altitude above the cloud layer so it cannot be seen from the ground. The school constantly changes position, and the location is only known by faculty.

The curriculum at Sky High is strictly for heroes and sidekicks. One's course path is determined by a test that all new students must take. Depending on powers, students are placed as heroes or sidekicks. Heroes take more action-oriented courses like "Foundations of Mad Science" while sidekicks take classes such as "Motorcycle Sidecar Basics" and "Grammar for Sidekicks". Heroes and sidekicks both attend the gym class, which resembles more of an American Gladiators death match arena than a real gym class.

The school is biased toward the heroes, giving them nicer-looking classrooms higher up in the school, whereas the sidekicks' classrooms are apparently in the basement levels, with little light. Apparently after the sidekicks saved the school in spectacular fashion, there were to be reforms for more equitable treatment.

Sky High has extracurricular activities and clubs like regular schools (the yearbook shows that Gwen was a member of the science club). Save the Citizen is a traditional match played with two heroes and two villains. Two are chosen to save a doll-citizen while the other two are to keep them from achieving the said goal. The doll-citizen is hung over a large machine that consists of a number of whirling serrated blades. The rope descends every five seconds for three minutes, after which the citizen will be mulched by the machine. At one time, Mr. Boy remembers with a half-serious glee, the days when they used "real citizens" for the contest.

Filming locations

Exterior shots of the Sky High school were filmed at the Oviatt Library [ [ Oviatt Library] ] at California State University in Northridge. [ [ CSUN Licensing - Facilities Use ] ]

Reception and box office figures

"Sky High" was reviewed favorably in general. On RottenTomatoes, [ [] ] it earned a "fresh" rating of 72% positive reviews (85 positive, 33 negative). Critics on this website were generally favorable on the firmly tongue-in-cheek nature of the film, which knowingly spoofed comic clichés, but others found it too cheesy.Fact|date=February 2007 Commercially, on an estimated budget of $35 million USD, it earned just under $64 million in the USA alone. [ [ Sky High (2005) - Box office / business ] ]

DVD, PSP and Blu-ray Disc release

DVD and PSP UMD were released on 29 November 2005, while the high definition version was released exclusively on Blu-ray Disc format on 21 November 2006 [ [ Sky High (2005) - DVD details for ] ] .


Infobox Album
Name = Sky High Soundtrack
Type = Soundtrack
Artist = Various Artists

Cover size =
Released = July 26, 2005
Recorded =
Genre = Soundtrack
Length =
Label = Hollywood
Reviews =
*Allmusic rating|2.5|5 [ link]

Sky High Original Soundtrack was released on July 26, 2005, and is composed of covers of songs from the 1980s.

Track listing

#"I Melt with You" – Bowling for Soup. ("Originally by: Modern English")
#"Through Being Cool" – They Might Be Giants. ("Originally by: Devo")
#"Save It For Later" – Flashlight Brown. ("Originally by: The Beat")
#"Everybody Wants To Rule The World" – Christian Burns. ("Originally by: Tears for Fears")
#"One Thing Leads To Another" – Steven Strait. ("Originally by: The Fixx")
#"Lies" – The Click Five. ("Originally by: Thompson Twins")
#"Voices Carry" – Vitamin C. ("Originally by: 'Til Tuesday")
#"Please, Please, Please Let Me Get What I Want" – Elefant. ("Originally by: The Smiths")
#"True" – Cary Brothers. ("Originally by: Spandau Ballet")
#"Just What I Needed" – Caleigh Peters. ("Originally by: The Cars")
#"Can't Stop The World" – Ginger Sling. ("Originally by: The Go-Go's")
#"And She Was" – Keaton Simons. ("Originally by: Talking Heads")
#"Twist And Crawl" – Skindred. ("Originally by: The Beat")


External links

* [ Official site]

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