Sky High (2005 film)

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Sky High
Sky High movie poster.jpg
Theatrical release poster
Directed byMike Mitchell
Written by
Produced byAndrew Gunn
CinematographyShelly Johnson
Edited byPeter Amundson
Music byMichael Giacchino
Distributed byBuena Vista Pictures Distribution
Release date
  • July 29, 2005 (2005-07-29)[1]
Running time
100 minutes
CountryUnited States
Budget$35 million[2]
Box office$86.4 million[3]

Sky High is a 2005 American superhero comedy film directed by Mike Mitchell and written by Paul Hernandez and Kim Possible creators Bob Schooley and Mark McCorkle. The film stars Michael Angarano, Danielle Panabaker, Mary Elizabeth Winstead, Kelly Preston and Kurt Russell. It also features Bruce Campbell, Cloris Leachman, Jim Rash, Steven Strait, Lynda Carter, Dave Foley and Kevin McDonald. It tells the story of Will Stronghold, the son of two superheroes who is enrolled in an airborne high school for teenage superheroes where his powers kick in; he must deal with a growing distance from his old friends, a threat from a mysterious supervillain and get the girl of his dreams.

The film was released to theaters on July 29, 2005, and grossed $86.4 million worldwide on a $35 million budget.[3] It received generally postive reviews from critics and the public.


Will Stronghold is hesitant to start his first year in Sky High, a covert, perpetually airborne school for the children of superheroes. While his parents, Steve and Josie, are the world's premiere superheroes under the aliases of "The Commander" and "Jetstream", respectively, Will himself has not developed any superhuman abilities. This is a source of extreme anxiety for him since powers are often hereditary and he feels the burden to live up to his family's reputation. On his first day at school, Will and his best friend Layla, who possesses powerful plant-controlling abilities, make friends with several new students, including Zach, Ethan and Magenta, as well as friendly bus driver Ron Wilson (who has always dreamed of having super powers), while fending off the hazing by popular seniors, Speed, Lash and Penny. During hero training, their instructor divides the groups into "Hero" or "Sidekick" based on their powers, and Will is quickly humiliated when he cannot manifest any abilities. Layla refuses to take the test, so they and their friends are placed into "Hero Support" (specialized classes for sidekicks) and realize that they are on the bottom of the clique-based social order. Even so, Will finds some comfort with their new teacher, Mr. Boy (formerly the Commander's sidekick, the "All-American Boy"), who shows them that there is honor in working behind the scenes, even if there is little glory.

Will's parents initially assume that he has been accepted into the "hero" courses and welcome him into the family's "secret sanctum", telling Will about their first team-up to stop the villain, "Royal Pain", and his superweapon, "the Pacifier", which is now a prized trophy. When Will confesses that he is in "hero support", his parents suppress their disappointment and do their best to be supportive. Will slowly begins to enjoy his new peer group and "hero support" training.

After several months, Will is manipulated into a fight with pyrokinetic student Warren Peace; the battle is initially one-sided until Warren threatens his friends and Will's latent superhuman strength emerges. While impressing most students, Will and Warren get detention and the two agree to a grudging truce. Due to school policy, the faculty push to move Will into "hero" classes; with Mr. Boy and his peers' encouragement, Will agrees and joins the more powerful and popular students. There, he meets technopath Gwen Grayson, the student body president and the school's most popular girl, becoming distanced and alienated from his former peers. Gwen visits the Stronghold's house, inviting Will's parents to attend the school's Homecoming Dance party, and eventually invites Will as well, wishing to become his girlfriend, which Will accepts. Noticing the growing rift between herself and Will, Layla attempts going out more with Warren in an attempt to arouse jealousy, revealing to him she has been secretly in love with Will for a long time.

Gwen convinces Will to host a pre-Homecoming dance party at his home; there, he attempts to impress her by taking her into the secret sanctum and they kiss, but someone discretely steals the Pacifier. As Layla comes to the house to investigate the noise and discovers the party, she confronts Gwen who manipulates Layla into abandoning Will. Shortly after, Will realizes that he is being used and breaks up with Gwen. Unable to reconcile with Layla, he refuses to attend the dance and chooses to remain at home, even though his parents were invited as honored guests. At the sanctum, he looks at his family's school yearbook and discovers entries for Sue Tenny, a technopath sidekick from science club holding the Pacifier; Will then notices that Tenny strongly resembles Gwen before discovering that the Pacifier itself missing. He deduces that Gwen is related to Tenny and used the party as a ruse to acquire it.

At Homecoming, Gwen reveals that she is Royal Pain to the stunned students and teachers of Sky High. Her "father" (actually her former sidekick, Stitches), Speed, Lash and Penny reveal that they are her henchmen, and proceed to regress all teachers and students into infants. Layla, Warren, Zach, Ethan and Magenta escape and resist; arriving too late, Will makes amends with Layla and the others and the sidekicks effectively engage the henchmen while Will confronts Gwen herself. Gwen explains that she is Sue Tenney and was ostracized in "sidekick" classes for her powers that were ahead of their time; she developed the Pacifier to transform adults into infants with the goal of raising them a second time as villains, but due to the Commander and Jetstream's interference, was subject to the ray herself and forced to relive her childhood as Gwen until she could take her revenge. During the fight, Royal Pain throws Will from the school to fall to his death; however, his flying powers emerge in the process, saving him. She then sabotages the school's anti-gravity device, putting the school in freefall until Will and his friends restore it and restrain her.

Will and his friends de-pacify the teachers and students, who finally recognize the sidekicks and their deeds; Gwen and her gang are sent to detention and later to prison for their crimes. In the closing narration, Will explains that his girlfriend (Gwen) became his archenemy, his archenemy (Warren) became his best friend, and his best friend (Layla) became his girlfriend stating, "but hey, that's high school."

In an end credit scene, it is revealed that Ron fell into a vat of acid and was given super powers.


  • 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 Maxville's 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.
  • Danielle Panabaker as Layla Williams, Will's childhood best friend and later girlfriend, who is a pacifist and is able to animate and control plant life. Her mother's abilities are said to allow her to talk to animals and her father is a normal human.
  • Mary Elizabeth Winstead as Gwendolyn "Gwen" Grayson / Royal Pain (suit actress) / Susan "Sue" Tenny, 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."[4] When she attended Sky High the first time, no one understood her class of powers and she was slated as a sidekick and a weirdo, eventually turning into a supervillain. An accident with the "Pacifier" de-aged her during a battle with The Commander.
    • Patrick Warburton provides the voice of Gwen in her Royal Pain suit. Winstead also serves as the suit actress of Gwen in her Royal Pain suit.
  • Steven Strait as Warren 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 is often misunderstood due to being a son of a felonious father. His name is a pun of the novel, War and Peace.
  • Dee Jay Daniels as Ethan Bank, a sidekick and one of Will's friends who can melt into a fluid (which earned him the nickname "Popsicle").
  • Kelly Vitz as Magenta "Maj" Lewis, one of Will's friends who shapeshifts into a guinea pig with purple highlights and streaks in her fur.
  • Nicholas Braun as Zachary "Zach" Braun / Zack Attack, Will's childhood friend who has the latent ability to glow in the dark.
  • Malika Haqq and Khadijah Haqq as Penny Lent, Gwen's best friend who duplicates herself and is naturally athletic.
  • Jake Sandvig as Lash, a skinny bully at Sky High who has elasticity.
  • Will Harris as Speed, an overweight bully at Sky High who can run at an extremely high speed.
  • 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. Her catchphrase is "Comets away".
  • 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 Commander's Sky High Yearbook. Coach Boomer's job is to sort the superheroes from the sidekicks and oversee the civilian rescue exercise.
  • Kevin Heffernan as Ron Wilson, Sky High's good-hearted bus driver. He is the son of two superheroes, 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.
  • Kurt Russell as Steve Stronghold / The Commander, Will's father who is one of the world's 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.
  • Kelly Preston as Josie DeMarco-Stronghold / Jetstream, Will's 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.
  • Cloris Leachman as Nurse Spex, a kind and eccentric elderly lady that serves as Sky High's 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.
  • Jim Rash as Mr. Grayson / Stitches, Royal Pain's bumbling cackling sidekick. He raised her as his daughter after she was turned into a baby by the "Pacifier".
  • Dave Foley as Jonathan Boy / All-American Boy, The Commander's old sidekick who works as Hero Support teacher at Sky High.
  • 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.
  • Tom Kenny and Jill Talley as Mr. and Mrs. Chester Timmerman, a couple who witnesses Will prevent Sky High from falling on their new home.
  • Loren Berman as Larry, a nerdy boy who can turn into a rock monster.
  • Dustin Ingram as Carbon Copy Kid, a boy that can make himself look like anyone.
  • Nicole Malgarini as Freeze Girl, a girl with cryokinetic powers.

Kim Rhodes had a role as Professor Jeannie Elast / Elastic Girl, a girl who has the talent to twist her body into anything she wants, but her role was cut from the final film.


Oviatt Library at CSU Northridge

Exterior shots of the Sky High school were filmed at the Oviatt Library[5] at California State University in Northridge in late 2004.[6]

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.[7] Impressed with their work, the filmmakers asked them to look into re-writing the script for Sky High, which had been previously shelved.[7] 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.'[7] Similar to Kim Possible, Schooley and McCorkle wrote Sky High to be equally appealing to both children and adults.[7] 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.[8]

After recruiting comedy writers (creators of Kim Possible) for polishing Hernandez's 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.[8] 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.[8]

Director Mike Mitchell said that Sky High functions on two premises: "the adults are all insane" and "the girls are smarter than the boys":[9] 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. The film also employed extensive usage of Dutch angles. 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.[9]

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 Blücher 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.[8]


Sky High (Original Soundtrack)
Soundtrack album by
Various Artists
ReleasedJuly 26, 2005
LabelHollywood Records
Singles from Sky High (Original Soundtrack)
  1. "I Melt with You"
    Released: 2005
Professional ratings
Review scores

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 1978). While none of Michael Giacchino's score was included on the song album, a limited edition of his score was issued by Intrada Records in 2017.[11]

Track listing
  1. "I Melt with You" – Bowling for Soup (Originally by: Modern English) - 4:03
  2. "Through Being Cool" – They Might Be Giants (Originally by: Devo) - 3:17
  3. "Save It for Later" – Flashlight Brown (Originally by: The Beat) - 2:49
  4. "Everybody Wants to Rule the World" – Christian Burns (Originally by: Tears for Fears) - 4:28
  5. "One Thing Leads to Another" – Steven Strait (Originally by: The Fixx) - 3:10
  6. "Lies" – The Click Five (Originally by: Thompson Twins) - 2:58
  7. "Voices Carry" – Vitamin C (Originally by: 'Til Tuesday) - 4:16
  8. "Please, Please, Please, Let Me Get What I Want" – Elefant (Originally by: The Smiths) - 2:53
  9. "True" – Cary Brothers (Originally by: Spandau Ballet) - 5:11
  10. "Just What I Needed" – Caleigh Peters (Originally by: The Cars) - 3:38
  11. "Can't Stop the World" – Ginger Sling (Originally by: The Go-Go's) - 3:25
  12. "And She Was" – Keaton Simons (Originally by: Talking Heads) - 3:49
  13. "Twist and Crawl" – Skindred (Originally by: The Beat) - 2:31


AllMusic rated the album 2.5/5, saying that it "stumbles more than it succeeds" and is "painfully conventional."[10]


Home media[edit]

The film was released in separate widescreen and full screen format editions on DVD on November 29, 2005. It was also released on VHS but only through Disney Movie Club, making it the final live-action Disney film to be released on VHS. It was also released on high definition Blu-ray for an original widescreen presentation on November 21, 2006.


Box office[edit]

On an estimated budget of US$ 35 million,[2] the film grossed just under $64 million in the US, and another $22 million internationally, bringing the total to $86 million.[3]

Critical response[edit]

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 site's critical consensus states: "This highly derivative superhero coming-of-age flick is moderately entertaining, family-friendly fluff."[12] On Metacritic the film has a weighted average score of 62 based on reviews from 29 critics, indicating "generally favorable reviews".[13] Audiences surveyed by CinemaScore gave the film a grade A− on a scale of A+ to F.[14]

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."[15] Neil Smith at wrote: "While originality is hardly the film's strongest suit, its agreeable mix of knowing spoof and kid-pleasing fantasy makes it considerably more engaging than some of the 'straight' superhero blockbusters we've suffered recently."[16]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ "Detail view of Movies Page". Retrieved December 21, 2015.
  2. ^ a b "Sky High (2005)". The Numbers. Retrieved May 7, 2020.
  3. ^ a b c "Sky High (2005)". Box Office Mojo. Retrieved December 21, 2015. Cite error: The named reference "BOMSkyHigh" was defined multiple times with different content (see the help page).
  4. ^ "Sky Kids Have Hero Issues Archived April 21, 2009, at," (22-JULY-05).
  5. ^ "Oviatt Library". Retrieved October 4, 2014.
  6. ^ "University Licensing". California State University, Northridge. Retrieved December 21, 2015.
  7. ^ a b c d Liu, Ed (February 9, 2007). "Toon Zone Interviews Bob Schooley & Mark McCorkle on Kim Possible Season 4". Anime Superhero News. Retrieved November 18, 2019.
  8. ^ a b c d "Kurt Russell and company go back to high school to learn what it means to be super in Sky High". Archived from the original on April 22, 2009. Retrieved October 4, 2014.
  9. ^ a b Sky High DVD extras
  10. ^ a b Sky High at AllMusic
  11. ^ "Sky High".
  12. ^ "Sky High (2005)". Rotten Tomatoes. Fandango. Retrieved October 6, 2021. Edit this at Wikidata
  13. ^ "Sky High". Metacritic.
  14. ^ "Cinemascore". Archived from the original on December 20, 2018.
  15. ^ Joe Leydon (July 27, 2005). "Sky High". Variety magazine.
  16. ^ Neil Smith (September 18, 2005). "BBC - Movies - review - Sky High".

External links[edit]