Sky High (2005 film)

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Sky High
Sky High movie poster.jpg
Theatrical release poster
Directed by Mike Mitchell
Produced by Andrew Gunn
Written by Paul Hernandez
Bob Schooley
Mark McCorkle
Starring Kelly Preston
Michael Angarano
Danielle Panabaker
Mary Elizabeth Winstead
Kurt Russell
Music by Michael Giacchino
Cinematography Shelly Johnson
Edited by Peter Amundson
Distributed by Buena Vista Pictures
Release dates
July 29, 2005 (2005-07-29)[1]
Running time
100 minutes
Country United States
Language English
Budget $35 million[2]
Box office $86.4 million[2]

Sky High is a 2005 American superhero comedy film about an airborne school for teenage superheroes. It was directed by Mike Mitchell, and written by Paul Hernandez, Robert Schooley and Mark McCorkle. The starring cast includes Michael Angarano as Will, an incoming freshman at the school, Danielle Panabaker as his best friend and love interest, Kurt Russell and Kelly Preston as his parents, Mary Elizabeth Winstead as a popular senior, Steven Strait as Will's rival, and Lynda Carter as Principal Powers.


Will Stronghold (Michael Angarano) is beginning ninth grade at Sky High, a high school that teaches super powered children. Will's parents are The Commander (Kurt Russell) and Jetstream (Kelly Preston), the world's most famous superheroes. Will's best friend is Layla (Danielle Panabaker), who has the power to manipulate plant life.

Will is anxious about attending Sky High, located on a floating campus reached by flying school bus, because, unbeknownst to his parents, he has not developed any super powers. The first day he and the other grade nines are harassed by a trio of bullies: the super fast Speed (Will Harris), Lash (Jake Sandvig) who can extend his body, and cheerleader Penny (Khadijah Haqq and Malika Haqq) who can create duplicates of herself.

Because of his lack of powers, Will is slated to enter a curriculum for "Hero Support" and become a sidekick. His classmates include Ethan (Dee Jay Daniels) who can melt into a fluid, Zach (Nicholas Braun) who glows in the dark, Magenta (Kelly Vitz) who becomes a guinea pig, and Layla who joins the class in protest against the two track nature of the school's education. The class is taught by The Commander's former sidekick "All American Boy" (Dave Foley).

The Commander, unaware that his son has been relegated to Hero Support, shows Will his hidden trophy room. He is particularly proud of the mysterious weapon "The Pacifier" which he took from his science themed nemesis Royal Pain years ago. Unknown to either of them, Royal Pain, who had been presumed dead, watches the exchange from a hidden camera in one of the other trophies. As Will settles in to Sky High and makes friends with the other sidekicks he comes into conflict with fire wielding student Warren Peace (Steven Strait), whose supervillain father had been imprisoned by The Commander. During a fight between the two, Will demonstrates super strength, impressing Gwen Grayson (Mary Elizabeth Winstead), a beautiful and popular "technopath" who controls machines with her mind. Will begins spending more time with Gwen and her popular friends, ignoring the sidekicks and Layla, who reveals to Warren that she has loved Will for a long time.

On the day before the dance, Gwen tricks Will into throwing a party at his house, and she uses Speed to steal the Pacifier when she seduces Will into showing her the Secret Sanctum. After Gwen lies to Layla, who shows up to investigate the noise and believes the lie, Will breaks up with Gwen refusing to attend the dance even though his parents are going as honored guests. Later, he looks through his father's old yearbooks and sees a student who resembles Gwen. Believing that the student is Royal Pain and that Gwen is her daughter he rushes to the dance.

At the dance party, Gwen reveals that she is in fact Royal Pain. During her previous confrontation with the Commander, the Pacifier, which is meant to turn its target into an infant, had malfunctioned, turning her into a baby instead thus faking her suspected death. She has since waited sixteen years for revenge. With the help of Speed, Lash, and Penny, she takes over the school and uses the Pacifier to turn the faculty and students into infants.

When Will arrives at school, he apologizes to Layla and teams up with Warren and the sidekicks to try to save the day. The sidekicks demonstrate their heroism after Royal Pain sabotages the school's anti-gravity drive and their powers come in handy restarting it. Will, meanwhile, discovers that he also has his mother's powers of flight when he is thrown off the edge of the school grounds and must prevent the campus from falling. Gwen and her henchmen are defeated and arrested and the faculty and students are returned to their proper ages. Will and Layla kiss, and a voiceover at the end reveals that they become a couple, he and Warren became best friends, and Ron Wilson gained superhuman powers after falling into a vat of toxic waste, and became a superhero.


  • Michael Angarano as William Theodore "Will" Stronghold
    A freshman at Sky High. His 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.
  • Kurt Russell as Steve Stronghold / The Commander
    He is Will's father. As the Commander, he 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 before becoming a real estate agent.
  • Kelly Preston as Josie DeMarco-Stronghold / Jetstream
    She is Will's mother. She is a successful real estate agent. As Jetstream, she has the power of supersonic flight; she is also touted as being an expert in hand-to-hand combat.
  • Danielle Panabaker as Layla Williams
    She is Will's best friend since childhood. She is a pacifist, vegetarian, and feminist, 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. She becomes Will's girlfriend at the end of the film.
  • Mary Elizabeth Winstead as Gwendolyn "Gwen" Grayson / Royal Pain / Sue Tenny
    She is a senior at Sky High whom Will has a crush on. 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."[3] While in her Royal Pain suit, Patrick Warburton provides the vocal effects. When she attended Sky High the first time, no one understood her class of powers and she was slated as a sidekick.
  • Steven Strait as Warren Peace (a pun on "war and peace")
    He is the son of an unnamed superheroine and a supervillain known as Baron Battle, who is in jail with four life sentences. He is pyrokinetic. He starts out disliking Will because of the enmity between their fathers, but eventually becomes his best friend.
  • Dee Jay Daniels as Ethan Bank
    He is a sidekick who is friends with Will, he can melt into a fluid (which earned him the nickname "Popsicle").
  • Kelly Vitz as Magenta "Maj" Lewis
    She is Will's friend whose ability is to shapeshift into a guinea pig with purple highlights/streaks in her fur. At the end of the film, it seems that she starts to date Zach.
  • Nicholas Braun as Zachary "Zach" Braun / Zack Attack
    He is Will's spacey childhood friend, who has the latent ability to glow in the dark.
  • Malika Haqq and Khadijah Haqq as Penny Lent
    She is Gwen's best friend, who can duplicate herself and is naturally athletic.
  • Jake Sandvig and Will Harris as Lash and Speed
    They are the resident bullies at Sky High; Lash is skinny, and has elasticity, while Speed is overweight, yet can run at an extremely high speed.
  • Lynda Carter as Principal Powers
    She is the principal of Sky High. She appears to have the power to change into a luminous energy form resembling a comet and back at will.
  • Bruce Campbell as Tommy Boomowski / Coach Boomer / Sonic Boom
    He is the gym teacher at Sky High, also known as Sonic Boom due to his ability to release sonic waves from his vocal cords. He can be a pain. His power is known as sonic screaming. His real name is Tommy Boomowski as seen in the Commander's Sky High Yearbook.
  • Kevin Heffernan as Ron Wilson, Bus Driver
    He is 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. It is revealed at the end of the film that he fell into a vat of toxic waste, gaining superpowers of his own. He is a kind, good hearted fellow.
  • Cloris Leachman as Nurse Spex
    She is a kind and eccentric elderly lady that serves as Sky High's single known nurse, with the ability of X-ray vision.
  • Jim Rash as Mr. Grayson / Stitches
    He is Royal Pain's bumbling 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
    He is the Commander's old sidekick. He now works as Hero Support teacher at Sky High.
  • Kevin McDonald as Professor Medulla
    He is the Mad Science teacher, with a hyper-advanced (and over sized) brain, which grants him advanced intelligence, creativity, and a multitude of genius-level skills. Even when he is briefly transformed into a baby, he retains his speech and intelligence.
  • Kim Rhodes as Professor Jeannie Elast / Elastic Girl
    A girl who has the talent to twist her body into anything she wants.
  • Tom Kenny and Jill Talley as Mr. and Mrs. Chester Timmerman
    They made a small cameo in the movie.
  • Loren Berman as Larry
    He is a nerdy boy who shows Coach Boomer his power: he can turn into an overgrown superhuman made of rock.


Oviatt Library at CSU Northridge

Exterior shots of the Sky High school were filmed at the Oviatt Library[4] at California State University in Northridge.[5]

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.[6] After recruiting comedy writers Mark McCorkle and Bob Schooley (creators of Kim Possible) for polishing Hernandez's script, Disney hired several comedians such as Kevin McDonald, Dave Foley, and Kevin Heffernan for supporting roles.[6] 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.[6]

Producer Mike Mitchell said that Sky High functions on two premises: "the adults are all insane" and "the girls are smarter than the boys":[7] 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.[7]

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 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.[6]

Reception and box office figures[edit]

Sky High received generally favorable reviews. Based on review aggregrator Rotten Tomatoes, the film earned a "fresh" rating of 73% positive reviews (93 positive, 34 negative).[8] 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. Commercially it was a success: on an estimated budget of US$35 million, it earned just under $64 million in the US alone, and another $22 million internationally, bringing the total to just over $86 million.[2]


Sky High (Original Soundtrack)
Soundtrack album by Various Artists
Released July 26, 2005
Genre Soundtrack
Length 46:28
Label Hollywood Records
Singles from Sky High (Original Soundtrack)
  1. "I Melt with You"
    Released: 2005
Professional ratings
Review scores
Source Rating
Allmusic 2.5/5 stars[9]

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 the late 1970s).

Track listing[edit]

  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."

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 high definition Blu-ray for an original widescreen presentation on November 21, 2006.

See also[edit]


  1. ^ "Detail view of Movies Page". Retrieved 21 December 2015. 
  2. ^ a b c "Sky High (2005) - Box Office Mojo". Retrieved 21 December 2015. 
  3. ^ "Sky Kids Have Hero Issues," (22-JULY-05).
  4. ^ "Oviatt Library". Retrieved 4 October 2014. 
  5. ^ "University Licensing". California State University, Northridge. Retrieved 21 December 2015. 
  6. ^ a b c d "Kurt Russell and company go back to high school to learn what it means to be super in Sky High". Retrieved 4 October 2014. 
  7. ^ a b Sky High DVD extras
  8. ^ "Sky High (2005) - Rotten Tomatoes". Rotten Tomatoes. Retrieved 1 June 2015. 
  9. ^ Sky High (2005 film) at AllMusic

External links[edit]