Sky High (2005 film)

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Sky High
Sky High movie poster.jpg
Theatrical release poster
Directed byMike Mitchell
Produced byAndrew Gunn
Written byPaul Hernandez
Bob Schooley
Mark McCorkle
StarringKelly Preston
Michael Angarano
Danielle Panabaker
Mary Elizabeth Winstead
Kurt Russell
Music byMichael Giacchino
CinematographyShelly Johnson
Edited byPeter Amundson
Distributed byBuena Vista Pictures
Release date
July 29, 2005 (2005-07-29)[1]
Running time
100 minutes
CountryUnited States
Budget$20 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 film stars 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 begins ninth grade at Sky High, a high school that exclusively teaches teenagers with superpowers. Will's parents are The Commander and Jetstream, two of the world's most famous superheroes. Will's best friend, Layla, who happens to have a crush on him, has the power to manipulate plant life. Will is anxious about attending Sky High, located on a floating campus reached by a flying school bus, because, unbeknownst to his parents, he has not developed any super powers.

On the first day, he and the other ninth graders are harassed by a duo of bullies: Speed, a burly senior with super speed, and Lash, a skinny senior with extreme flexibility; because of his lack of powers, Will is slated to enter a curriculum for "Hero Support" and becomes a sidekick. His classmates include Ethan, who melts into a fluid; Zach, who glows in the dark; Magenta, who transforms into a guinea pig; and Layla, who joins the class in protest against the two-track nature of the school's education system; the class is taught by The Commander's former sidekick, "All American Boy."

Will learns that not everybody gets powers, and there are such cases of those who have two superpower parents but do not get any superpowers, such as the Bus driver Ron Wilson; the Commander is unaware that his son has been relegated to Hero Support, and 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, but unknown to either of them, Royal Pain, who had been presumed dead, watches them from a hidden camera in one of the other trophies.

As Will settles into Sky High and makes friends with the other sidekicks, he comes into conflict with pyrokinetic student Warren Peace, whose supervillain father had been imprisoned by The Commander. During a fight between the two, Will eventually manifests super strength, impressing Gwen Grayson, a beautiful and popular technopath who controls machines with her mind. Will is subsequently transferred to the "Hero" track.

Gwen visits the Stronghold's house and asks Will's parents to attend the Homecoming Dance to accept an award for Superhero of the Year, which they accept. Later on, while walking to her house, Gwen asks Will out to Homecoming and, to his delight, becomes his girlfriend. Will then begins spending more time with Gwen and her clique of friends, ignoring the sidekicks and Layla, who reveals to Warren that she has loved Will for a long time.

On the night before the dance, Gwen tricks Will into throwing a party at his house and uses Speed to steal the Pacifier, which goes unseen by Will when he takes her into 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 were invited as honored guests. Later, he looks through his father's old yearbook and sees a student who resembles Gwen holding the Pacifier, which he subsequently discovers has been stolen. 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 actually 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 seventeen 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.

After returning to school, Will apologizes to Layla and teams up with Warren, the sidekicks, and Ron Wilson 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. Meanwhile, Will discovers that he has Jetstream's powers of flight when he is thrown off the edge of the school grounds and prevents the campus from falling using his two abilities.

Gwen and her henchmen are defeated and arrested and the faculty and students are returned to their proper ages, his parents thank all of the sidekicks and admit they are heroes. Will and Layla kiss and a voiceover by Will 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, thus becoming a superhero.


  • 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.
  • 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.
  • Danielle Panabaker as Layla Williams
    Will's best friend and love interest, who is a pacifist vegetarian 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 / 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."[3] 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")
    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 often misunderstood due to being a son of felonious father.
  • Dee Jay Daniels as Ethan Bank
    A sidekick and one of Will's friends, he 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. At the Change and Pose class, he changed but got in his underwear which is a pair of white shorts with yellow spots.
  • Malika Haqq and Khadijah Haqq as Penny Lent
    Gwen's best friend, who duplicates herself and is naturally athletic.
  • Jake Sandvig and Will Harris as Lash and Speed
    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
    The principal of Sky High who has 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
    The gym teacher at Sky High, also known as Sonic Boom due to his ability to release sonic waves from his vocal cords, also known as sonic screaming. His real name is listed as Tommy Boomowski in the Commander's Sky High Yearbook.
  • Kevin Heffernan as Ron Wilson, Bus Driver
    The Sky High bus driver and pilot. 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, he is a kind, good-hearted fellow.
  • Cloris Leachman as Nurse Spex
    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
    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
    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.
  • Kim Rhodes as Professor Jeannie Elast / Elastic Girl
    A girl who has the talent to twist her body into anything she wants. Her character was never shown in the final cut of the film.
  • Tom Kenny and Jill Talley as Mr. and Mrs. Chester Timmerman
    They made a small cameo in the film.
  • Loren Berman as Larry
    A nerdy boy who can turn into a golem-like creature.
  • Dustin Ingram as Carbon Copy Kid
    A boy that can make himself look like anyone.


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 (they only wrote the beginning and ending sequences), 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]

Director 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 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.[6]

Reception and box office figures[edit]

Sky High received generally favorable reviews. Based on review aggregrator Rotten Tomatoes, the film earned a rating of 73% positive reviews based on 127 critic reviewers with an average rating of 6.5/10.[8] The site's critical consensus read, "This highly derivative superhero coming-of-age flick is moderately entertaining, family-friendly fluff."

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
ReleasedJuly 26, 2005
LabelHollywood Records
Singles from Sky High (Original Soundtrack)
  1. "I Melt with You"
    Released: 2005
Professional ratings
Review scores
AllMusic2.5/5 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). 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.[10]

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 the first Disney movie ever released on home video to never have a VHS release. It was also released on high definition Blu-ray for an original widescreen presentation on November 21, 2006.

Cancelled sequel and TV series[edit]

In November 2016, it was announced that Disney is developing a sequel to Sky High, and that the film is in early development stages.[11] In January 2019, Mike Mitchell revealed about earlier plans to make a franchise; but due to the film's box-office performance, nothing came to be. A sequel to the film would have been called Save U (as in Save University) and would have featured the characters graduating high school and attending college. There were also plans to make a TV series. Everyone, except for Kurt Russell and Kelly Preston, had signed on to return. [12]

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. Fandango Media. Retrieved 1 June 2015.
  9. ^ Sky High at AllMusic
  10. ^
  11. ^ Heath, Paul (October 17, 2016). "Exclusive: Story writer revealed for Dreamworks' 'Shrek 5' – 'Sky High 2' coming?". The Hollywood News.
  12. ^ Lussier, Germain (January 25, 2019). "The Unrealized Sky High Sequel Could Have Been Called Save University". io9. Retrieved January 26, 2019.

External links[edit]