Keying into and then subverting the wish fulfillment at the heart of most comic books, Sky High envisions a world where all superheroes learn to use their abilities at the titular training academy, which practices a sort of state-sponsored stratifying in the stratosphere. The floating school categorizes all incoming freshman as either heroes or sidekicks, essentially a superpowered shorthand for jocks and dweebs. High's protagonists are a group of awkward sidekicks who discover the "heroes" are actually a bunch of pompous douche bags planning to destroy the school with a device known as "The Pacifier." The film's message (tolerance and equality for all who combat the evils of Vin Diesel movies) is powerful; the supporting cast, including Dave Foley, Kevin McDonald, and Bruce Campbell, is up for anything; and the story, though predictable, is littered with knowing touches and smart moments, like the character whose duplication powers create a squad of cheerleaders who look, sound, and act exactly alike. Sky High is clunky and shamelessly transparent, but it's also charmingly earnest, and well designed for kids. My 12-year-old self would have liked this movie a lot. The 25-year-old me likes it a bit more than he cares to admit.
Get the Film & TV Newsletter
Stay up to date on the best new movies with our critics' latest reviews, interviews and trailers for the films coming to a theater near you each week.