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Spokane, Washington  Est. May 19, 1883
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Fast times at ‘Sky High’

Robert W. Butler Kansas City Star

“Revenge of the Nerds” meets “X-Men” in Disney’s “Sky High,” a sweet and funny tale of being “normal” in a school for superheroes.

As if standard-issue puberty wasn’t enough of a hassle, young Will Stronghold (Michael Angarano) has a special problem: His parents are Commander Stronghold (Kurt Russell), the world’s strongest man, and Josie Jetstream (Kelly Preston), who has the ability to fly.

But Will’s superpowers haven’t yet appeared. On his first day of class at Sky High, a sprawling campus floating several miles above the clouds, he is designated a Sidekick. This is analogous to being made water boy for the football team.

His fellow sufferers in “hero support” (the non-pejorative official term) are kids whose powers either haven’t developed or are useless. One kid can dissolve into a puddle. Another turns into a guinea pig. Will’s best friend Layla (Danielle Panabaker) can make plants grow faster. Not much crime-fighting potential in high-speed horticulture.

And then there are the school bullies. They’re 10 times worse when they can toss fireballs, pick pockets with long elastic arms or move so fast you can’t see them coming.

The screenplay by Paul Hernandez, Mark McCorkle and Robert Schooley playfully explores Will’s dilemma. Things are hard enough at school. But Dad Stronghold takes it for granted that his offspring will have awesome powers. Will can’t bring himself to reveal that he’s just a regular teenager.

Things start looking up when the cutest, most popular girl in school (Mary Elizabeth Winstead) falls for him. Or does she?

Mike Mitchell directs “Sky High” with a slew of special effects balanced by deft tongue-in-cheek humor. That extends to the casting: Bruce Campbell as the school’s athletic coach, ex-“Wonder Woman” Lynda Carter as the principal, Dave Foley as a former sidekick stuck with the thankless task of training future sidekicks, Kevin McDonald as Mr. Medulla, a science teacher with a swollen cranium right out of a ‘50s science fiction film.

With enough visual pizzazz to keep the kiddies occupied and some sly humor that grown-ups will appreciate, “Sky High” is the rare film that ought to keep everyone diverted.

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