The ’90s and pre-Spiderman early 2000s were an odd time for superheroes. Over the years, for the most part, Marvel and DC movies have been sort of event-like. It has been a big deal when one of these is released. This hasn’t always been the case though. Even with the success of 1978’s Superman and 1989’s Batman, studios were still not completely convinced that comic book films could tell captivating stories and be taken seriously. In the late 90’s we got bombs such as Meteor Man( which is great btw) and Steel staring Shaq. Yeah… that one’s bad. In the year 2000, Disney Channel tried its hand in the superhero genre with Up, Up, and Away. It’s about as good as you’d expect.
Up, Up and Away is about a 12-year-old boy named Scott and his family of superheroes. In this world, a superhero is supposed to get their powers by the age of 13. If not, there is a strong possibility that they will stay human forever. Scott tries to trick and convince his family that his powers are developing. His family seems to be the biggest superhero family around, so he feels that if he remains human, he will be a big disappointment. In the meantime, a “criminal mastermind” is trying to have world domination.
If this at all sounds familiar you may be thinking of Sky High. A 2005 film starring Kurt Russell that had a very similar premise. Sky High has much more creativity and is far more successful with its ideas. Of course, Sky High is a big-budget studio film, and Up, Up and Away is a TV. movie. The key word is creativity though. Creativity doesn’t always require a big budget as we have seen in the past with other DCOMs such as Zenon and Halloweentown.
What Doesn’t Work?
This movie’s main problem is that it doesn’t do enough with the interesting ideas it introduces. We are in a world where superheroes exist and we only stay with this one family. This would be fine if they did something but nothing happens for most of this movie, There is about one true scene of action and it’s fun and done well but that is about it.
There is a scene where the family is throwing a party and we see a bunch of superheroes standing around talking. They overall have cheap-looking costumes but they are innovative enough that I wanted to know more about them. But unfortunately, everyone is glossed over pretty quickly.
Superheroes have weaknesses and this family’s weakness is tin foil. Now that’s pretty silly and funny and reminds me of some old comics. It would be cool to have a villain who was just as silly and campy. Unfortunately, the villain is extremely boring. His master plan is to brainwash children to save the planet, recycle, and eventually steal money. It’s pretty dumb and not very threatening. You have a movie with tin foil as a weakness and a family who only eats broccoli,(yeah that’s a thing) and you have a boring villain who dresses in Hawaiian shirts.
What Does Work?
There are some positive things in this little film. Robert Townsend is good as the dad. He also directed this film. The highlight though is Sherman Hemsley as the grandfather. He is funny, gets all the good lines and I almost wish the movie was more about him.
The other thing that is important to mention is the representation here. Young audiences need to see people who look like them and during this time, there were not many movies or shows that had black superhero families.
Up, Up, and Away can be enjoyed by young audiences as well as families. There are some decent ideas and some good performances, but overall the story is lackluster and doesn’t have too much of a payoff. There is nothing wrong with being cheesy but we would like to be entertained as well. For kids, this is a harmless introduction to superheroes, but for anyone else, you have seen better.